Apart from it being a mode of expession of emotion and sentiment, dance can also serve as a platform for expression of gender, that marked identity that we think is unchangeable. From the day we are born, or even much earlier than that, our sex and gender our socially defined. What we (should) wear, how we (must) walk, the amount of space we occupy in our everyday life is largely defined by the role of gender in society. In the dance context such observations become quite evident from the posture our bodies take, our facial expressions, and the costumes we wear.
Today is the 1st of May 2015 and it is 20.40 p.m. I am with my sister at the Lava, Laboratory of Arts of Valladolid, my city. The spectacle should have started fifteen minutes ago. The public has already been sat, however few people were still standing and talking audibly. This situation seems to me a little bit strange, as it’s the first performance-spectacle I attend in Spain since I came back home from Choreomundus Master last July.
I had already forgotten that people could behave that way in a theatre. So I made an effort to understand the behaviour of people who decided not to sit down until the dancers were on stage, or those who arrived fifteen minutes late and opened the door of the room without any problem, or that woman who had not turned off her mobile phone... So, thinking that these people were part of the show was my way of not being angry. In fact I could not stop laughing. I don´t know what exactly generated my laughter, maybe it was because the show had started 15 minutes late like in a rock concert, or because of those people who kept talking aloud, even in the dark, or, because I had the bad luck of being sat behind a woman with a big bun in her head (as an advise, I would suggest don´t go with extravagant and big hairstyles when you go to a spectacle like that, because those who are behind you may have to move their heads all the time in an attempt to see all what is on stage. It was my case, and I almost ended up with torticollis!).
To close this informal introduction of a personal experience, I consider this a really nice evening despite this peculiar pre-start.
For those who do not know about “Les Ballets Du Trockadero de Monte Carlo”, and in order to contextualize this experience, I will quote a passage from the theatre introduction of this Dance Company, information I could glance at in those fifteen minutes of delay.
Les ballets Trockadero de Montecarlo was founded in 1974 in the United States by a group of ballet enthusiasts for the purpose of parody the traditional forms of ballet. The original concept of Les Ballets de Monte Carlo Trockadero REMAINS AS is in its infancy: professional dancers company specialized in the range of classic style and original Russian repertoire. Its originality and enthusiasm led them to participate in various international festivals in Holland, Madrid, New York, Paris, Turin and Vienna. He has received awards among them the Excellence in Dance (Theatrica Management Award), award for its Repertoire given by Coalition of Critics of Dance of London (Dance Critics Award) and Positano Award (Positano, Italy).
Lava, Laboratorio de las Artes de Valladolid, Libreto de Mano 2014/2015)
I have to confess I have always wanted to see Les Ballets de Trockadero, but I have never had the chance to do so. When I knew they were coming to my city, a small city well known for the theatre, cinema, zarzuelas, and where dance is starting to be little by little more important, I ran to buy the tickets.
The spectacle we were going to see that night was divided in four parts: The Swam Lake, Don Quijote (Pas de Deux), Go for Baroque and Paquita and ... Shh, …ok, I will stop speaking, the Spectacle it about to start!
Suddenly the lights switched off and a woman's voiceover began introducing the Company. It was part of the performance, a really funny point of start with, full of jokes that showed that the whole performance would be full of humour, dance, and a different perspective of the classical dance seen with male bodies.
When the voice stopped talking the curtain rose and a man in black with point shoes, with a really interesting brown dishevelled wig started dancing. Then this picturesque character dragged a plastic swan that had sunglasses and was on four wheels and immediately disappeared, giving way to the white swan, her prince and the rest of the ballet representing the flock of swans. No doubt a very original way to begin the performance. The rest of the “Ballerinas" started to appear like classical ballerinas on their points, white tutús and with a lot of makeup and really muscular bodies. Exaggerated grimace, sometimes the dance moves were more like funk than classical. Some dancers were not following the same steps of their companions calling public attention... but overall keeping the idea of the story of the Swan lake.
It was a pure parody of Swan Lake but with a strong and solid foundation of dance controlled under so much comedy. The scenery was well-studied, costumes were very faithful to the original, the repertoire was well-chosen for all audiences and dynamic.
