As a seasoned hack and a theatre critic my friends and colleagues will tell you it takes a lot to make me laugh out loud when watching a performance – in fact I can count the times on one hand in the last few years, despite reviewing literally 100’s of shows, that this has happened.

But even before the actual performance by Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo had began I found myself actually laughing out loud at the pre-show announcements.

As a ballet lover and having had some classical ballet training I have been fortunate to have seen some of the greatest dancers and most prestigious companies perform world wide as well as small  past-their-sell-by date companies and very basic budget touring companies.

I was only three when my mother took me to The Grand in Leeds (paying nearly a weeks wage for our seats) to see Alicia Markova and Anton Dolan dance – I was spellbound and it started a love of the art for me and inspired me to have some classical training although by the age of 8 I decided I wanted to be a journalist as I loved writing and adventure!

For years I had been promising myself I must see ‘The Trocks’ as they are called but something job related always got in the way but on their first visit for four years my wish was granted.

The Trocks originated in a New York Loft in 1974 and have now appeared in 35 countries and over 600 cities including seasons at the Bolshoi Theatre  in Moscow and the Chatelet Theatre in Paris. There have been documentaries made about them and they have gathered numerous awards including the prestigious Critics Circle National Dance Awards in 2007.

The original concept of the Trocks has never changed. It is a company of professional male dancers of every shape, size and colour performing as women.

They perform a repertoire of classical ballet and modern dance works. The comedy aspect is achieved by being glorious and giddy and incorporating all the short-comings, accidents and inconsistencies of classical dance styles plus some caricatures of dancers from prima ballerinas to the humble corps de ballet..

Starting the performance, as the majority of classical ballet performances, do we hear a number of cast changes and this is where my face cracks and I begin to laugh as artists names like  Minie Van  Driver,  Jacques d’ Aniels, Vavara  Laptopova and Timor Legupski are reeled off – I know I am going to enjoy this.

The first ballet of the Bradford repertoire was Swan Lake Act 2. This was an outstanding piece but to see it danced so technically well was a piece of theatrical brilliance.

It’s hard for men to perform on point as their feet are long and this puts added pressure on their bodies. The entrance of Von Rothbert I found particularly humorous as he did the usual leaps and then stopped to catch his breath and carried on. This for me was a touch of subtle brilliance as this role is usually played by an older dancer in most companies now specialising in character dancing

And so it continued with exceptional pas-de-deuxs between Siegfried and his Princess full of pirouettes, lifts, excellent elevation and holds all true to classical dance styles of the piece and  topped off with a fantastic dance of the cygnets – a faithful nod in choreography to the classical version.

I was transfixed. The rest of the programme including A Vivaldi Suite, The Dying Swan and a specially created piece in the classical mode Raymonda’s Wedding was filled with exceptional dancing and high technical standards.. The dances are all pure gold  each laced with a subtle humour, wonderful facial expressions and subtle humour that reduce the audience to laughter.

The Trocks are on a tour of the UK which is sadly nearly at an end with only Edinburgh, Belfast and Cornwall to go over the next couple of weeks. But they will be back and now’s the time to keep an eye out for when to see this amazing piece of theatre.

Liz Coggins is a member of the Critics Circle

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