Theatre: A seething ego pit laid bare
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo Peacock Theatre, London
Friday 16 January 1998
Wednesday night kicked off with Les Sylphides, Mikhail Fokine's tribute to the Romantic era. The Trocks upstaged one another with vigorous abandon, laying bare the seething ego pit beneath the serene screen of classical dance. Such displays of balletic bad manners form the basis for the Trocks' most reliable gags and there were more tantrums to be had in the Pas de Quatre, Trutti Gasparinetti's imaginative reconstruction of those heavenly four nights in 1845 when the manager of Her Majesty's Theatre, Benjamin Lumley, managed to persuade four of the greatest ballerinas who ever lived (Lucile Grahn, Carlotta Grisi, Fanny Cerrito and Marie Taglioni) to share the same stage in an orgy of insincerity and pink tulle. The Trocks are not the first to find humour in Jules Perrot's divertissement (Anton Dolin's gently comic version dates from 1941). The Trocks lay it on a little thicker and their treatment of Taglioni is less reverential. At 41, the immortal creator of La Sylphide was the oldest of the four and Paul Ghiselin's Ida Nevasayneva played her with an exaggeratedly prim geriatric grace, her arthritic limbs locked in Sylph mode with her finger forever artfully angled under her chin. David Tetrualt's Fanny Cerrito (always dismissed by the Taglionisti as a mere sauteuse) dashes off her pirouettes, the other two upstage each other mercilessly and the smirking quartet finally reassemble in a reconstruction of the famous watercolour in which Alfred Chalon captured those famous nights at Her Majesty's.
As always, there are pleasures at every level, with clever ballet in- jokes generously interleaved with dancers simply falling over or elbowing each other out of the way. The one thing that the whole audience is sure to enjoy is the dancing itself. Packed with bravura touches, the Trocks ballerinas' dancing also abounds with subtleties.
Man of the match was unquestionably Robert Carter (alias Olga Supphozova). At 22, he has the stamina and technique for brisk jetes, endlessly unravelling chaine turns and fouettes sprinkled with double and triple pirouettes - surely a ballerina trapped in a man's body. By the end of Robert La Fosse's delicious baton-twirling Balanchine pastiche, Stars and Stripes Forever, you would imagine that any ballet dancer would want to limp home and stick their feet in a nice hot bucket of water. Instead, the Trocks gave a spirited parody of Riverdance that reduced an already highly excitable audience to a state of frenzied gratitude.
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