The all-male ballet comedy troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo delightfully pokes fun at ballet’s traditions and stories. The Trocks are at the University of Washington’s Meany Center through May 20.
“All of our ballerinas,” intoned a pre-curtain voice from on high, gloriously accented with Russian curlicues, “are in very, very good moods tonight.”
Well, thank the gods of ballet for that. For more than 40 years, the all-male ballet comedy troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo has been creating good moods. My own giggles, on Thursday’s opener of a quick three-night stand at Meany Hall, began with that voice-over and continued through the final curtain call, set to “Hava Nagila” because, well, why not? (I rather miss their old “Riverdance” curtain call. But to each her own.)
Each dancer in the Trocks plays two personas, male and female; each with an elaborate stage name (Doris Vidanya, Boris Nowitsky, Tatiana Youbetyoubootskaya) and a brief biography in the program (Roland Deaulin, we’re told, “invented the concept of the ‘bad hair year’ or ‘annus hairibilis’ ”). All of the “ballerinas” dance en pointe — but the genius touch of the Trocks is that while the ballet’s stories and customs are, lovingly, played for laughs, the technique isn’t.
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
Repeats 8 p.m. Saturday, Meany Center, University of Washington; $55-$60 (206-543-4880 or meanycenter.org).
In the Trocks’ signature pint-size “Swan Lake,” which opens the program, Alla Snizova (real name Carlos Hopuy, formerly of the National Ballet of Cuba) squealed in excitement during an unexpectedly high lift, and beamed at the audience like a thrilled understudy who couldn’t quite believe her luck. S/he also showed off a beautifully precise arabesque and delicate point work, partnered ably by Vladimir Legupski (Duane Gosa), who expressed note-perfect befuddlement at the ballet’s traditional mime. And though I’ve seen this “Swan Lake” many times, the variation for four hand-holding swans — three of whom are intently addressing the task at hand, one of whom has enough ham for several sandwiches — remains a comic masterpiece.
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Despite some unexpected acrobatics from Araf Legupski (Laszlo Major), the “Le Corsaire” pas de deux also showed some remarkable (and very difficult) dancing, with Nina Enimenimynimova (Long Zou) effortlessly tossing off a fouetté sequence nearly as long as her name. The story ballets “Esmerelda” and “Don Quixote,” though both a tad overlong, were filled with delicious moments: a corps dancer chomping on an apple (and, later, a banana) while bored during the pas de deux; another wielding, in which is likely a ballet-stage first, a Swiffer.
No Trocks evening is complete without the “Dying Swan” solo, performed Friday night by the long-limbed Helen Highwaters (Gosa) in a tutu that bleeds feathers all over the stage. This swan does not go gentle into that good night; no, this death involves full-body convulsions.
And in an evening of masterful curtain calls (note the emotional collapse by Chase Johnsey’s Yakatarina Verbosvich, at the end of a beautifully danced “Don Q” pas de deux), the swan’s final bow stood out as a perfect blend of elaborate humility and applaud-me-damn-it determination. Bouquets to all — better that way; if you give these divas just one they’ll fight over it — and may this glorious troupe return to lighten our moods again very soon.