Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

There’s no way to really review Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, the drag ballet troupe that has been amusing audiences since 1974. As a dance company they have created their own genre, and the blend of comedy to real dancing is only important insofar as they manage to fill two hours with actual choreography, music and relatively accomplished performance. The important thing is the way they make people laugh.

The laughter began as a mock-Russian accented voice came over the loudspeaker, making announcements and jokes, banning flash photography on the grounds that "sudden bright flashes of light remind dancers of Russian Revolution…" or something to that effect.

The program opened with Act 2 of Swan Lake and while the arrival of the evil Von Rothbart and the lanky Prince Siegfried make a campy impression, it is not until the arrival of Odette, played by Robert Carter under the stage name "Olga Supphozova," that the delight begins. Carter exemplifies the success of the troupe. His/her ability to pull-off toe dancing, hit a nice-looking passe, extend as high as a moderately accomplished ballerina, and perform decent pirouettes and fouette turns is impressive, but it is his comedic timing, the way he bats his/her eyes, flashes a super-white smile at all the right moments and goes from pratfalls to poses that makes things sublime. In fact, no one else in the troupe has quite the technical ability combined with genius at physical comedy as Carter. He deserves to be Odette.

The other most hilarious moments of the evening were provided by Paul Ghislein as "Ida Nevasayneva" in the Dying Swan solo. A skinny, aging dancer with a wonderfully ravaged-looking face (especially with mascara, false eyelashes and turquoise eye shadow), Ghislein’s swan tutu is somehow designed to molt a continuous stream of falling feathers and, as he limps his way pathetically around the stage leaving a trail of whiteness, the dancing doesn’t matter at all.

The balance of dance to comedy is somewhat of a tightrope which the company has realized how to walk successfully in its many years of touring nationally and internationally. There are only so many jokes one can make, but, on the other hand, general audiences are only interested in limited amounts of classical ballet. The "Trocks" open with Swan Lake which is almost completely comedic, and close with Raymonda’s Wedding which is much more about the prowess of these men in their Size 13 toe shoes. They have won the audiences hearts by this time, so if the dancing goes on a bit long for most people’s taste, that’s okay.

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Santa Fe, NM
Mr. Simpson has a BA in Journalism from the University of Southern California and worked as an advertising writer in Los Angeles before moving to New York to pursue a different passion: dance. He danced professionally in New York and Boston before founding a community-based modern dance company, Small City Dance Project, in Newburyport, MA. His fiction has appeared in literary journals and anthologies. He was a teaching fellow at Smith College, where he received his MFA in choreography. While living in the Bay Area for 15 years, he wrote about dance for the San Francisco Chronicle and other periodicals. In 2005, he was a NEA Fellow at the Dance Critics Institute, American Dance Festival. For culturevulture.net, he reviews dance, theatre and film. He moved to Santa Fe in October, 2008. He writes for "Pasatiempo," the Arts magazine of the "Santa Fe New Mexican."