Click HERE, to go to a movie project inspired by this show
Normally, I must confess, I wouldn’t have bothered to go and see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.
I remember that when Richard Branson asked me to Berlin to interview Tangerine Dream, Edgar Froese took me and Gloria to a “travesties” ballet, where all the prima donnas had hairy chests, and for some reason I was terribly embarrassed by the spectacle.
I felt much the same for many years about pantomime dames, and it wasn’t until I began laughing at the brilliant Les Dawson’s gurning that I managed to get into men dressed as women.
(That was before the Kinks’ Lola, you understand.)
In this case, however, I was invited by a friend (thank you, Felix) to celebrate with him some business success or other, and after the first few minutes, I began to enjoy myself hugely. And already I was being inspired to make a movie that might, just possibly, star these wonderful dancers.
Yes, they are funny, but as Les Dawson showed us, it requires great technical skill to perform badly. And, speaking as a man who was transfixed by Rudolph Nureyev’s spectacular leaps in Le Corsaire, there is not the slightest doubt about the expertise of these dancers, even (or especially) when they are acting the fool.
And while it is no longer unheard of men to dance sur les pointes, for some reason it’s still astonishing when one sees the weaker sex up on their toes.
But just as there is considerable technique at the service of the comedy, the gender-bending of the all-male cast has more serious implications at a time when David Cameron’s “gay marriage” digression from the true business of government, and the Church of England is tearing itself apart with non-issues like gay clergy and women bishops.
Not having bought the programme until the interval left me with more questions than answers, I was half-convinced that half the dancers were female. It was easy to tell the sexes apart, I reasoned: the males had hairy armpits, while the females were shaved smooth as the proverbial baby’s bum.
The clue, for those with eyes to see, was the undisguisable masculinity of those bulging calves and thigh muscles.
The biggest shock of the show, however, had nowt to do with gender or sexuality, but caught all by surprise when one dancer lurched to front of stage to tumble arse over tip into the orchestra pit – only to climb back, seemingly unharmed by “her” mishap, rejoining the corps with a cheerful wave of the hand to the audience, whose collective gasp of horror marked this out as one of the great coups de théatre of modern times.
Les Trocks (as I’m learning to call them, since familiarity has dispelled any contempt I might have formerly had for the genre), are now in Brighton until Saturday, following which they’ll be in Newcastle, Edinburgh, and Belfast (full details at http://www.danceconsortium.com/touring/les-ballets-trockadero-de-monte-carlo-2013/tour-dates/).
Be there or be square, as I’m always saying.
And now . . .
. . . presenting a movie project inspired by
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
Working title: TALCUM. Alternatives: French Chalk. Chalk Dust
Logline: Doncha dare put Grease on my blue suede ballet shoes!
(Rock songs will be composed by Karl Dallas. Travesties dancers could be recruited from Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo)
The all-male ballet company, Les Travesties de St Salford, had fallen on hard times. There wasn’t enough money to pay for their lodgings never mind keeping the dancers’ bodies and souls together. So when their director, Ivan Ivanasmuch (real name BIlly Barlow) brought in a new backer It seemed like manna from heaven.
Except that the money man wanted to make some changes to their established repertoire. Like swapping out the music of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and bringing in a Grease-type rock band and hip-hop dancers.
But money doesn’t talk it swears, as the man said, so pretty soon the established dancers were trying to fit in with the new regime.
Rock and hip-hop were bad enough, but the interlopers even included some WOMEN! And when the leading Travesties dancer took a shine to one of them, his boyfriend in the ballet was decidedly dischuffed – until he himself paired up with a VERY butch hip-hop MC.
So all comes good in the end, and the movie climaxes (pun entirely intentional) with a gender-bending routine, in which boys dance with boys, boys dance with girls, girls dance with girls, and the audience is rioting in the aisles.