CLASSICAL BALLET PARODY LES BALLETS TROCKADERO DE MONTE CARLO
Edinburgh Festival Theatre, Thu 8-Sat 10 Nov.
Call me corny. but seeing Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo again is like meeting up with old friends of whom you've grown very. very fond. Based in New York City. this troupe of gleeful American rib- ticklers has been going strong for about 25 years. staging send-ups of mostly classical dance. The thing is. all the female roles are played — broadly. yet with genuine artistry — by men. You might think. ‘No. no. the joke can't last.’ But it works. every time. Why? Basically because they love what they do and. what's more. they know how to do it well. No faffing around with the academic language. these guys know the steps. They take class with a real-live. highly-disciplined ballet mistress. They actually dance en pointe (this is one reason the Japanese. sticklers for Western ballet tradition. are such avid fans. The die-hards even collect company members' worn-out pointe shoes).
For several seasons the Trocks. as they are affectionately known. have been making regular visits to the UK. This time they're bringing over a few pieces new to Britain. Consider the QOrgeously-titled / Wanted to Dance With You at the Cafe of Experience. their tango-laden parody of Pina Bausch's punitive brand of dance-theatre. Sure, familiarity with the German diva's oeuvre will enhance your pleasure. But the Trocks are such accomplished comedians that even Bausch know- nothings should get a kick out of this wonderful little exercise in grim vigour. Tango aside. it also features a tonured conga line and plenty of faux joyful or plain
mock-miserable jiggling and jogging. The cast is divided into ‘those who wanted to dance' and those who didn't.
Usually. however. the company indulges its 19th century sensibility with a zest that can put more sober. self-serving ballet practitioners to shame. In Edinburgh the roster includes Les Sy/phides; dating from 1909 and set in a moon-drenched. lakeside glen to the music of Chopin. this was the first plotless ballet. The Trocks turn it into a rich serving
CONTEMPORARY DANCE MARK MORRIS DANCE GROUP Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 9 & 10 Nov .0.”
Faster than a speeding Morris
Mr Morris and music have always been comfortable bedfellows. And his appreciation. understanding and interpretation of the classmal genre has typified his choreography for years. Which goes some way to explaining why the MMDG performances are ‘events' rather than mere evenings of dance. A whole musical entourage has accompanied Morris on his UK tour, including tenors Philip Anderson and Michael Brown and soprano Eileen Clark. who provide the stunning vocals for / Don 't Want To Love. Set to a series of Monteverdi's madrigals. the piece finds seven angelic dancers running the gamut of emotion from confrontational anger to joyful abandonment. Poetic and easy on the eye. it breaks us gently into the evening. warming us up for the wonderful Dancing Honeymoon. a priceless gem of a work which
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would force a smile onto the stoniest of faces. Clark returns. this time perched on the edge of the stage. working her way through fifteen music hall classics from the 208 and 305. Morris joins his dancers (minus his trademark locks and carrying a few extra pounds. but as enigmatic and charming as ever) and with tongues firmly in cheeks. they affectionately act out the song lyrics. hamming it up to hilarious effect.
By contrast. The Office sends a chill around the room as a group of ordinary civilians sit in an atmosphere of eerie oppression. Dressed in everyday garb. the six characters await the arrival of a clipboard-wielding official. performing ever- exuberant and defiant folk dances. One by one their numbers dwindle as they are led off to who knows where. until finally one solitary dancer is forced to sit alone. The curtain falls and the performers fail to return to the stage to reap their applause — like the characters they played. they are gone from us forever. The Edinburgh programme closed with Morris‘ latest work. V. a piece which, sadly. Glasgow audiences won't see. A work of sumptuous symmetry set to the music of Schumann. this is Morris'genius at its best; utilising fourteen dancers in ever-changing dynamics and proving that the former enfant terrible of the dance world has grown into a distinguished master craftsman. (Kelly Apter)
CONTEMPORARY DANCE SCOTTISH DANCE THEATRE GilmorehillG12, Fri 2 & Sat 3 Nov 0000
A mix of new talent and seasoned professionalism constitute Scottish Dance Theatre's autumn programme. Sean Feldman may have danced with the likes of Rambert and Siobhan Davies for over a decade. but this is his first tour as a choreographer. Conversely. artistic director Janet Smith has many a fine work under her belt. but just as SDT continue to flourish. so too does her choreography. As a double-bill. Feldman's Inside Somewhere and Smith's High
Keep on Trockin’
of gossamer Romanticism. The bill also includes an excerpt from La Vivandiere; first presented in 1844. it's a pretty-in-pink piece of frou-frou. ripe and ready for the Trocks' touch. As the programme notes say: 'the ballet is set in a little village in Hungary where Kathi, a camp follower. loves Hans. the son of a tavern keeper'. Camp? You bet! But. again. backed by knowledge. respect for tradition and real flair. And I haven't even mentioned the dancers' onstage names . . . (Donald Hutera)
Land work well together; the former infused with a calm. dreamlike quality.
juxtaposing nicely with the latter's energetic humour.
Feldman found inspiration in the work of 20th century Russian painter. Chagall. an influence which manifests itself in a variety of ways. Dancers float across the stage like a brush on canvas. the autumnal hues of their linen costumes creating a rich human palette. Chagall's fondness for the circus is translated into playful clowning. with wheels and boots spinning above heads and the odd spot of tumbling. But there is a darker side to Feldman's work and a change in music halfway signals a shift in emphasis. Movements become more frantic. the atmosphere more sinister and the overall feel much more exciting.
By contrast. Smith looked closer to home for her motivation. Having moved to Scotland five years ago. her take on the country's many idiosyncrasies has both the respect and admiration of an outsider and the wry irony of a native. The Loch Ness Monster. interminable midges. bagpipes. step dancing, the Clearances. raucous ceilidhs. the stark beauty of the Highlands — this is Scotland by numbers. set to dynamic movement and a beautiful score by dance regular Christopher Benstead. Smith's blend of pathos and humour is spot on. her love for the country infectious and her ability to assemble a programme perfectly suited to her dancers very much intact. (Kelly Apter)