Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, an all-male, New York-based dance company, took Buxton Opera House by storm on Saturday, writes Margaret Coupe.
The Trocks show deep affection for, and intimate knowledge of, the classical ballet repertoire, whilst putting their own comic spin, twirl and pirouette on it. These guys inject the ‘having a ball’ into ballet. Even before the curtain rose, when a voice announced that Nadia Doomiafeyva would replace the advertised ballerina and Jacques d’Aniels would stand in for Sergei Legupski, the audience knew good times were ahead.
The Trocks performed in order: Act 2 of Swan Lake; Patterns in Space, a send-up of the Merce Cunningham school of modern dance; the Pas de Six from Esmeralda; their legendary Dying Swan; and finally Paquita. Their curtain call was a high-kicking performance of New York, New York with the whole company sporting Statue of Liberty Alice bands.
The Trocks sure can dance. Grace, athleticism and technical expertise were at the heart of their performance but, if I had to find a phrase to sum up their vibrancy, I would say ‘sheer joyousness’. It is unusual for males to dance en pointe but these dancers did so with breathtaking skill.
Philip Martin-Nielson aka Nadia Doumiafeyva gave a dazzling, dizzying display of pirouetting in Paquita.
The humour ranged from the subtle arching of a well-shaped eyebrow to the slapstick humour of a ballerina taking a tumble. We saw the lead male flirting with a bespectacled dancer instead of focussing on his partner. The dying swan moulted copiously until the stage was afloat with feathers, like the aftermath of a pillow fight between two elephants. The accompaniment to a very serious modern dance routine consiste of sneezes, bubble-wrap popping, paper-bag bursting, choking…
The artistic director of the company, Tory Dobin, explained, in a Q and A session after the matinee, that an important quality he looks for when hiring a Trock is team spirit. Divas are only allowed on the stage. The dancers enjoy parodying diva behaviour. For example, at the end of Swan Lake Nina Enimenimynimova (Lon Zou) milked the applause for all its worth and was presented with a bouquet by an Opera House volunteer. The curtain closed and re-opened to show the whole corps de ballet having a punch-up over the posy.
The previous day (October 12). Raffaele Morra, ballet master for the company, ran a workshop for over-50s Opera House volunteers, aiming to transform mature Buxton ducklings into dying swans. It was a real privilege to attend. He told us how excited the Trocks were to be dancing on the Opera House stage where Anna Pavlova performed in 1925. He also explained that the dancers are choreographed in detail but that each dancer is encouraged to develop their own persona. The result is ballet with personality and attitude,
The Trocks got a very exuberant response from the audience so I do hope they will return to Buxton. In the meantime, I hope they will continue to be their fabulous selves and keep on trockin’.