It’s always a pleasure to welcome the Trocks back to the UK, and this is the first time we’ve seen them in two-and-a-half years, which is way too long. For this UK tour they’re starting at the Peacock Theatre in London with two one-week programmes, then taking in the rest of the country with a touring programme that combines the best of both London shows.
When you anticipate a Trocks performance, it’s the hilarious antics that you really look forward to, but you can never lose sight of the extraordinary dance talent within the company. There were some truly amazing performances in this show, at their best you won’t see better on the stage of the Bolshoi or at Covent Garden. Over the years one acquires an accumulated fondness for one’s favourite Trocks and two of my all-time favourites graced the stage at yesterday’s show; but every new tour gives you an opportunity to look out for new names, and there are plenty whom I can imagine will become firm favourites of the future.
After the usual introduction, and the relief of knowing that all of their ballerinas are in a very good mood this afternoon, we started with their perfect staging of Swan Lake Act II. I have been spoilt by having seen the redoubtable M. Velour Pillaux (the brilliant Paul Ghiselin) take the role of von Rothbart many times, and no one quite captures ludicrous camp scariness and the sense of physical exhaustion all that running around induces quite like him. However, I really enjoyed Vladimir Legupski (Duane Gosa) as von Rothbart, deftly controlling the wayward Odette, victoriously blowing on his sharp-shooter. We’ve seen some great Trock Odettes too, but this was the first time we’d seen Miss Nadia Doumiafeyva (Philip Martin-Nielson) and she is extraordinarily graceful and feminine, whilst remaining ruthless with the inept Benno, a fantastically funny performance by Pepe Dufka (Raffaele Morra). Our Prince was the brilliantly dour Sergey Legupski (Giovanni Goffredo) who had me in stitches from his first “mime conversation” with Odette. He did a brilliant slow walk across the stage routine. Our team of naughty cygnets also gave us a great allegro moderato, and, whilst it’s sometimes hard to identify individual Trocks in a group, I think it was Miss Maria Paranova (Carlos Renedo) who gave a particularly disobedient and impish performance. It’s always great to see how various dancers perform different parts of the dance in different ways, and I think you could watch this dozens of times and still get more out of it. Simply one of the funniest thirty minutes on any stage, anywhere.
Our Pas de Deux was Les Corsaires, and is one of those Trocks pieces where the sheer joy and artistry of the ballet completely eclipses the humour. The two dancers were absolutely brilliant – the immense strength of Araf Legupski (Laszlo Major), and the elegant grace of Miss Alla Snizova (Carlos Hopuy) – make for an amazing coupling, overflowing with pizazz and chutzpah. The Pas de Six, Esmeralda, that followed, doesn’t have a terribly interesting narrative thread – it’s just one miserable woman being unsuccessfully cheered up by four girls and a wet bloke – but, as you would expect, they do it with pure Trocks style. On the face of it, all Nina Immobilashvili (Alberto Pretto) has to do as Esmerelda is to look constantly heartbroken – which she does very well – but her pointe work is out of this world. There is also a cute running gag with supporting artiste Helen Highwaters’ (Duane Gosa) offstage fruit basket. We end the second session with the execution of the Dying Swan – this time it was Miss Eugenia Repelskii who did the deed, with refinement, a delectable sense of loss and tragedy, and severe penniferous alopecia.
Our final treat is the grand staging of Paquita, an elaborate swirling and twirling ballet by Petipa with rousing tunes by Minkus. Our wonderful ballerina was the attitudinal but pinpoint accurate Yakaterina Verbosovich (Chase Johnsey) supported by the magnificently lugubrious and almost embalmed Vyacheslav Legupski (Paolo Cervellera), who nevertheless pays sexual attention to the hairy-chested Lariska Dumbchenko (Rafaella Morra on fine form) whilst La Verbosovich isn’t looking. Embellished with a sequence of immaculately performed variations by six of the ballerinas, it’s a splendid combination of great dancing and wonderfully stupid comedy. The afternoon was wrapped up with the splendidly incongruous Lord of the Dance curtain call, with more smoke on stage than in Nigel Farage’s fantasy pub.
Brilliant fun and amazing dancing. We’ll be back for Programme 2!