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Hairy Chests, Ruby Red Lips & Men in Tutus | Program A of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo’s 40th Anniversary Season at the Joyce Theater, Dec. 16 – Jan. 4, 2014….

December 21, 2014
Lariska Dumbchenko (Raffaele Morra) as the Naiad & Mikhail Mypansarov (Ihaia Miller) as the Fisherman in “La Naïade et Le Pêcheur.” ©Yi-Chun Wu-001

Lariska Dumbchenko (Raffaele Morra) as the Naiad & Mikhail Mypansarov (Ihaia Miller) as the Fisherman in “La Naïade et Le Pêcheur.” ©Yi-Chun Wu-001

Now every year I am so excited to witness the brilliance of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, a troupe of classical trained male dancers who fearlessly bourrée across the stage while wearing tutus and point shoes. The Trocks (as they are commonly known) are an all-male ballet troupe that parodies the great ballet classics en travesty and en pointe.

These gentlemen perform under such enticing names as Maya Thickenthighya (Ihaia Miller), Nina Immobilashvili (Alberto Pretto) and Tatiana Youbetyabootskaya (László Major). Each dancer, besides their challenging roles as Russian ballerina, also perform male roles, such as László Major is also Araf Legupski, Giovanni Goffredo performs the dual roles of Varvara Bratchikova and Sergey Legupski, Duane Gosa is also Helen Highwaters and Vladimir Legupski

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in “Swan Lake.” ©Sascha Vaughn.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in “Swan Lake.” ©Sascha Vaughn.

It is noted in the program that all the Legupski listed, there are five of them, are brothers, but not really, though their first names are in fact Araf, Sergey and Vladimir. Unfortunately they do not the difference between a pirouette and a jeté, but they moved nicely and fit into the costumes.

Now, aside from the names and the clever backstories found in the program,  such as Ida Nevasayneva (Paul Ghiselin), who has just returned from the Varna International Ballet Competition where the judges, after having to sit through her performance, awarded her the plastic medal for Bad Taste. But, sadly, that was about the most humorous thing I found for the evenings performance.

Les Ballets Trockadero presented four works, a supposedly tongue-in-cheek rendition of Petipa’s classic Le Lac Des Cygnes (Swan Lake, Act II), Go for Borocco, an hommage to George Balanchine, the Le Corsaire Pas de Deux and Variations, plus a short ballet attributed to Jules Perrot and Marius Petipa with music by Cesare Pugni, La Naïade Et Le Pêcheur (The Niaid and the Fisherman).

The last time I saw Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo the company performed The Black Swan Pas De Deux as part of the 10th Anniversary of the Fall for Dance Festival in 2013. It was brilliant, I laughed so hard I cried…but it was because of the understated humor. A somewhat diminutive Prince Siegfried, danced by Innokenti Smoktunmuchsky (Carlos Hopuy), was immediately entranced by a taller and stronger looking Odile performed by Yakatarina Verbosovich (Chase Johnson). It was just that Ms. Verbosovich was not so taken with Prince Siegfried.  The evil Von Rothbart as performed by Vytacheslav Legupski (Paolo Cervellera)  and ran interference anytime the bewildered Odette, danced by the noted and much respected ballerina Sonia Leftova (Boysie Dikobe), attempted to enter the stage, complete with a white tutu and her arms a ripple. Von Rothbart refused to have his Odile (Ms.Verbosovich ) upstage by Odette and simple refused let her on to the stage, steering her back to the wings, sometimes gently, most times not. I remember the performance like it was yesterday…I say again, it was sheer brilliance.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in Marius Petipa’s Black Swan Pas De Deux

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in Marius Petipa’s Black Swan Pas De Deux

But what I saw in Program A of the Les Ballets Trockadero’s biennial three-week NYC engagement at the Joyce Theater, I sadly cannot say the same. There was too much hamming it up, to many obvious trips and falls that could have been very funny had they been cleverly staged.

The Le Corsaire Pas de Deux and Variations was somewhat better. The stand out in the performance was László Major who performed the slave variation with force and a surprising aerial or two. (…Mr. Major also should be granted the  award for the most hunkiest of the evening….just saying…)

Carlos Hopuy performing as Medora always impresses me with his abilities, but I must say after seeing his performance in this pas de deux, he raised the bar even higher. Mr. Hopuy was whipping out double fouettés turns, en pointe, better than a few real ballerinas I have known. It was a worthy performance for such an honored pas de deux but it seemed the focus was the dancing that was filled with difficult tricks as opposed to being a true parody.

For Le Lac Des Cygnes (Swan Lake, Act II), the dancers seemed to be camping it up more than needed. Everyone, especially Prince Siegfried (Giovanni Goffredo) had on way to much make-up. I was confused as to who was en travesty, Prince Siegfried or Odette (Robert Carter). The Prince sported deep blue eye shadow, a lot of it, cheek contouring and ruby red lips. I found it distracting.

Yakaterina Verbosovich (Chase Johnsey) & Nina Immobilianshvili (Alberto Pretto) in “La Naïade et Le Pêcheur.” ©Yi-Chun Wu-001

Yakaterina Verbosovich (Chase Johnsey) & Nina Immobilianshvili (Alberto Pretto) in “La Naïade et Le Pêcheur.” ©Yi-Chun Wu-001

La Naïade Et Le Pêcheur needs to be completely reworked. It never went anywhere, during the performance I was bored and kept hoping it would end soon. Here also, the male characters in the piece, Matteo (Ihaia Miller) and the friends of Matteo (Jack Furlong, Jr. and Christopher Ouellette) had on to much make-up I that could not take the characters seriously at all. Jack Furlong and Christopher Ouellette looked as if they had just changed costumes and threw on a short haired wig. Both sported long (and I mean long) lashes and again bright ruby red lipstick.

Mr. Furlong looked more like his character, Guzella Verbitskaya, was in actuality a woman pretending to be a man as opposed to the opposite. I understand that costume changes between performances can get very tight in regards to timing…but still, the dancers could have taken off the eyelashes and wiped off the lipstick to at least some differentiation between male and female characters.

To be fair, this was the opening night for Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Always opening nights are tricky, the dancers, no matter how rehearsed or how much they have already performed the repertory, opening nights everything seems new and nerves are a reality that has bested the most gifted of performers…

 

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