For more than 40 years, the all-male comedy ballet company Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo - affectionately known as The Trocks - have been delighting audiences of all ages at sell-out performances around the world.
Established in New York, the Trocks are loved for their sassy spoofs and tongue-in-cheek homage to classical ballet, as the 18 dancers combine tutus and testosterone.
I recently caught up with dancer Robert Carter – who has been with the company for 23 years - for a behind-the-scenes look at life in the Trocks.
What led you to auditioning to join The Trocks?
I began training in ballet at an early age, and was fascinated with pointe shoes. My teacher at the time encouraged my enthusiasm, and then I saw the company shortly after. From then on, it was my mission to one day become a part of the company.
For someone who hasn’t seen The Trocks before, how would you describe the style of dance that The Trocks deliver?
The style of dance that we deliver is not much different than what you would expect from a standard ballet company, just with a kick.
How technically difficult is it to perform the pieces tackled by The Trocks?
The technique required is one of constant progression, as you’d have in any profession. Personally, my focus gears more towards polish and finesse. As men, we have the strength and power to do most of the choreography, but I find that being able to harness that power and refine whatever it is that I’m dancing is what I really like to work on most.
Why do you think The Trocks seem to have such universal appeal?
Dance is generally a silent art, but is something present in almost every culture. So many emotions and messages can be transferred through movement without speaking a word. While we honour dance and the personalities of the past, we add humour. As the old adage says, laughter is the best medicine.
Is performing as part of The Trocks a form of drag?
Definitely. Our use of drag is that it’s an element of our performance, but not the sole reason. We use drag to express the different personas we’ve created, to bring to life the many characters of the ballets we perform.
The Trocks seem to have a gruelling touring schedule. In which country do you feel that audiences respond most warmly to The Trocks?
I’d be hard-pressed to single out one particular country that responds most warmly, but the audiences in the UK are definitely at the top of the list.
What have been some of your career highlights since joining The Trocks?
There have been so many over the many years that I’ve danced with The Trocks, but I’ll name three.
The first was meeting Maya Plitsetskaya at a gala performance in Palermo, Sicily where she was cheering for us on the side of the stage as we danced.
The second was performing on the original Bolshoi stage.
The third would have to be meeting Princess Caroline of Monaco, when we performed at the centennial celebration of the Diaghilev Festival.