Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
Les Sylphides, “Pas de Trois des Odalisques,” “Spring Waters,” “Don Quixote,” “The Dying Swan,” “Stars & Stripes Forever”
August 15, 2003, Damrosch Park, Lincoln Center, New York
by Holly Messitt
Seeing Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo would be a treat on any given night. Friday night, however, it was even more so. Damrosch Park at Lincoln Center was overflowing with unlucky New Yorkers who had not or could not escape the city during the country’s largest blackout in history. In fact, in order to see the show, many of the viewers had no doubt braved the packed city buses that were New Yorkers’ only hope of transportation for the two days following the blackout in order to see the show. The Trocks rewarded our trip, entertaining outside in the high humidity with a program filled with their standard pieces and their stock jokes and gags.
The longest piece, Les Sylphides came first and was the one that they packed with the most humor. There were the jumps that land too hard, gum chewing in the corps, movements that are too angular or too quick to be graceful, prima ballerinas who trip over corps members and who lose their placing on stage. Corps member fussed with their skirts and dancing ballerinas came out of a leap or a turn to find tulle in their face. Pavel Tord (Bernd Burgmaier) was the only danseur on stage. Dressed in a blonde wig and pale make up, he played his part as an emotionless, aloof, rather dumb leading man. Even though the corps members followed him lovingly with their eyes, his dim-witted nature frustrated his partners. He wandered away from the position he was supposed to be in; he did not anticipate his ballerinas’ moves and once got confused about which ballerina he was supposed to partner. One of his final moves was to rip his partner’s dress at the end of a final lift.
Judging from the laughter throughout the crowd, the audience loved Les Sylphides. Yet, I find that I like the Trocks best when they cut down the slapstick humor and play it straight…so to speak. Their “Pas de Trois des Odalisques” used three “female” stars, Lariska Dumbchenko (Raffaele Morra), Colette Adae (Jason Hadley), and Olga Supphozova (Robert Carter) to parody the queeny qualities that can be found in some ballerinas. These three dancers pushed each other out of the spotlight – literally by shoving and directing others off the stage and figuratively by trying to out-dance each other. Yet in this execution of difficult work done well, I think that the Trocks make some of their boldest statements.
It’s fun to watch them satirize the stereotypes of the ballet world. However, when these men begin executing skillful fouetté turns and arabesques, then I think they begin to tackle the deep stereotypes about masculinity and femininity that we face on a daily basis. When, for example, Sylphia Belchick (Carolos Garcia) in “Spring Waters” shows off her quick lightness and deep back arches, Fifi Barkova (Manolo Molina) displays a sultry femininity in “Don Quixote,” and Olga Supphozova dances with fluidity in “Stars & Stripes Forever,” the Trocks break our stereotypes of acceptable masculine behavior, a stereotype that I think is still more explosive than the reverse – when women show their masculine side.
These men are capable of holding down the leading lady’s role. They show us just how graceful men can be. Let’s face it, some men were born to be the prima ballerina.