I finally went to see the men in tights. In tights and full make up, fake eyelashes, tutus and pointe shoes.
I first heard of Les Trocks back in Spain so it must be over 4 years now. Until now I hadn’t really had the chance to go and see their much talked about performances.
They’re a love it or hate it kind of company. You have to like ballet at least a little bit, you have to like classic music and you must love slapstick and drag. Fotunately I love all four of those, but how was I to take the boyfriend along? He certainly loves ballet and classical music but he will run a mile from drag queen shows, so that was going to be a bit tricky. So as any good girlfriend would do I bought the tickets and deceived him. I said that it was going to be a surprise (true) and hoped that he would like it based on his really enjoying ballet, and that he could see past the very hairy dudes in tutus in front of him. To enhance my chances I ensured that there was a minimum amount of alcohol consumption before the performance and off we went.
To be fair, give it a try he did. But it wasn’t very successful. So, I am leaving the details of our evening here while I move on to the performance itself.
After the mandatory cast change announcement and a brief introduction of the evening’s program (which they extended with 2 unannounced pieces) we started the Chopiniana (Les Sylphides) which included the most enthusiastic ballerinas and the most emo male lead I have ever seen. All part of the comedy act is the fact that the characters interact with each other much more than in a regular ballet, that is, in a spontaneous manner. Whereas in ballet every interaction is choreographed, here, the first shock was to see that while keeping the choreography and the perfect poses, the corps dancers laughed and winked at each other, they looked longingly at the moody male, they moved rhythmically with the music when they were supposed to be part of the background. And you know what? That was lovely to see. Used to the professionalism of the Royal Ballet dancers, you can’t help but wonder if they ever feel tempted to act like that (clap enthusiastically at a cast-mate that has just nailed her solo, comment with your fellow fairies how beautiful was that particular arabesque...)
After a break we were treated to the bonkers Points in Space by Merce Cunningham. Now, I have yet to see how different the original version is from the Trock interpretation but I cannot help but think that it may actually not be that far from the real deal. In any case judging from the audience reaction, and there were at least 3 people close to chocking of laughter, it was a winner too.
We then saw my favourite, the pas de deux from Le Corsaire. This ultra famous, mega high energy excerpt is not only one of the most performed by companies worldwide, it is also very well known by the public due to Nureyev’s electrifying performances. My experience when seeing this ballet performed by the Bolshoi this summer in London was not a very good one. I thought it quite flat, quite boring in many areas and was sad to see the male lead have such a small part in it outside of this famour pas de deux. Seeing this best bit by Les Trocks was quite interesting since only the fun choreography remained. Interestingly they did not pull many of the previously seen gimmicks (unstable ballerinas falling over) and we were treated to most of the choreography uninterrupted. And yes! This included over 20 fouettes (en pointe of course) for her and all the tours a la seconde for him. While I was definitely expecting to see a technically good company however I was not prepared to be so impressed with what I saw.
We next saw the dying swan solo from Swan Lake which was nice, and well performed but didn’t really say as much to me. It’s the one where I could really see how they could have played it comically (shadow shapes with hands, playing more with the space...). As nice as the swan was, it left me a bit indifferent.
Lastly we saw La Vivandiere where the cast returned to a winning combination of technical and artistic ability with comedic timing. I may be silly and an ever sillier sense of humour but to see a tiny male dancer paired with the tallest ballerina who’s beaming with excitement really gets me in a giggly mood. They were both phenomenal and the potential dangers of such partnership only made it even more delightful.
All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it and marvelled at the exquisite pointe work of the cast, these are men who really know how to work those pointy shoes! I would have liked them however, to have a wider variety of gags which played more with the unique personalities of the dancers, with the stage space, with shadows or props, etc.
And although I am happy to have seen them, next time I go I will make sure to bring another drag loving companion.
Go see them and laugh and love it!
For more ballet info you can check The ballet bag
For more ballet info you can check The ballet bag