Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Sylvia and Danny Kaye Playhouse, December 12-17, 1995.
Sporting yards of sequined satin (with strategically ruffled panties under capacious tutus), size EEE toe shoes, really bad wigs, and eyelashes out to here, pseudonymous Russian ballerinas and ballerinos storm the stage and for two hours hold us hostage with fractured versions of ballet classics.
After several seasons away and a change of artistic direction, the Trocks are back in New York City, more flamboyant than ever. Punny names and fanciful biographies give them whimsical personas: Ida Nevasayneva (Paul Ghiselin) is too myopic to locate the exit wings; ebony beauty Karina Grudj (Rashonn James) is fiercely coy; perky blond Elena Kumonova (Mark Rudzitis) dances with real technical crispness; and, honey, don't mess with Natalia Schmaltzova (William Grinton). Unlike the St. Petersburg Male Ballet, seen earlier this season, which is tecknically polished and takes dancing in drag seriously, the Trocks play strictly for comedy, and original choreography is occasionally simplified to accommodate the dancers' abilities. In fact, technical lapses are part of the fun, although shaky pirouettes do merit some attention.
Their signature Swan Lake is a comic riot. Vanya Verikosa (Brian Norris), "the hardest-working living ballerina," is Odette, protecting her six-swan flock from Medulli Lobotomov (Damien Thibodeaux) and Igor Slowpokin (Manolo Molina), as Prince Siegfried and his pal Benno, who are intent on turning them into pillow stuffing. Velour Pilleaux (Ghiselin) as Von Rothbart flounces his spangled crimson cape menacingly. Most of Petipa's original steps have devolved into dramatic posing and lots of arm-flapping, though the pantomime is crystal-clear: "No fooling around without a wedding ring," Odette gestures to love-struck Siegfried. And she's such a lively handful that Benno has to help the prince with some four-handed lifting.
Peter Anastos's Go for Barocco is a howlingly snide Balanchine takeoff with six black-leotarded "sylphs" jutting hips, flexing feet, and braiding arms into daisy chains that get snarled. By the time we reach Goite Parisienne, the final ballet, everyone's so pooped the can-can can't quite. Muscular opera etoile Bertho Vinayshinsky (Thibodeaux) and glove seller Ludmila Beaulemova (Sam Lipton) both outweigh their male partners, William Vanilla (Carlos Fittante) and Pilleaux again, so they hoist the men. Eugenia Repelskii (Peter Richards) is a charmingly discombobulated Proprietress, and grinning Flower Girl Vanya's still bouncing about on her pointes like a cheerleader.
The travesty spectacle is greatly entertaining, but what gives it dimension is the appearance in the Grand Pas Classique of a genuine star: Tationa Youbetyabootskaya (Bart de Block), who needs no mugging to hold attention. Sporting a chic red French twist coiffure, the graceful, little dancer--who also dances with Berlin Opera Ballet--blends formidable technique with serene confidence. A first-rate dancer, s/he caps a final variation with double fouette turns that bring the audience to its feet, demanding an encore. De Block's dancing, a refreshing respite from the parody, puts the Trocks' campiness into perspective by reminding us how astonising it is to dance on the tips of your toes.
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|Date:||Mar 1, 1996|
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