The all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo’s comedy doesn’t stop with the gimmick of ballet-in-drag. Nor does it rely solely on the novelty of heavy things trying to be light, or the inherent humor of classical ballet’s unnatural manners. Thorough research from artistic director Tory Dobrin, rehearsal directors, and dancers leap inside the form’s history, from Imperial Russia to the Soviet Union and beyond, illuminating jewels of cultural details.
“We’ve gone deep into the libraries of Russian classical ballet,” says dancer and ballet master Paul Ghiselin (alternately the ballerina Ida Nevasayneva and danseur Velour Pilleaux). “We’ve brought things on stage that no companies are dancing anymore.”
The Trocks simultaneously mock and indulge in over-the-top stage presence while staying faithful to the thin storylines characteristic of most classical ballets. They play with backstage dramas, including an historic four-way rivalry among the prima ballerinas of the original “Pas de Quatre” (one of the works being presented in Miami). An audience member need not be well-versed in the ballet canon—or even familiar with it—to get the jokes, though.
In order to pull off the humor, the professional dancers comprising the Trocks must maintain excellent ballet technique as well as expert comic timing. With coaching help from ballet mistresses including prima ballerina Iliana Lopez, the company’s pointe work stays in tip-top shape. Lopez joined the team in 2005 while she was still working with Miami City Ballet, then as a ballet mistress. Ghiselin describes the Trocks’ pairing with Lopez as “a perfect relationship right from the beginning.”
The company formed in 1974 and was soon after reviewed in the New Yorker by the esteemed critic Arlene Croce, who praised its artistic integrity and warned, “It’s so damned all-seeing that I don’t think anything in ballet can be safe from it for long.” Her prophecy has been fulfilled: the Trocks now take on the work of 20th-century ballet giants George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins as well as modern dance icons Isadora Duncan, Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, and Pina Bausch. Catch the their take on Cunningham’s “Patterns in Space” alongside four tutu classics during their one-night Miami engagement.
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo performs Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. at The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater (1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach). Tickets cost $23-$73. Call 800-745-3000 or visit livenation.com.
First published in Miami New Times