Review – Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Milton Keynes Theatre, 23rd March 2011
Yay! The Trocks are back! Refreshed, revitalised and more athletic than ever! If you’ve seen them before you know they each take on the persona of a male and a female ballet star, from the finest Soviet tradition. You’ll also know this is no mere comedy show but a display of the most exquisitely controlled ballet you could possibly find outside the world’s top companies. We’ve been coming to see them for years now, and every time we get really excited at the prospect and always love their shows. I guess you could call us “fans”.
Over the years, of course, one develops one’s favourites, and some of them were on stage last night. My favourite Trock of all time, Comrade Ida Nevasayneva, a.k.a. M. Velour Pilleaux, a.k.a. Paul Ghiselin, is the Ballet Master of the company and regrettably wasn’t performing. When he takes on the role of von Rothbart in Swan Lake he completely cracks me up, I can’t think of a funnier non-speaking performance. Last night though we had another really excellent von Rothbart, Yuri Smirnov, as performed by the brilliant Robert Carter. I had hoped Mr Carter’s other alter ego, Olga Supphozova, would play Odette, as his/her interpretation of that role can’t be beaten. However he was a great von Rothbart, maniacally evil when things are going his way, pathetically impotent when the Prince pulls stronger on the Odette tug-of-war.
And what a Prince! Ashley Romanoff-Titwillow, as danced by Joshua Grant, absolutely embodied how splendid the dance can be on those moments when the comedy takes a back seat (which is never for long). His first solo was breathtaking. Mrs Chrisparkle gasped audibly. It was great. Odette herself was danced by Maya Thickenthighya (Emanuel Abruzzo in real life). He/she has joined the company since we last saw them and is a first rate new recruit. When you’ve seen the Trocks as often as we have, you get to see different incarnations of the same diva. She is very different from the Maya Thickenthighya I remember in the 1990s, who was a much more hirsute and stocky version!
The supporting corps were marvellous as always, with extra special comedy brilliance from Vanya Verikosa (Brock Hayhoe). She really threw herself in to it. I also enjoyed Christopher Lam as Boris Nowitsky playing (not really dancing) Benno. Great with the facial interpretations; best Benno I’ve seen since Igor Slowpokin. The Pas de deux that opened the second act was beautifully performed by (I think) Colette Adae (Claude Gamba) and Andrei Leftov (Boysie Dakobe, another terrific new Trock). Again the grace, skill and athleticism these guys create on stage is amazing. Apart from the fact that Colette looked a bit butch you would never know you weren’t at the Mariinsky.
Then we had Go for Barocco, to the music of the Brandenburg Concertos, simply, deftly staged, with its trademark dance that mixes pure classical style with Olympic Road Race Walk. I was delighted to see Lariska Dumbchenko (Raffaele Morra) join us for that one. Ms Dumbchenko exudes sheer elegance until she starts haring it across the stage all guns blazing.
And of course, the Dying Swan. I wish I knew how they position those loose feathers in the costume so that they continue to fall out at a constant pace. It never fails to delight, and Ms Thickenthighya executed her beautifully.
Of all the dance companies I can bring to mind, this is the one that most constantly achieves balletic excellence. The pointe work is amazing. Sometimes you just find yourself staring at their feet in awe and ignoring the comedy. Their leaps are stunning. That move they do, sorry I don’t know the technical name, when they spin round several times whilst kicking their legs out and in at the same place on each spin is extraordinary. And no one can do that like Ms Supphozova as she showed us in the final act, Raymonda’s Wedding. It’s a joyous piece that brings the whole company together, blending the finest dance with top physical comedy. The coupling of the extremely tall Katerina Bychkova with the extremely short Andrei Leftov is pure genius. And of course it leads us to their finale, which always brings whoops from the audience.
As you can tell, we loved it. Their UK tour lasts another three or so weeks, so see if you can get tickets for High Wycombe, Birmingham, Sheffield, Bradford, Edinburgh or Salford. And we even got a signed poster too for £10. Bargain!