Article Title:Review: Les Ballets Grandiva's 'Men in Tutus'
Category:Performance
Author or Credit:Larry Jenkins
Published on:18th November 2007 - 04:40 pm
Published by:GayNZ.com
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Story ID:5255
Text:Les Ballets Grandiva's 'Men in Tutus' Founder/Artistic Director: Victor Trevino Performed at the Aotea Centre, Auckland One sure way to get laughs is to send up "high" art. Victor Trevino, the founder and artistic director of Les Ballets Grandiva thus follows on in the wake of countless art clowns who've entertained audiences worldwide by shamelessly cocking a snook at an iconic artform – in this instance, classical ballet. Men in Tutus is one of the most entertaining and amusing events I've sat through in a theatre for a very long time. The near-capacity audience in the Aotea Theatre on Saturday, 17 November thought so too. The evening was punctuated with gales of laughter, copious and frequent applause and rhythmic clapping accompanying the finale, giving the performers a boost in thanks for their hard work. And hard work it must be to give the impression, through all that buffoonery, that if someone cracked a whip and yelled "Clean it up, girls!" they could all do the dances "straight." That's real art. No matter how intentionally funny the all-male dancers were being, they never left one feeling that anything had been clumsily done – every movement was elegant, even the inelegant ones. In Swan Lake, Act II – which began the programme and perhaps should have ended it instead, so unstintingly hilarious it was – there were masterstrokes of comedy, not the least of which came from the ostensibly 'straight' member of the cast, guest performer Remi Wortmeyer of the Australian Ballet as Prince Siegfried. By far the most imposing of the 'boy' dancers in the company, he fully entered into the spirit of things, camping it up with the magnificently awkward swans in the "corp de ballet" and with Trevino as Odette. The supreme clown, though, turned out to be diminutive 'Heather Sowatt' aka Richard Isaac, first appearing as the foil for Wortmeyer's Prince, later showing enormous comic flair as the longsuffering partner of Trevino (whose ballerina persona 'Nina Maximaximova' appeared in solo roles throughout the evening) in the opening ensemble of Minkus Gala, after which his solos brought down the house. Victor Trevino's imitation of the great Pavlova's Dying Swan is an imitation in name only, for it is so full of originality and hysterical parody that Pavlova might not even twig that she's the butt of the joke. Mme Maximaximova's flapping was so over the top that her arms almost became disconnected, and her control of the amplitude of the movement produced incredulous gasps. The least successful segment from a comic standpoint, probably due to the fact that the camp-ness is a bit overdone to atone for the seriousness of the piece, is Le Grand Pas de Quatre, Trevino's take on a vehicle for four great ballerinas of the 19th century – Grisi, Taglioni, Cerito and Grahn, of whom only Grisi is widely remembered today. Taglioni should perhaps become the patron goddess of Men in Tutus as she is credited with being the first ballerina to dance 'en pointe'. The four modern 'ballerinas' aren't identifiable, as the audience was not provided with cast lists, a significant oversight, particularly from a reviewer's standpoint. The aforementioned Minkus Gala ended the performance with all the panache for which classical ballet is known - big ensembles, virtuosic solos, spectacular lifts, etc., and the company rose to every challenge whilst keeping us laughing. It'll take a long time for the memory to fade and for anyone who was there to be able to face a serious ballet company with a straight face. Don't miss Men in Tutus when it comes to your town. Larry Jenkins - 18th November 2007    
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