On Tuesday, the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater curtain will rise on an enchantingly odd performance. Moments of grace and peculiar beauty will blend with what should be hilarious parody as the all-male dance troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo takes the stage in a froth of sweat-drenched tulle and oversized pointe shoe.
A group of New York City ballet enthusiasts who dreamed of an outlet to perform amusing versions of traditional ballets in parody form—and in drag—formed the company in 1974. They debuted in the makeshift off-off-Broadway stages of Manhattan’s meatpacking district, where all 100 folding-chair seats sold out and the audience packed the isles and sides of the theater.
As the rave reviews poured in, the Trocks began to tour the U.S., Europe and Asia, finding niche audiences for their uncanny, gender-bending performances. To date they’ve performed in more than 500 cities around the world, peppering dance festivals and university campuses with peeks of chest hair and clumsy ballet tumbles while holding long seasons on major theater stages.
The faux prima ballerinas, who come from all over, defy the stereotypical image of the slender professional dancer who’s neither too tall or too short, too ethnic or too heavy. In this troupe the dancers, once suitably transformed into their feminine alter egos, exaggerate their height and bulky, broad-shouldered frames for comic effect. Ruffled panties precariously conceal packages beneath frivolous tutus. When the program calls for a male role, the dancers shed their ladylike shells to reveal quirky new masculine personas.
Joshua Grant, a Trockadero dancer since 2006, metamorphoses into the freakishly lovely raven-haired Katerina Bychkova as well as the statuesque and dangerously handsome Ashley Romanoff-Titwillow. Chase Johnsony, a four-year veteran of the troupe, takes the stage as both Yakatarina Verbosoviche, a Russian born and fashion obsessed ballerina with delicate features, and Roland Daulin, a French dance master who sells wigs on a television shopping channel on the side.
Regardless of who or what the Trockadero dancers appear as onstage, the fact is that they are all professionally trained, incredibly talented ballet artists. Their repertoire includes scenes from classical ballets like Don Quixote, The Nutcracker and Swan Lake as well as modern works, solos de pas deux and solos de pas treis (works of two and three.) The humor comes from their expertly timed exaggeration of the foibles and fumbles of serious dance, with occasional breathtaking displays of extremely technical dexterity.
With one pointed toe in genuine ballet and the other in loving parody, the Trockadero performance promises to be a compelling and comical ballet romp. MTW