Saturday, May 19, 2012

Men In Pink Tights


Men In Pink Tights
Les Ballets Eloelle's
Canberra Theatre
4-5 May
Reviewed by Samara Purnell

Victor Trevino has a passion for ballet. He was told by his ballet company that he’d never be suitable for lead roles due to his petit stature, and that it may be in his best interest to find another career. So he donned a pair of pointe shoes and now entertains audiences all over the world in a slightly less “statuesque” demanding role as a prima ballerina. Joining him, hairy-pitted and all, the troupe from Les Ballets Eloelles primp, pout and pointe their way through Swan Lake, Le Corsaire and The Dying Swan to name a few.
Von Rothbart whirls onto the stage, immediately stepping in swan poo, as the offending swans krump, fist pump and encourage the audience to applaud. Hunted by the most depressive sad-sack to step on stage, the swans remain true to much of the traditional choreography. But they inject their own personalities and quirks and of course humourous twists. The cygnet dance was no mean feat coordinating, then intentionally uncoordinating, four men of drastically differing height. A butt-clenching Prince Siegfried, danced by Mauricio Canete received shrieks of laughter with the unexpected presentation of his tightly clad bottom in a directionally-challenged forward bend as he bowed repeatedly to the audience and sent-up the posturing and balletic walk of male dancers. One could say he had a decent crack at the role, one of only a few male roles for the night. This included partnering and lifting work – of another man, Joel Morris, or Margot Funtyme as she is known on stage. Morris was a lovely Odette – pretty, vulnerable as well as a very proficient dancer with just the right mix of comedy and subtlety in the performance. For anyone not in the know, it was not blindingly obvious that this swan was more of a cob…
The swans on stage were only slightly more rowdy than some of the vocally appreciative ducks in the audience!
The funniest solo of the evening was from Nina Minimaximova (Trevino) as “The Dying Swan”. Batting the longest eyelashes know to man (literally), he sheds what seems to be an endless trail of feathers from a costume so overblown it’s a wonder he could move around at all. Trevino’s take on Anna Pavlova’s signature piece included pelvic thrusts and such violent flapping it seemed he might cough up a fur ball. His absolute refusal to actually die ended – eventually - when an unseen stagehand dragged him under the curtain after incessant bowing. While running the risk of “trying too hard” and missing the mark, this was actually very entertaining, made so by the fact that Trevino is a very good dancer with an incredible pointe. This rendition will no doubt leave Anna Pavlova turning in her grave.
Japanese-born Philip Joseph Sicat was a standout both in his dancing and also his appeal. His delicate features and ultra-slim frame lent itself perfectly to this type of show. His technique stood out and I found my eye often drawn to him. As the jocular program states: Winner of the Miss Congeniality award at the National Miss Junior Cabbage Pageant, “Elsie Irkland’s” performances have been hailed by the press as “adequate”.
Trevino might be doing for the ballet world what Andrej Pejic is doing for the modelling world, but one of the biggest cheers still erupted when Randy Herrera performed the male solos from Le Corsaire. The strength and athleticism demanded by the choreography was executed superbly. The fan dance from Don Quixote was also very impressive and was danced daintily and precisely.
This troupe may cater for men who don’t fit the typical requirements of leading male dancers, but to counterbalance the comedy, ensuring the “serious” choreography is spot-on and the standard of dancing across the board is on par with other professional companies would have been more impressive. One of the biggest downfalls of the show was that precision and attention to detail were lacking. A production such as this, by its nature, gives some lee-way to being flippant, but in parts, the timing was horribly out. Legs could have been a little straighter, extensions held for longer and landings more convincingly stuck. A couple of the dancers seemed less competent than others and toning down a couple of things on the make-up and pouting front (for some) would be good to see. There was a noticeable difference in the flexibility between some of these swans and swans of the female variety.
I went to the theatre a little worried Men In Pink Tights would be passé, slap-stick or un-funny, and I left pleasantly surprised. It was an enjoyable show with some really good dancing, very funny moments and a most enthusiastic audience. When men look great in tights and tutus, with toned arms and slim hips and identical physiques from the neck to the waist as most female ballerinas it leaves me wondering…is anything purely a woman’s domain anymore??

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