Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Photo by Zoran Jelenic.
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Photo by Zoran Jelenic.

What an interesting twist of fate that Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (aka The Trocks), an all-male ballet troupe, performed the same weekend of the Women’s March.

From a morning marching for women’s rights, to an evening watching men dismantle gender in ballet – an art form that originally excluded women and has now become synonymous with femininity – created a fascinating study in gender fluidity for the day.

Of course, watching The Trocks is nothing like a gender studies class. It is, instead, a seamless blend of performances that are both straight-up hilarious and movingly sincere.

With a repertoire that includes pieces from classical ballet’s greatest hits (Swan Lake, Cinderella, and Romeo and Juliet) to brand new choreography, their Vancouver performance included the third act of Swan Lake (one of their flagship pieces), a piece from Esmerelda, and Don Quixote, plus an original modern work.

The tone is instantly set for the irreverent when the voice-over introduction lets the audience know that (thank goodness) the ballerinas are all in a very good mood. From that moment until the bottom of the show, The Trocks’ self-referential humour shows a deep love and appreciation for ballet with a keen ability to mix in multiple layers of humour, applying everything from the tropes of drag performances to slapstick comedy.

These men are so strong that they melt into their roles, balancing en pointe with the grace and lightness of any prima ballerina, before transforming into caricatures of wicked wizards.

Of course, it would all be a mess if it weren’t for the skill underneath the humour. When you have dancers falling over, kicking each other in the face, eating apples on stage, or suddenly realizing they’ve gone the wrong way, it only works if their true abilities are impeccable, and they are. These men are so strong that they melt into their roles, balancing en pointe with the grace and lightness of any prima ballerina, before transforming into caricatures of wicked wizards.

The dancing was so lovely that it is hard to say what aspects of the show were better: the comedy or the moments when they danced with such sincere beauty that I temporarily forgot that there was a parody going on.

No further performances.