Les Ballets Trockadero more about fun than the forlorn

| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

Many popular ballets are tragic in subject, but that's not the takeaway from Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo.

“Come and have fun, that's my motto,” company artistic director Tory Dobrin says.

The all-male company is outrageous and funny, all the way to the dancers' stage names and program booklet bios.

“We try to offer a lot of different qualities to our programs — different kinds of comedy, music, costuming and lots of different kinds of personalities, so all the dancers get an opportunity to dance,” Dobrin says.

Pittsburgh Dance Council will present Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo on April 5 at the Byham Theater, Downtown.

“We started in 1974 in lower Manhattan, doing shows as a fun lark in the middle of the dance boom that occurred after all the Russians — Nureyev, Baryshnikov, Markova — came over almost 40 years ago,” Dobrin says. “We went from midnight shows in lower Manhattan to performing at the Bolshoi Theater (in Moscow) 30 years later. That's a pretty big distance.”

None of the original dancers are with the company anymore. Dobrin joined in 1980 and danced for 16 years.

“When I joined, I was told it was career-wrecker and ‘You're so silly,' ” he says. “Now, we're getting guys right out of the dance academies.”

The Trocks, as they are known, receive emails from dancers all over the world interested in auditioning. Applicants are notified of company classes in various locations. Then it's a matter of being in the right place at the right time to take a company class

“We have three criteria,” says Dobrin. “First is to be a good dancer, which you can tell right away. Second is to have a sense of humor, which you can see by how they react to others in class. Third, and most important, is to be a team player, which you can tell by good manners in class.”

The Dance Council program will start with Act II of “Swan Lake,” the first of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's three great ballets.

“Our opening ballet is always a white ballet, always our campiest,” says Dobrin. “We pull all the stops out. The characterizations are over-the-top dramatic to absurd proportions. That's how we get the comedy out of it.”

After the “Swan Lake,” the Trocks will mix it up stylistically.

The program will include “Go for Barocco,” performed to Johann Sebastian Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 3. It is a takeof f of the choreography of George Balanchine, who set many pieces by Bach.

The evening will conclude with “Pacqiuta,” the Trocks' homage to Marius Petipa, the 19th-century Russian choreographer who was ballet master at the St. Petersburg Imperial Theater from 1871 to 1903 and created the first “Swan Lake” and “The Nutcracker.”

“We dance with a lot of exaggeration of the Russian style in this ballet,” says Dobrin. “There are jokes, of course. The music by Ludwig Minkus is great ballet music, maybe not as great compositionally as Tchaikovsky, with lots of catchy tunes, with lots of good cheer.”

Mark Kanny is the dance critic for Trib total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7877 or mkanny@tribweb.com.

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