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The TROCKS: A Gender Bending Introduction to the Performing Arts World

June 3, 2013
Credit: Sascha Vaughn

Credit: Sascha Vaughn

Surrounded by theater fanatics, ballet lovers and Meany Hall regulars, my friend Anna and I were first-time goers to the Les Trockederos de Monte Carlo, a production held at the Meany Theater. “The TROCKS” was one of the many productions of the 2012-2013 season presented by the World Series to “fuel artistic discovery, [provide] life-long learning, and cultural exchange.” Saturday night was my introduction to the performing arts world through the Series and boy, am I hooked!
An internationally acclaimed dance production directed by Eugene McDougle, TROCKS, an “all-male drag ballet corps” has combined classical ballet, modern dance and comedy to prove that yes, men can dance en pointe without ending up face flat on the dance floor. Founded in 1974 by a group of ballet enthusiasts in New York, the purpose of this company was to “bring pleasure of dance to the widest possible audience.” Thirty-seven successful years later, the TROCKS went from performing in a small loft theater in Manhattan’s meat packing district to performing in famous venues all over the world.
Their performances seek to reach both those already knowledgeable about  a tours chaînés déboulés and pas de deux to those who don’t even know what Swan Lake is. The company hopes to encourage everyone, from all walks of life, to enjoy ballet. To connect with a wide array of people, the company utilizes exaggerated movements, “foibles and accidents,” and buff men dressed as swans or Victorian ladies to garner laughs. From big cities in the U.S.to Europe and especially Japan (where they are fondly admired and well recieved), the TROCKS have traveled all over to introduce a new flavor of the ballet world to everyone.
Credit: Sascha Vaughn

Credit: Sascha Vaughn

As a Gender, Women, Sexual Studies minor, I found the concept of the company to be a breath of fresh air. Already stigmatized in traditional companies, male ballet dancers are often deemed too feminine because of their art. The TROCKS play with those ridiculous gender stereotypes to create a comedic world where male dancers in tutus are the norm.
One of the most beautiful sequences in the show was the TROCKS’ interpretation of “The Dying Swan” scene from Swan Lake, one of the most famous solos in ballet, first choreographed by Michel Fokine for Anna Pavlova in 1905. The grace of the ballet dancer as he shed feathers from his tutu like gentle raindrops matched Tchaikovsky’s music beautifully. This was the dance that truly left me in awe. And it didn’t matter  one bit that the story was told by a man. Act after act, I was truly amazed by the beauty of this show.
Credit: Sascha Vaughn

Credit: Sascha Vaughn

The many intermissions gave me ample time to people watch: The man in front of us on an anniversary date with his wife of 35 years, the young couple next to us were just enjoying a cute Saturday date night, and the little girl dressed in her Sunday best to the right of us was enjoying the show in the company of her grandparents. Yet despite this diverse attendance, I noticed the audience was lacking in college students. Anna and I were among the few young adults in the audience to see this amazing performance–which is a shame. I suppose many don’t know about the UW student discount available for Meany Hall performances (twenty dollars well spent, in my opinion), but there’s also a lack of appreciation for the performing arts in my age range in general. I sincerely hope to see more people, especially in my age range, take advantage of the discount we have (who doesn’t love a nice deal?) for future shows. It makes me sad to know that I’ve already missed out on so many performances this season, but I’ve resolved  to enjoy all the great offerings the Meany Theater and UW World Series will bring next year. Will you be sitting next to me?
To check out shows and ticket availability for this, click here.
To peak at what the 2013-2014 season will bring, explore here.
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