I saw another great ballet company on DVD yesterday, but this one was something special. Les Ballets Trockadero is a New York-based ballet troupe with no female dancers. They do dance many of the classical ballets, however, they just put their male dancers in tutus.
Like most drag shows, Les Ballets Trockadero performs with a satiric tongue-in-cheek style. Unlike most drag shows, these are highly talented dancers, a fact you immediately recognize when these men go up on pointe.
In an odd way, this ballet company reminds me of the Harlem Globetrotters. The Globetrotters were primarily about getting laughs from the fans, but they also showed spectacular skills. Meadowlark Lemon routinely scored hook shots from halfcourt. The Trocks do some hilarious clowning around, but it takes real skills to do a lift like this:
Male ballerinas may not be as pretty to look at, but they can leap higher.
I bet you’ve never even seen a ballerina do a cartwheel.
Another fascinating thing about the Trocks: they can put their hijinks aside for a bit, and eventually you can forget that this is an all male company.
I’m not exactly sure how they pull this feat off. Dance is so much about costume and about gesture and the way you carry yourself. There are hundreds of little cues that keep telling us about gender in dance. Without those cues, the people in the upper balconies would have no end of trouble sorting out what’s what, or who’s who. Just the simple joining of hands, as shown above, suggests a group of females. Some of the biggest laughs come from the moments when the dancers step “out of character” and make more identifiably “male” gestures.
Anna Pavlova was famous for her dance where she skillfully danced the death throws of a swan. “The Dying Swan” is parodied brilliantly by a Trock in a tutu that continually leaks feathers.
The Trocks have two DVD’s available. Like most ballet DVD’s they are way overpriced, but you can rent them at Netflix. You’ll laugh a lot, but you’ll say “Wow” a lot too.