Stepping gingerly around an invisible pile of bird droppings, Innokenti Smoktumuchsky (say it slowly) elicited the first big laugh of the evening. Playing the role of the Prince’s friend in Swan Lake, the dancer – known in real life as Carlos Hopuy – made it clear that Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is to be enjoyed on many levels.
First there’s the humour, which comes thick and fast: a dancer slips over; another is whacked by a stray foot; petty rivalries break out in the corps de ballet until a packed theatre is laughing.
But just when newcomers think they’ve got the measure of this all-male, New York-based (but Russian-inspired) ballet troupe, the landscape changes. Chase Johnsey and Laszlo Major arrive to deliver the pas de deux from Le Corsaire – and it’s magnificent. Quite possibly the best thing I’ve ever seen the Trocks do. Athletic leaps, precision pointe work and devilishly fast pirouettes – with just two or three jokes thrown in for good measure. When they finish, the cheers are the loudest all evening – not because they’ve made us laugh, but because the dancing is just that good.
Nothing else on the programme reaches the dizzying heights of that duet, but there’s still a huge amount of enjoyment to be had from the melodramatic Dying Swan, the George Balanchine-inspired Go For Barocco and the narrative shenanigans of Don Quixote. Always a pleasure, a night with the Trocks should be in everyone’s dance calendar.
• Run ends today