If the only way you know to survive a ballet is to fall asleep, you might want to check out Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. This ballet is no snoozefest. In fact, The Trocks, as the dancers affectionately call themselves, actually trick you into absorbing culture by way of hilarious parody.
Allow us to further elaborate: The ballet company is comprised entirely of men. In drag. En pointe.
Now, this performance doesn't play out as a catastrophic scene of 16 men stumbling about the stage; if the dancers do falter, it’s all part of the comical choreography. The Trockadero troupe takes the art of ballet quite seriously — the company’s well-rehearsed repertory of programs includes classics like Swan Lake, Nutcracker and Stars and Stripes, as well as modern pieces like A Dance after the Paintings of Degas.
While all works are indeed performed with the best technical skill achievable by muscular men en point, they're soaked in satire that pokes fun at the stereotypical grandiosity of the affair.
All Trockadero ballerinas have Russian female alter-egos — along the lines of Margeaux Mundeyn and Ida Nevasayneva — and, each night, ensconce themselves in wigs, outrageous tutus and layers upon layers of makeup and false eyelashes.
But despite their best drag efforts, The Trocks know the day will never come when one of their own will be mistaken for a female ballerina. “Women in ballet have to pull off what we're not even going for, a kind of finesse," artistic director Tory Dobrin recently told the Chicago Tribune. "In terms of dancing en pointe, in toe shoes, we're going for the brute strength, the force, the male attack."
"There are still those who want to laugh and tease," dancer Paul Ghiselin continued. "But once they see how committed we are, it cracks open a door to perceive the world in a different way. And just to enjoy."
Tickets are available for $16-$60 for the 7:30 p.m. Tuesday night performance at The Long Center.