Members of the all-male dance comedy troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo perform "Swan Lake Act II."
By Sara Bauknecht Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Whether you're a lover of ballet or just a lover of laughter, the all-male comedy dance troupe Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo promises it has something for you.
Since 1974, the Trocks, as they're more casually known, have pas de bouree their way into theaters and hearts around the world with their unique blend of professionally polished classical ballet and drag art.
"The audience is coming to have a fun time," says artistic director Tory Dobrin. "They're not necessarily coming for the dancing part. They're coming for the comedy part, but what we do is we give them both."
Friday, the Pittsburgh Dance Council will bring the Trocks to Pittsburgh for the first time since 2001. The show at Byham Theater, Downtown, is part of a U.S. tour that will take the New York-based company to nearly 30 cities.
"A woman will come see the show who loves ballet but will bring her husband who hates ballet but wants to laugh," Mr. Dobrin says. "There will be something for every generation there."
But the group hasn't always attracted such positive or diverse attention.
"When I joined in 1980, it was sort of career wrecker," Mr. Dobrin says, due to society's perception of drag at the time. But pop culture has helped alter that.
"Drag is popular. Times have changed, so that would expand the number of people who are interested in seeing us. I can't imagine it has done anything but help," he says.
"Now that we're in 2013, it's actually a career choice for a lot of dancers."
The dozen-plus roster is made up of men from across the globe with previous stints at professional companies such as Dance Theatre of Harlem, Ohio Ballet and English National Ballet. This caliber of accolades serves the men well when staging the Trocks' classically rooted repertory.
"What we try to do is we try to be traditional in everything that we do," Mr. Dobrin says, with works primarily stemming from the Russian ballet form.
The Trocks' comedic twist comes from their quirky presentation. Costumes, for example, might be more colorful than tutus worn by Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and makeup is more exaggerated.
"It's more visual."
Also, the men portray female aliases and dance en pointe, another switch from the typical ballet roles for men.
"The guys who come to the company are already trained, so it's just like adding another skill," Mr. Dobrin says, likening the transition to an athlete developing a new ability. "When I joined I hadn't been on pointe, but now the guys are becoming very comfortable."
In Pittsburgh, the Trocks will share a mixed repertory program with two intermissions, opening with "Swan Lake Act II" danced to Tchaikovsky. Some other offerings will include "Go for Barocco" with Bach music and the French style "Paquita" set to Ludwig Minkus.
"What I'm hoping to do is look around and see people with really great smiles on their faces looking like they're having a really nice time," Mr. Dobrin says.