A night at the ballet ensures an evening filled with grace, beauty, elegance and humor.
Wait, humor? Well, that’s how the long-running professional dance troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo does it. The all-male company has been performing a playful send-up of classical ballet since 1974. The dancers parody a full range of ballet and modern dance repertoires in their shows.
Tory Dobrin, artistic director of the Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (affectionately shortened to Trocks because, man, is that a mouthful otherwise), said while there is comedy, there also is real dance in each performance.
“We are satirizing dance styles,” said Dobrin, himself a company member for 18 years before taking over as artistic director. “It’s a comedy ballet, but we’re all trained dancers. We love the ballet form, but also like to have fun. We take these ballets and kind of twist them around.”
The company currently has 14 dancers, who perform both the male and female parts in the show. The practice, while played up by the Trocks for comedic effect, was not uncommon in the early days of the dance form when, as in theater, all the roles in a performance were played by men.
“This is nothing new to artistic history,” Dobrin said. “There is nothing strange about it. Our company is sort of a parody of the old ballet companies that circulated the globe in the ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and ’60s. It’s making fun of these old dusty Russian companies.”
The program includes the beloved classic “Swan Lake,” the company’s signature piece, as well other classical and modern works. Dobrin likens what the dancers do to the Harlem Globetrotters. What the Globetrotters do with basketball, the Trocks do with ballet – have fun, prompt laughs and show real skill.
“We’re taking a form and having fun with it. That’s basically what we do,” he said.
The group performs across the globe. Earlier this year, dancers were in France and Sweden; later this summer, they head to Germany. The group was called “part goofy, part glorious” by The New York Times.
Dobrin said the shows bring out a varied crowd of dance novices and aficionados. And that, he said, is part of the fun.
“What people will see is really good dancing and really good comedy,” he said. “I don’t think they’re necessarily expecting that – such high-level dancing and high-level comedy. We cast a wide net from people who love ballet to people who don’t love ballet. And that’s what is interesting about the audience. You don’t normally see that when you go to the ballet.”
No, indeed you don’t.