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Ballet Eleolle, Klein Auditorium, Bridgeport, CT - Oct 9, 2011

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When I was young, I was just aghast at the thought of such a company... until I finally saw a live performance... [Of course, this was back in the Dark Ages as I tend to think of the world pre-YouTube... ] Today's youth have so much more at their fingertips.

As familiar as these artists may be on the flat screen, to see them live has it's own enchantment...(after all, in such a case Wei Bling Bling might indeed be batting her prodigious eyelashes directly at you!)

Some of the gags amusing to the casual balletomane ring as inside jokes for dancers familiar with the demands of the choreography the Ballerinas are so aptly referencing. No novice has ever attempted cygnets without knowing just what these birds are getting at.

In Swan Lake, they all wear Tiaras, but none can quite compete with Odette's for sheer magnitude. Nina Naananananaananiashvili may have bowed off the stage previously, but never with more charm. Would that every aspiring ballerina would come study the stars of Les Ballets Eloelle, for their charm is transcendent...before long one has suspended disbelief and these are not men in tights but cameos of great personalities of the stage and studio... And where exactly was the limen passed where they ceased to be men and instead enthralled the audience as divas?... . The ballerinas of Ballet Eloelle have located the well... Perhaps to the point of being tipsy... But as a lesson in charm, they are not to be missed.

Where comedians of the non dance world's lame attempts at parody fall flat, Ballet Eloelle's goofs crack theirs with the aplomb of the connoisseur.

Nina Naanananaananiashvili (Victor Trevino); Wendy Raven (Ari' Mayzick); Cookie Crum (Oswaldo Muniz); Sylvie Gruyere (Jace Coronado); Alina Coakvilvilduju (Jonathan Mendez); Wei Bling Bling (Wilson Li); Marianella Mororlas (Walter Battistini) and Tamara Chilirojo (Alexis O'Farrill) brought new life to the classics... (if one takes the program credits as word).

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(I've been trying to get to this post for a couple of days, but life got lifelike)

I saw a lot of the Trocks back when Peter Anastos was making work for them, and they were excellent at walking the line between parody and exaggeration. Like Tharp, the comedy was on several levels, so that you might be laughing at a reference to a particular choreographic quirk and the person sitting next to you was just as amused at the sight of men in tutus. Their satires on existing rep (I particularly loved the Petipa and Fokine parodies) were dead on, making references to both the choreographers foibles (the ballerina stalking to dead center stage for a vertiginous series of turns, and the eternally wandering sylphs) and to the performance conventions of the ballet tradition. And his versions of Balanchine and Robbins (I'm thinking of Go for Barocco and Yes Virginia) showed us something essential and valuable about those two bodies of work. Anastos understood something really powerful about humor -- in order to make a really successful parody, you not only have to understand the work you're skewing, you really do need to love it.

But one of my favorite experiences with the Trocks, and I think probably the most essential, was watching their version of (I think it was) Raymonda -- I cannot remember who was dancing the lead ballerina role, but as he/she walked out of the wings to start the variation I thought "that's Eleanor d'Antuono." It wasn't a humorous moment -- it was more like the Japanese onnagata -- a man playing a woman's part and paring it down to the essential 'female-ness' of the role.

We don't have too many people making actual comedy about ballet -- Myra Kinch (I think -- I don't have time to look this up) used to do a parlor-sized piece called Giselle's Revenge. She made it at Jacob's Pillow, I think, and it toured around, but didn't last past her career.

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Yes, there were times where a caricature seemed very familiar but I couldn't put my finger on who it was... and wished I had a guide to tell me who it was... There were times I thought I was seeing Maria Tallchief, but thought the dancers were too young to be channeling her... Peter Anastos was thanked in the program, by the way.

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I suspect the Trocks were once much inspired by some of the artists in Ballet Eloelle. The director was once a major Trock if I remember. There was a huge rift between the management of the Trocks and their dancers about a decade or so ago, and there was a splinter group called Grandivas. I believe there were artists on stage that had been in all three companies, but without the bios I cnnot say for sure.

I was wishing I had subcaptioned this thread "Ballet: Elle! Oh, Elle!"

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