Last Thursday I went to see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at Celebrate Brooklyn. You can’t get much better than a FREE dance performance staged OUTDOORS in PROSPECT PARK, and Les Ballet Trockadero (“the Trocks”) proved absolutely perfect for the occasion! The famously comedic, all-male troupe of classical ballet dancers easily extinguished the nagging doubts that have erstwhile prevented me from buying tickets to their shows. They were downright hilarious in every way, and they displayed a marvelous attention to comedic nuance that sold me on their talent for once and for all.
From the moment the first dancer appeared on stage, gesturing wildly in mockery of the gestural choreography of centuries past, my friends and I were hysterical with laughter. Admittedly, the Trocks started with Swan Lake, which I suspect to be their funniest bit. Swan Lake is one of the most romantically dramatic and well-known of the ballets, making it easy to exaggerate and easy to parody from the starting point of a common understanding. Indeed, as I realized with the next few pieces – like Paquita and, in particular, Concerto Barocco – the humor of the Trocks hits home all the more if you are familiar with the real versions of the pieces they delightfully butcher. To be sure, there is plenty of enjoyment for everyone in the slapstick fails and the rigorous adherence to character that reveals these dancers to be talented comedic actors as well – not to mention the straight-up hilarity of seeing 10+ drag queens on stage pretending to look delicate in pointe shoes and tutus. However, it’s definitely even funnier if you know the original choreography and understand what it feels like to dance it.
In fact, the real brilliance of the Trocks is in their ability to mimic the true style of the pieces they parody while also frequently incorporating original choreography. Obviously the whole audience erupted when the dancers broke out into Gangnam Style in the middle of Concerto Barocco (one of the best moments!), but my dancer friends and I laughed extra hard throughout the piece at their flawless mockery of the awkward formations, repetitive geometrical movements and technical rigor of this Balanchine prototype. And when four drag-queen swans exhaustedly galumphed their way through the pas de chats in the Four Swans variation, we laughed in part at the image itself but also in part at the memory of exhausted attempts to pas de chat gracefully through that point in the variation as young dancers ourselves.
In short, the Trocks capture the essence of the struggles that dancers encounter every day, and they twist those balletic struggles hilariously on their heads to universal amusement. I can’t recommend this troupe more highly to dancers and non-dancers alike. I just wish we hadn’t been rained out of the finale piece at Celebrate Brooklyn! I hope to see what we missed – and more – at their next show in New York.