Anastasia Volochkova, Sadler's Wells, 25th Sept
Trocks - Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo - Peacock Theatre, 26th Sept
There is something about tall blond beauties going on stage to dance - the legs that go on forever, the speedy, fearsome technique, the coolness that only seems to wind the audience up for more - yes the Trocks still know how to put on a good show I reckon.
The Trocks are of course a company of men who hilariously send up ballet and dance. From New York, they are now regular visitors to the UK and are loved by non-dance people as much as those in the know. Beneath the slapstick they are bloody good dancers who care, and that lifts the show a bunch more.
I don't tire of seeing them either. I've seen their Giselle act 2 a time or two before but it still gets me as one notices a few more loving details joyfully savaged rotten. But it's the Wilis that perhaps do most for me - seriously scary and it's abundantly obvious why they were jilted!
A major highlight of the opening programme is "I Wanted to Dance With You at the Cafe of Experience" their new piece of 'Pina Bausch' - the German contemporary choreographer of some repute. I can't say I know a lot about Bausch's work but the Trocks put on a marvellous piece of contemporary work that might well be hailed as great if danced by a conventional troupe. The silly repeated movements, the falling over, the angst and pain of it all. I was actually reminded of a piece or two of Matz Ek. It came off slightly less well than their parodies of ballet because people know less of more modern dance and, it has to be said, a fair lot of contemporary stuff parodies itself perfectly well...
The Trocks finished with Don Quixote complete with a rather tall, elderly Amour brandishing the smallest bow imaginable. Just one cameo of the many. Priceless dance entertainment and I look forward to seeing the second programme next week.
Seeing the real tall blonde beauty - Anastasia Volochkova - in her own show proved an interesting diversion, though I regret to say I rapidly tired of her participation in it.
On the positive side she is a stately and imposing ballerina of some technical accomplishment from the waist down. Her legs go on forever and she moves them fast. But that's about it - everything she danced seems just to be legs, legs, legs and more legs. The colour and quality of movement and emotion you might expect from a ballerina, let alone one who has her own show, was just absent.
However the Volochkova show was interesting for including an act from Irek Mukhamedov's recent Swan Lake for Polish National Ballet. It's his first full production and in his diary and interview with us it's clear he has taken a fresh view of it. We were treated to the ballroom scene where he has the princesses each lead out a national dance. They start with a solo and then draw in others at the party, so the very grand entrances of different ethnic troupes is replaced by something much more natural and I rather liked it. However some of the choreography appears to have been changed by/for Volochkova and some dancers were changed too at the last moment, so perhaps it's best not to judge too much. Promising I think.
But the best part of the night was the middle section and seeing some lesser-known Russian dancers. They might not be known but they made a very strong impression amidst the pretension. The 'find' was Denis Matvienko (Ukraine) who really went for it in the Le Corsaire pas de deux. I was reminded of a young Igor Zelensky for passion and technical trickery. I hope a company or two invited him to take class sometime. There was also a charming piece of Fokine - Rusian and Ludmila - featuring a garden full of cavorting lovelies - I know its non-pc but it's the best description I can come up with. Beautiful La Sylphide-like choreography that should be better known. Again it was the quality of the dancers that lifted the spirits and for once in the evening legs seemed to be in their proper place.
Overall I think the Trocks are truer to what ballet and dance is about than the over-indulged Volochkova. She has much to learn, and things to offer, but she really needs to tuck herself into a good company again and get on with it.