All-male troupe in campy take on ballet classic 'Swan Lake'
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo mixes fun and finesse while getting to the pointe. The troupe hones its technical skill to poke fun at time-honored ballet gems traditionally portrayed by ballerinas.
When Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo's artistic director, Tory Dobrin, joined the fun and campy all-male dance company in 1980, it was considered a career killer.
“It was considered a career wrecker,” he said. “The dance world was not interested in what we were doing at all.”
But after working for a modern company in Los Angeles, studying at the Houston Ballet Academy and performing with the Dallas Ballet Company and at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Dobrin said he had finally found a dance home.
“Finally when I got to Trock, I said, 'Oh, this is a lot of fun ... I think I'm going to camp out here for a little while.”
He has been artistic director for the past 20 years.
Fun & Finesse
The Trocks, as they are affectionately known, are coming to the Hopkins Center of the Arts at Dartmouth College in Hanover for shows Saturday, June 29, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, June 30, at 7 p.m.
The troupe plans to perform what Dobrin calls “our greatest hits,” including its version of Act II of the ballet classic “Swan Lake,” complete with ruffled tutus.
“It's our campiest piece, based on the Royal Ballet version,” Dobrin said.
The troupe's Granite State show also will feature “Go for Barocco,” in the style of the modern ballets Balanchine created for New York City Ballet; a send-up of a French ballet-pantomime that was all the rage in late 19th-century St. Petersburg, and “Patterns in Space,” a double spoof of the choreography of Merce Cunningham and the music of John Cage.
The company also is offering an intermediate level classical ballet master class Saturday at 11 a.m. at the White River Ballet Academy in Vermont.
Trocks was founded in 1974 by a group of ballet enthusiasts who wanted to pay homage to traditional ballet, while also parodying it.
From off off-Broadway, the New York City-based troupe now performs year round, all around the world.
Turns out men can dance on pointe, Dobrin said, who likes to compare it to playing tennis.
Steffi Graf has a fluid more graceful stroke, he said. “Andre Agassi has all the same strokes, just a more aggressive attack.”
“We're not trying to emulate women,” he said. “These guys are all very strong dancers, and they don't have a problem doing all of the pointe work that a woman does.”
Dobrin said so much has changed since he joined the troupe 33 years ago.
With time and technique, the company has earned good reviews and a measure of respect.
Now, dancers are pursuing spots in the company at 18, not when their careers are winding down, he said.
The Trocks' audience has diversified over the years, with a broad spectrum of ages and backgrounds.
“When I joined, of course, there were never any children in the audience, and now (there) are,” he said of crowds they've encountered across the globe. “It's actually a good introduction to ballet.”
In fact, on a recent return to a dance school in Hawaii, Dobrin said he learned that students graduating had said the Trocks' performance years ago had the biggest impact on them because of the combination of fun and skill the dancers had brought to their performances.
Dobrin said, generally, audiences should expect a lot of laughs, colorful costumes and superb dancing.
“It's a fun night at the ballet, and people will enjoy themselves, and hopefully be astounded by the technique, because we have some very strong dancers,” he said.
Tickets to the Trocks' Hanover performances range from $12.50 to $50 and can be purchased at the box office by calling 646-2422 or logging onto hop.dartmouth.edu.