You know Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo as the men who parody your favorite ballet variations—and make it look good. But there's more to the iconic troupe than meets the eye.
A new documentary, Rebels on Pointe, goes behind the scenes of the company, and it's full of juicy tidbits about what it's like to be a Trock. These were some of our favorite moments:
1. When James Whiteside completely fangirled
If the Trocks had a fan club, American Ballet Theatre principal James Whiteside would probably be the president. "I just don't understand how they do it," he says in the documentary. "And how they do it so well." He also talks about what the company means to him as a gay man, adding: "In every single role I am playing counter to my nature. That's tiring sometimes. Every once in a while I get to dance with a dude, and it's super-hot."
2. When we got an inside look at their shoe fitting
If we had to guess the most asked question about the Trocks, we would say it's "Where do they get their shoes?" Now we have an answer: Gaynor Minden makes shoes big enough for most of the Trocks. But even they don't make shoes wide enough for a few of the dancers (and now we're left to wonder who's cornered that market).
3. When dancer Raffaele Morra taught the Dying Swan variation to the most enthusiastic senior citizens
While on tour in Scotland, Morra taught a master class to some local seniors. And they came prepared: Some even dressed to the nines in outfits (and makeup) clearly inspired by the Trocks. They had just as much commitment to the choreography, tackling the Trocks' signature burned-out-diva-swan character with sass.
4. When we learned about the history of the Trocks
Artistic director Tory Dobrin explains how the company was modeled after old-school Russian touring companies, which is where the group derives the clever pseudonyms the dancers use (like Lariska Dumbchenko and Nina Immobilashvili). But Dobrin also talks about the company's relationship to LGBT history, how they formed in the late '70s during the gay rights movement and, shortly thereafter, lost many of their dancers to the AIDS crisis. Today, they honor this history by wearing red ribbons on their Go For Barocco costumes, and doing outreach work at LGBT centers.
5. When Chase Johnsey spilled the secret to how the Trocks captivate audiences
The Trocks are known for being experts at skirting the line between the serious and the ridiculous. The effect is what makes the company so irresistible to watch. In the documentary, dancer Chase Johnsey says something that encapsulates the Trocks' magic: "I like to do pretty makeup. Because then I feel like the audience thinks I look pretty and they buy into it. And just when they do that, I break it. I just throw it out the window." Who knew that breaking ballet's conventions starts with a bit (okay, a lot) of makeup?