Saturday, November 03, 2018

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo – skilful and hilarious dancing to close this year’s #BelFest2018

I fear that my first ever evening at the ballet may not have been typical of performances featuring the 15th century artform. Even before the rich red curtain rises to reveal the Grand Opera House stage, the programme notes and pre-show announcement at Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo make clear that this is no ordinary ballet with costumes by Coco Channelski and a reference to the Northern Ireland’s arabesque centre of Ballet-mena

The all-male company with its ridiculous name have been touring for four decades, sending up the aspects of their beloved artform that make it feel high brown and elitist. The dancers perform familiar and often hummable sections of works from the ballet repertoire, demonstrating all the style and grace of the female dancers who normally dominate performances, dancing en pointe (up on their tippy toes), leaping in the air and exercising tremendous control over their arms and hand movements.

The body types, sizes, heights and ages vary enormously from slight-framed dancers to guys who’d look at home in the front row of a rugby scrum. The absurdity of the tutu-wearing company adds levity to the occasion before they start to move.

The classical stories take on new meaning as petty rivalries among the dancers emerge and before long, howls of laughter ripple around the stalls and circle as the audience notice the injections of comedy, wobbles and unusual ballet moves.

The tone and level of proficiency is set with Chopin’s Les Sylphides before the Trocks take the piss out of deconstructed modern ballet and experimental percussive accompaniment with Patterns in Space and a heavy dollop of clowning around. It’s the second night in a row I’ve reviewed a show featuring live recording playing!

After Verdi’s five handed La Trovatiara Pas de Cinq with its mischievous swordplay, the audience melt into their seats with a beautifully staged central dance from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake with a spectacular costume. Finally the full company are back in stage for five variations of Minkus’ Paquita ending with the dizzying pirouetting of Nina Enimenimynimova (played by Long Zou) and a locally-relevant encore certain to warm the hearts of any audience on this island.

Last night the Grand Opera House was packed with all ages, all genders, celebrating the skill of dancing and entertainment of The Trocks. They close Belfast International Arts Festival tonight (Saturday 3 November) with the last performance of their UK and Irish tour. It’s beautiful ballet, but like nothing you’ve seen before!

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