Sunday, August 2, 2015

Trocks joyfully open Dance Celebration

The all-male ballet troupe affectionately call themselves the Trocks and frolic like lords-a-leaping.

Trocks joyfully open Dance Celebration

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By Merilyn Jackson

Ovations, spiked with wolf whistles, erupted throughout much of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo's Thursday night opening Dance Celebration program at the Annenberg Center.

And the Trocks, as they affectionately call themselves, shamelessly cadged for more. Even during the final poignant moments of his solo - Mikhail Fokine's Dying Swan, to the famous Saint-Saëns music - Roberto Forleo, as Marina Plezegetovstageskaya, lifted his false eyelashes and furled his manicured fingertips, hustling for applause. But with his feathers flying, his chicken-walk deserved kudos.

His? But you knew the Trocks were an all-male ballet troupe, didn't you? And they dance en pointe, which can't be easy for some of the more jock-like body types. But the nearly 40-year-old company, with its ever-evolving corps, makes it seem so. With perfect port de bras and willowy arms, not only do they bourrée on tippy-toe to and fro and turn multiple fouettés, they leap like frolicking lords.

They began with their (in)famous Swan Lake, Act II. Paolo Cervellera, as Viacheslav Legupski, is Von Rothbart, running in circles, cape unfurled and with short dreads bouncing behind his bandanna-covered head. Was it he who kicked one of the cygnets over? No matter, these dancers recover from pratfalls and sideswipes with professional poise. In the famous synchronized quartet with arms en chaine, three cygnets carry on while one on the end does her own thing.

Raffaele Morra (Lariska Dumbchenko) as the Swan Queen Odette, falls (literally) for Prince Siegfried (Trystan Merrick as Mischa Youloustski) giving the coup disgrace to Rothbart.

But later, in the Black Swan Pas de Deux, Rothbart (now Giovanni Ravelo as Marat Legupski) wins out by confusing the Prince with Odile, danced uncannily by Chase Johnsey as Yakatarina Verbosovich. Here, Carlos Hopuy (Innokenti Smoktumuchsky) takes over as the Prince and gives astonishing ballon with his jetés.

In Go for Barroco, a quartet in simple black frocks take on Balanchine (Ballandchain - appellation mine) variations - speedwalking and circling in wide third position demi-pliés.

Laurencia had a Spanish theme, all triple-tiered skirts, mantilla combs, and toreador pants. The robust Robert Carter (Olga Supphozova) danced Laurencia with countless fouettés, and Paolo Cervellera (Tino Xirau Lopez) wowed with his long series of barrel turns.

By opening with Swan Lake, the Trocks gave away too much, too early. But they make you laugh with them, not at them, and are truly a holiday hoot.

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About this blog

Toby Zinman's night job since 2006 is theater critic for the Inquirer where she reviews New York and London as well as Philadelphia. Her day job: Prize-winning prof at UArts, author of five books about modern and contemporary drama, and doer of scholarly deeds (winner of five NEH grants, Fulbright lecturer at Tel Aviv University, visiting professor in China). She was recently named by American Theatre magazine "one of the twelve most influential critics in America."

Wendy Rosenfield has written freelance features and theater reviews for The Inquirer since 2006. She was theater critic for the Philadelphia Weekly from 1995 to 2001, after which she enjoyed a five-year baby-raising sabbatical. She serves on the board of the American Theatre Critics Association, was a participant in the Bennington Writer's Workshop, a 2008 NEA/USC Fellow in Theater and Musical Theater, and twice was guest critic for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival's Region II National Critics Institute. She received her B.A. from Bennington College and her M.L.A. from the University of Pennsylvania. She also is a fiction writer, was proofreader to a swami, publications editor for the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and spends all her free time working out and driving people places. Follow her on Twitter @WendyRosenfield.

Jim Rutter has reviewed theater for The Inquirer since September, 2011. Since 2006, he covered dance, theater and opera for the Broad Street Review, and has also written for many suburban newspapers, including The Main Line Times. In 2009, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded him a Fellowship in Arts Journalism. Thames & Hudson released his updated and revised version of Ballet and Modern Dance in June, 2012. From 1998 to 2005, he taught philosophy and logic at Drexel, and then Widener University. He also coaches Olympic Weightlifting for Liberty Barbell, and has competed at the national level in that sport since 2001.

Merilyn Jackson regularly writes on dance for The Inquirer and other publications. She specializes in the arts, literature, food, travel, and Eastern European culture and politics. In 2001, she was dance critic in residence at the Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland; in 2005, she received an NEA Critics’ Fellowship to Duke University’s Institute for Dance Criticism. She likes to say that dance was her first love but that when she discovered writing she began to cheat on dance. Now that she writes about dance, she’s made an honest woman of herself, although she also writes poetry.

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