According to the Sunday Times blurb on the cover of the program, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is “the funniest night you will ever have at the Ballet.” The Trocks, as they are affectionately known, present scenes from the great ballets with men playing all the parts, so we were expecting a fun night. But with the revelation that the “to be announced” in the program would be the pas de deux from Le Corsaire, we all sat up and took notice. Many of us had tickets for the Pennsylvania Ballet’s performance of that very ballet at the Academy of Music the following night! With a scene from last year’s Don Quixote already on the schedule, we were in for a meta night.
The Trocks dance a precarious balancing act. Men in tights and tutus: what is not funny about that? So they have to acknowledge the absurdity of men en pointe up front. But if they want to tell the joke, and not be the joke, they have to be very good. The silly bits have to be their choice, and the Trocks made that stunningly clear, in dance that ranged from the beautiful to the utterly absurd (the dying swan leaves feathers all over the stage).
The Le Corsaire pas de deux (Long Zou dancing as Nina Inimenimynimova and Lazlo Major dancing as Araf Legupski) offered a few nods to comedy, but none so broad that they pulled the audience out of the dance for more than a moment. The balancing act veered much closer to excellent dancing than it did to comedy, except for the meta part. The fun is not just on the Prince stage but in the interplay with the Academy of Music, the middle space where high art meets a gently humorous commentary in kind. The Trocks set the bar very high—can high art measure up?