Les Ballets Trockaderous de Monte Carlo -- the very name is reminiscent of the various Ballets Russes companies of the '30s and '40s. Imagine one of those troupes 40 years later, with scenery and costumes (not to memtion repertory and dancers) gone to seed, and you have an idea of part of the satire of the Trocks, who opened their weekend season at the National Theatre last night to a demonstrably appreciative audience. The other, and more obvious, part of the fun is the way the dancers of this all-male company have solved the problem that has plagued men in ballet for years -- how to assume starring roles in ballets made essentially for women.
Instead of beefing up the men's parts, they take the more direct approach of dancing the ballerina roles themselves. Sometimes they portray women dancing as men en travestie , and sometimes they actually play men dancing as men, but the basic humor of the Trocks remains the sight of men in tutus and toe shoes. As such, they are hilarious, and their humor appeals to those who have never seen a "real" ballet, as well as to balletomanes.
They used to be funny enough just hobbling around the stage, but their technique has improved immensely. now, if they fall off point or dance out of sync, it is intentional, and they can expend their energies and their talents on the finer points of their art.
The Trocks play up the tacky and tawdry, pounce with glee on plot inconsistencies and positively revel in creating ballerina monsters (albeit with hearts of gold) whose personalities and on-stage antics would have driven any sane impresario out of the business long ago. Often they dance ballets with the original choreography almost intact, their humor coming from an overemphasized transitional step, arm positions that are slightly askew, or guying ballerina mannerisms. (There is a sour ballerina, a sexy one, and one who loves being on stage, even though she dances in a crouch and turns at a 45-degree angle.)
Last night's program was typical Trockadero fare. They presented a "Les Sylphides" in which the corps de ballet, seemingly poised on the brink of mutiny, was more a coven of gossips than a group of woodland nymphs; a suitably animalistic "Le Corsaire" pas de deux danced by Ida Neversayneva and Yuri Smirnov (the "Cream of the Tartars," according to the program); a Balanchine spoof called "Go for Barocco" in which the dancers, clad in black bathing costumes, make human chains, often getting stuck, and a rousing rendition of "Raymonda's Wedding" in which the bridesmaids, as befitted their role, carried bouquets.
The dancers seemed to love every minute of it. Perhaps the best thing about the Trocks is that they have as much fun as their audiences.