Legendary all male comedy ballet company, ‘the Trocks,’ return to Aspen
IF YOU GO …
Who: Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, presented by Aspen Santa Fe Ballet
Where: Aspen District Theatre
When: Saturday, Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m.
How much: $36-$94
Tickets: Wheeler Opera House box office; aspenshowtix.com
The absurd, witty and over-the-top physical comedy of the beloved Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo returns to Aspen this weekend.
The all-male comedy ballet company, since 1974, has been infusing some welcome humor into the staid traditions of classical ballet with parodies of high-art standards like “Swan Lake.”
“We are not there to laugh at ballet,” said Raffaele Morra, the company’s ballet master and former dancer. “We are there to use ballet as a way to have a fun time and to laugh with ballet.”
The technical skill required of these dancers — affectionately known to international audiences as “the Trocks” — may be easy to overlook because they’re purposely making some mistakes and incorporating some madcap physical comedy into the pieces. But make no mistake, these men in tutus and pointed shoes are some of the most talented dancers on Earth. In order to parody “Swan Lake,” Morra noted, they have to be able to dance “Swan Lake” flawlessly.
“What requires more time is to make them understand how you have to let go of some of the technical aspect in order to find some of the humor,” Morra explained. “That’s very difficult for a dancer, to let go and not take yourself so seriously, especially after you’ve spent a lifetime in front of a mirror trying to achieve perfection in your technique.”
The company returns to Aspen on the Saturday night of Gay Ski Week, following a December residency at the Joyce Theatre in Manhattan, where the Trocks revived its send-up of Robert La Fosse’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Morra said the company had been mulling taking on “Stars and Stripes” a few years ago, but put it on hold after the election of Donald Trump.
“We didn’t think it was right at the time for us to bring back such a big celebration ballet with music from John Philip Sousa and others in a moment when we didn’t feel we should celebrate,” he explained.
But a few years later, yes, men in drag waving the flag feels just right.
“We do feel the need to celebrate, to say ‘We need to keep going,’ ‘We need to make this happen again,’” he said. “Because the political situation is not great from our point of view, we want to say ‘Keep celebrating no matter what.’”
The company has never been overtly political, but has spent four decades on the front lines of gay representation in American culture.
“With the Trocks, we never want to make a political statement or take sides,” Morra said. “The main purpose of this company has always been — and always will be — to bring fun, laughter and good times to the audience.”
The company has evolved with the times, always prioritizing the laughs and the satire, even as the culture wars have raged outside the theater doors.
“We just have to listen to society,” Morra said. “If you see what the company was 44 years ago, the concept was the same, but it has changed a lot because we’ve always paid attention to what society needed and how we needed to evolve. We need to ‘Keep on Trocking,’ as we always say.”