Les Ballets Trockaderos

Peacock Theatre, London

As I sat in the dress circle of the Peacock Theatre last week, there was a soft, snuffling noise behind me: it was the strange and lovely sound of a dance critic weeping with laughter. The Trocks can have that effect. Their first mixed programme got off to a broadly comic start with a parody of Act 2 of Swan Lake - a smart choice. Although the humour is a little obvious in places, it assures the audience that they are there to enjoy themselves and sets them up for an evening of more subtle delights. La Esmeralda, although occasionally given an airing by the Kirov, is seldom danced in Britain, yet unfamiliarity was no barrier to either hysteria or genuine admiration and by the time we got to Paquita the audience was quite reconciled to long periods with a straight face.

A large contingent from the Royal Ballet were sat in the circle and Darcey Bussell and chums could be heard squealing with delight at the balances and gasping with sympathy at each hop on pointe. Robert Carter (alias Olga Supphozova) was particularly impressive. I've certainly seen it danced worse - and it wasn't by a man.

Supphozova was out in force again on Tuesday, appearing in three of the ballets in the company's second programme. The evening opens once again with a familiar classic, this time Act 2 of Giselle. The Trocks' Wilis are a creepy bunch of balletic zombies with partially decomposed faces and tutus as grey and grungey as old net curtains. Myrtha is played with indomitable cruelty by the beaky and statuesque Ida Nevasayneva (Paul Ghiselin) and Giselle by the diminutive Fifi Barkova (Roland Deaulin), whose nifty pointework and soulful manner were by turns heartbreaking and hilarious. The highlights came in the middle of the evening when Robert Carter powered his way through Grand pas Classique, which was played straight for the most part until the ballerina took to carting her partner around the stage in her arms. Go for Barocco is a wickedly observed pastiche of the sassy neo-classicism of George Balanchine. Mr B was noted for his affection for lean, leggy dancers in diamond earrings and practice clothes, but he gets more than he bargained for in Jai Williams, whose legs go on for a fortnight and whose high split jumps let his body sail across the stage with the angled menace of a javelin.

The evening concludes with Gaite Parisienne. It was interesting to see the audience laughing like drains at jokes that actually exist in Massine. They wouldn't laugh that loudly at a ballet company doing it - partly because they've lost their inhibitions but largely because the Trocks have greater comic gifts.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. To Sunday, Peacock Theatre, London WC2 (0171-314 8800)

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