Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo ***
THE Jocks in Frocks are back in town. And just to prove that this ballet pastiche is more than drag queens in tutu land, they are really rather good at the proper ballet bits.
What’s more, they are pretty hot at the pastiche and comedy, although there are points when subtle irony would have worked better than laying on the slap-stick with a trowel. But this is an American company.
It’s almost 30 years since the Trocks, as they are known, first cross-dressed on a ballet stage. What was a bit of a joke has grown into a fully fledged "International Dance Sensation". And if the idea seams ludicrous, the reason for the success becomes clear over an evening’s performance.
The first of the three acts is pure comedy. Here is Le Lac Des Cygnes, or Swan Lake Act II. If the story is well told, the little mimes which the dancers use to do so are preposterous, and the dancing itself is a hilarious send-up of all things classical ballet.
But it is the attention to detail which really impresses. The conceit of the whole piece is that the Trocks are tired and hammy Russian ballerinas with names like Margeaux Mundeyn and Fifi Barkova. And the male dancers create these creatures with a consistent attention to character.
Add the kind of choreography which takes the story literally while forcing lanky men to dance as graceful swans, and the comedy flows naturally without having to force it.
Into the second act, and the true abilities of these male dancers becomes more apparent. The first or two "surprise pas-de-deux" is from the Nutcracker. And the falling over and nudge-nudge comedy of the first act is completely forgotten.
This might not be danced completely straight, but it is much closer to what you would expect to see on a real ballet stage.
The Trocks also prove that their clowning can go beyond classical ballet with a piece called Go For Barocco. Here is a much more contemporary piece of dance. And here, once again, the execution of the steps is precise, but the way they are put together will hold plenty of comedy for the true dance fan.
Anyone who has not heard of L’Ecole de Ballet need only read the name of the composer, Jean-Claude Pastiche, to guess that the final act of the evening is going to be a succulent little bundle of "anything goes".
And so it is that the Trocks finish off the night with every angle of their clever act on display. Slapstick and subtlety are combined to create a piece which is both mocking and deferential.
• Run ends tonight