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Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (Tour - Salford)

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Arriving at The Lowry direct from their New York Christmas season, the Trocks return for a UK tour with a programme that, as ever, mixes the very highest of camp with something striving, and often succeeding, to be high, -ish, art.

This all-male American ensemble has long been a much-loved comic turn with dance fans around the world and those fans will be relieved to know that although this present bill contains new material, the basics are very much as before - it’s men dancing in tutus, with plenty of camp and corny slapstick, layered with in-jokes for the ballet sophisticates.

The more you know your ballets, the more you will appreciate just how well the Trocks are versed in their dance history.

The Lowry programme – it varies a little from venue to venue – kicks off with Les Sylphides, one of the mainstays of the Trocks’ programme since 1976 and not, in this bill, the most successful item because it’s the most obvious send-up.

But it is still amusing, with the corps – wigged and plastered in pancake – totally failing to sustain poses and collapsing in assorted heaps. The star here however is Viacheslav Legupski, alias Paolo Cervellera, as the Prince, expressionless, head in the air, gazing vacantly into the far distance, he is just so, so, closely related to all those Princes you have speculated about in ballet companies far too august to name and shame here.

The Black Swan pas de deux, another mainstay, is where the evening comes really alive, with a magnificently strong Odile from Yakatarina Verbosovich (Chase Johnsey) that almost makes you forget this is a bloke.

And from there on in the gender bending gets more and more confusing as men morph so convincingly into women and the men playing men look ever more feminine.

Paul Ghiselin, (Ida Nevesayneva), deservedly receives a rapturous ovation for his, seriously moulting, Dying Swan and the hi-jinks conclude with the utterly camp as a field of tents, Walpurgis Night, a confection whipped up from a Bolshoi staple, to music by Gounod, in which Nymphs, half-naked Fauns, Maidens, Pan and others run seriously riot.

The standard of execution is as high as ever, the fun quotient possibly better than ever and it unarguably remains the most fun night out you’ll ever have at the ballet.

- Alan Hulme

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