The second part was a pas de deux from "Don Quijote" ballet. The duo had a lot of Spanish essence. One dancer was wearing the traditional Cordovan black suit trousers, white shirt and red sash, and the partner was in a black and red tutu and an elegant Spanish hairstyle with a curl on her face. The complicity of the couple was remarkable, their movements were graceful and in accordance to the music, and they had made an excellent use of space. Once again humorous winks filled the room. A duet well chosen for the city in which they were, Valladolid, city in which Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, had once lived.
´Go for Baroque` was the next Ballet. In this piece, six dancers accompanied by the music of Bach, in black maillots and wearing flowers in their hair provoked a mad laughter in the public by their movements, comic twists, falls to the ground, static figures, jumps and lots of hugs.
The peak of the performance was what is better than a French ballet style but with a Spanish theme, Paquita. This time the whole body of dancers appeared on stage with a scenery featuring a French classical theatre. Dancers were dressed in elegant tutus of different colours and blonde, brunette, redhead wigs. Some dancers wore glasses and maintained an exaggerated makeup. In this ballet, the corps de ballet, which certainly stood out for the great classical technique it showed, accompanied and gave way to Paquita, the protagonist. Paquita was the only dancer wearing a white tutu, a white wig, and was accompanied by the only male-dressed in the room. Paquita showed to be a strong dancer who did not need a man to shine. In this comic scene Paquita looked like an arrogant woman. The male dancer, tired of Paquita ignoring him, chooses to leave Pequita and to join the rest of the dancers.
Paquita was certainly a good way to end the big show. In this last performance dancers gave themselves up to the point that the main dancer lost the wig in a sequence of twenty fouettés!
Of course the comedy was present at Les Ballets Trockadero but I will say that it is an elegant comedy. It is not easy supporting the body of a muscular man on points shoes, and the fact that male roles-run all the weight of a man balancing on the balls of your feet and pretending to be a swan, sylph, romantic princess, water nymph Females victoriana- enhances rather than ridicules classical dance.
Surely, this show far exceeded the expectations I had of this company and I am very content to see that my town has introduced this type of shows.
From the facial expressions of the public and their comments outside the theater, everyone seemed pleased and amazed. A sample of those who had enjoyed these two and a half hours of uninterrupted show of laughter of dance.
Undoubtedly I can confirm what their handbook indicates, Les Ballets Trockadero transmit the pleasure and grace of dance through its repertory in their performances.
The performers' elegance but also their dancing mood, their care, expressions, the use of space, interpretation of each of the characters and each of the ballets represented through humour, plus the scenography, costumes, makeup, art and love for what they do, have made of this show a welcoming gift for all those who had the opportunity, like me, to watch it. It was definitely a really good dance show.
If you want to know more about Les Ballets Trockadero de Montecarlo here its web-page: http://trockadero.org/
Although the term “Heritage” seem to have gained an international understanding through the UNESCO conventions of World Cultural Heritage (1972) and Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003), the interpretation and implementation of the concept in relation to dance differs greatly among countries. The following notes are drawn upon observations I have made on the topic during a year spent in Clermont-Ferrand, France.
As in many other European countries, the folk dance revival project is found in France as well, especially in Brittany and Provence regions where the dance repertoire is revived and practiced today (Guilcher: 1998). In the dance domain a direct discourse on the notion of “heritage” doesn’t seem to be highly audible. Instead, there are manifestations that can be indirectly linked to the notions of revival and safeguarding of dance that usually accompany the intangible cultural heritage discourse. One of these manifestations could be observed in Frères Champion's work. Frères Champion are Bourrée (A traditional dance of the Auvergne region) dancers and musicians conducting performances and workshops in the region, which could evoke the idea of dance revival encountered in other European contexts. Nonetheless, the brothers Champion collaborated in 2011 with Sidi Graoui, a contemporary dancer and choreographer, in an exploratory contemporary piece entitled ‘Trois, un, deux, le labyrinthe des origines’. The collaboration revolved around the body's capacities, musicality, dialogue and expression.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in all posts are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the association or the MA program.