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Flash Review 1, 8-20: Redux and Renewed
Les Ballets and More from the Trocks

By Susan Yung
Copyright 2002 Susan Yung

NEW YORK -- Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo inhabits August at the Joyce Theater as reliably as the swallows land at San Juan Capistrano in October. Sometimes, this regularity lulls us into taking the company for granted. But in a program seen Saturday, the troupe performed a new production of an old work by Agnes de Mille that displayed an unexpected mature twist in the process of the Trocks' evolution, as well as selections from repertory disproving the recurring creeping feeling that if you've seen the company once, you've seen it all. The Trocks always make an impression, as do the swallows.

"Debut at the Opera," a New York premiere of a production which bowed in 1928, was reconstructed by Janet Eilber after choreography by Agnes de Mille. This solo, based on Degas's paintings of ballet dancers waiting in the wings for their entrances, featured Ida Nevasayneva, a.k.a., Paul Ghiselin (all the Trocks have both real names and stage names). The premise at first struck me as affected, but when Ghiselin hit one of several of the artist's famed compositions, it was a bried, brilliant epiphany cloaked in calibrated serendipity. For instance, when he stood in repose in a fourth position, hands on hips jutting slightly forward, he could have been the young girl depicted by Degas rather than a lank-limbed vet. Sure, there were still "oy vey" jokes of the sort that give the Trocks everyperson appeal -- involving dancers collapsing in exaggerated exhaustion, hamming it up at inappropriate times, and the recently added "you go, girl" look. But genuinely touching moments sparkled throughout the brief piece, a valuable addition to the group's repertoire.

Speaking of repertoire, the Trocks ended the program with "Don Quixote." Choreography is credited to Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky, with staging by Pamela Pribisco, the company's ballet mistress. This DQ followed the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink edict, balancing the rarified, spare quality of "Debut." If the demure waitresses weren't centerstage, the grotesque gypsies were; sometimes both tussled for space. The magic of the Trocks emerged in a duet between Basil (RM "Prince" Myshkin/Fernando Medina Gallego) and Kitri (Fifi Barkova/Manolo Molina), whose noble carriage and fantastic fanwork in fouettes made for a sympathetic fairy tale character despite the performer's fullback build. Nadia Rombova/Jai Williams as Amour stole the glamour prize in a Vegas-worthy silver toga and wig.

Williams had a similar affect in "La Vivandiere Pas de Six," staged by Elena Kunikova, with choreography by Arthur Saint Leon. He embodies the haut-couture feminine ideal: six feet plus, limbs of uncommon length, narrow hips which allow for very high extensions, and huge eyes filligreed with colored rhinestones. He towered over his partner, the sweet Nikolai Legupski/Carlos Garcia, evoking -- as archetypal females do -- wonder and fear. This work followed the "bonus" duet from Robert La Fosse's "Stars and Stripes," featuring the ever-amazing triple fouettes of Olga Supphozova/Robert Carter.

Program-opener "Swan Lake" showed off Svetlana Lofatkina/Gallego's liquid shoulder carriage in flapping wing segments. Yurika Sakitumi/Hiroto Natori performed admirably in the tricky pas de quatre, and in 'Don Q.' Natori is one of a number of men who seem to need less makeup to portray a convincing female, blurring (for better or worse) the gender demarcation that makes the sight gags so successful.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo continues at the Joyce Theater through August 24. For more information, please visit the Joyce web site.

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