writers on dancing


Loving and Laughing at Ballet

“Les Sylphides”, “Odalesque pas de trois”, “Tarantella”, “Go for Barocco”, “The Dying Swan”, “The Humpback Horse”
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
The Joyce Theater
New York, NY
December 22, 2004

by Mary Cargill
copyright © 2005 by Mary Cargill

Thirty years ago, when the ballet boom was at its height, a group of men loved ballet so much, they could laugh at it. They, and audiences are still laughing, but there have inevitably been some changes to Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, especially in technique. These men are dancers now, many with professional experience, and fouettés abound. Indeed, Svetlana Lofatkina (Fernando Medina Gallego) and Vladimir Legupski (Carlos Garcia) danced a very credible version of Balanchine’s “Tarantella”.

But satire is their calling card, and they performed two of their most pointed productions, “Les Sylphides” and “Go For Barocco. “Les Sylphides”, though the bored, gum-chewing sweetie has disappeared, remains wonderful evocation of the more fraught moments in Romantic ballet, from the giddy galumphing sylphs to the vacuous, self-absorbed and very weedy poet, more intent on finding fifth position than partnering his insistent ballerina.

Fokine, or a reasonable facsimile, turned up again in Ida Nevasayneva’s “Dying Swan”, that aging ballerina’s best friend. She boureéd valiantly to the end, even with a face that could sink a thousand ships, rising valiantly one last time to bask in the applause.

“Go For Barocco”, choreographed by Peter Anastos, remains one of the most pointed delineations of Balanchine’s style. Years ago, the New York Time’s critic John Martin, then no fan of Balanchine, felt the dancers in an early Balanchine ballet were just playing London Bridge like mad—he should have seen the Trocks. They do play like mad, forming complicated daisy chains which can only be broken out of by desperate measures, slyly one upping each other, and yes, they do play London Bridge. But it is all musically apt, oddly stylish, and very very funny.

The novelty was the underwater scene from “The Humpbacked Horse”, a Russian full-length fairy tale ballet, which includes, inevitably, a suite of dances, credited, in this case, to Marius Petipa. Petipa is listed in the program as the Trocks “stylistic guru”, and unlike some other classical companies, this is not an empty boast. The ballet was set by Elena Kunikova, who trained at the Kirov and danced at the Maly, a small Russian company which prided itself in accurate recreations of older ballets. So this comes with as good or better (probably better) a pedigree than many of the “after-Petipa” extravaganzas we can see now. Yes, the star fish (Colette Adae and Doris Vidanya) did wear glasses, but their variation was a sparkling pizzicato. Their Queen, Olga Supphovoza, does have a waist the size of a linebacker, but she also has a beautiful arabesque. The emboités were danced with such oomph that they could have been a can-can, but it was recognizable as Petipa choreography, and made me want to see it straight.

There was one last treat in store, an encore for the enthusiastic audience. To the most syrupy version of “Winder Wonderland” imaginable, the company, with appropriate headgear, danced a very poor man’s Rockette routine, complete with fake snow and cheesy smiles. The announcer began the evening by saying that all the ballerinas were in “a very very good mood”, and by the end of the evening so was the audience.

Photos by Sascha Vaughn

Volume 3, No. 1
January 3, 2005
Copyright ©2005 by Mary Cargill


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Robert Greskovic reviews two new DVDs of Fonteyn dancing "Sleeping Beauty" and "Cinderella"

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last updated on January 3, 2005