BWW Review: LES BALLETS DE TROCKADERO DE MONTE CARLO And Guest Brooke Lynn Hytes Bring Camp, Laughs, And Sheer Talent To Classic Ballet
All-male ballet companies aren't uncommon, but one of the world's leading groups in the genre have taken classical ballet to a whole new level with a laugh-out-loud program of iconic works, performed gorgeously by a talented ensemble.
LES BALLETS DE TROCKADERO DE Monte Carlo, presented by Show One Productions, make a triumphant return to Toronto with their latest mixed program, featuring works from and inspired by Swan Lake, Valpurgeyeva Noch, and Jules Perrot's Grand Pas de Quatre. In the Saturday March 7 performance, they also performed a pas de deux in the second act that fit wonderfully with the pas de quatre and solo 'Dying Swan' performance.
The latter solo is considered to be one of the most iconic in the medium, so naturally, The Trocks bring back a former company member - Toronto native and RuPaul's Drag Race season 11 runner-up - Brooke Lynn Hytes to dance the work. Hytes' performance is sublime, both in its athleticism and comedic inflection, and her costume's constant shedding of feathers makes for a great gag and a gorgeous set piece against the stark black stage.
The entire company brings a perfect balance of pure dance and self-aware comedy that fails to grow old. Even when jokes are made multiple times, they respect the rule of three. They lean into stereotypes of the prima ballerina, especially in the Pas de Quatre. And most importantly, they flip between subtlety and over-the-top slapstick that always seems to fit the piece they're dancing.
What really enhances the comedic aspects of The Trocks' performances is that they are incredibly talented dancers. While it's funny to see one jokingly take a tumble, the fact remains that they are performing moves that are traditionally only done by female dancers. The pointe work featured throughout the program seemingly defies gravity, especially from ensemble members Yeric Valentino, Kevin Garcia, Duane Gosa, and Giovanni Ravelo in the pas de quatre.
The most well-known works of the evening come from Swan Lake, and the opening piece from the ballet's Act 2 is enhanced by solid work by its Swan Queen (Carlos Hopuy) and fantastic comedic supports from the Prince (Gosa) and his confidant Benno (Valentino). The final work of the evening is inspired by a Bolshoi Ballet work and seems to be the most physically demanding piece in the program. Leads Bacchante (Takaomi Yoshino) and Bacchus (Valentino) both show incredible control, with a series of lifts, grabs, and supports that show the beauty of the piece and the skill it takes to perform something of its caliber. The work also features great comedic work from its ensemble of fauns and maidens, led by Pan (Hopuy).
What makes LES BALLETS DE TROCKADERO DE Monte Carlo special is how they've managed to make ballet a bit less intimidating for crowds who might not have previous exposure to the genre. Ballet is a beautiful medium, but it's not something many younger generations feel they can access or enjoy. Through comedy and gorgeous dance, The Trocks breathe new life and energy into classical ballet, and that alone is a win - the skill they have and their ability to inflict pure artistry into their work is just an additional bonus that is sure to inspire a love of dance in new viewers.
Show One Productions' LES BALLETS DE TROCKADERO DE Monte Carlo ran through March 8 at the Winter Garden Theatre, 189 Yonge St, Toronto, ON.
For more information, visit https://trockadero.org/performances/
Photo credit: Zoran Jelenic