Les ballets Trocks montrer ce soir à l'hippodrome de Birmingham était fantastique! Une super soirée au théâtre ... Oh who am I kidding? My knowledge of the French language is as poor as my understanding of the ballet, but I'm getting there... What I can do however is appreciate the art form, and I find it most enjoyable - particularly this, an all-male company, on pointé presenting Les Sylphides, Black Swan Pas de Deux, La Vivandiere Pas de Six, Dying Swan and Walpurgis Night. The programme varies by venue with Swan Lake Act II and Le Grand Pas de Quarte also part of some performances.
Founded in 1974 by a group of ballet enthusiasts for the purpose of presenting a playful, entertaining view of traditional, classical ballet in parody form and en travesti (portrayal of the opposite sex), the 'Trocks' as they are affectionately called have quickly become internationally known.
A pre-show announcement unlike any other announces last minute cast changes with performers named Sonia Leftova, Marina Plezegetovstageskaya and Stanislas Kokitch setting the tone for the evening ahead.
The curtain rises on Les Sylphides which I now understand to be the first abstract classical ballet, a ballet blanc which is without narrative structure or defined characters - which is good, because I couldn't find a narrative. What was clear however was the jealously between the white clad Sylphs which resulted in a diva'ish standoff between dancers. Each ballerina upstaged the other in some exaggerated or ludicrous way yet all whilst executing the most controlled and perfected technique.
Black Swan Pas de Deux
Next is the Pas de Deux from the third act of Swan Lake. More so than the first excerpt, this is where the skill of these men is recognised. Odile danced by Chase Johnsey as Yakatarina Verbosovich is mesmerising. At times you cease to see the male and accept that what you are watching is a world class ballet, which of course you are... until perhaps the prima waves and winks at you.
The Dying Swan
Paul Ghiselin joined Trockadero in May 1995 and with nearly two decades to perfect his Trock he steals the show portraying Ida Nevasayneva as the Dying Swan. With feathers aplenty falling ceaselessly from his tutu, this swan's final dance is something of a spectacle.
After a second interval the final scene is Walpurgis Night in which we see a celebration, Nymphs and Maidens coming together with Fauns. It makes for a beautiful finale. There is an encore which involves removal of the pointé shoes and finds another use for them.
The Birmingham Hippodrome's press trip to France allowed them to share the backstage routine of a Trock as he transforms:
Transforming into a Trock (Birmingham Hippodrome)
After only two nights at the Birmingham Hippodrome, the Trocks continue a UK tour until May before embarking on a journey across America. Whilst in Birmingham on the 1st February the Trocks' open rehearsal was streamed live and if you missed it you can watch the footage here.