DIRECT from New York, as they say in showbiz, Les Ballets Eloelle’s male comedy ballet show, “Men in Pink Tights”, is about to seize the limelight in Canberra.
It should play into Australian audiences’ penchant for seeing blokes dress up, but artistic director Victor Trevino, speaking to “CityNews” from West Palm Beach, Florida, stresses that “Men in Pink Tights” is not a drag show but rather “a dance show that has a drag element”.
His artists, though heavily made and dressed up, are classically trained dancers and that is the focus of the show, he says.
“We’re doing choreography that you see in a normal company, our dancers are recognised for what they are and the dance tradition that they come from,” he says.
The successor to the company’s hit “Men In Tutus”, the show features solos, duets and ensemble pieces selected from its extensive repertoire, which includes at any time parts of “Spartacus”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Le Corsaire”, “Harlequinade”, “Swan Lake”, George Balanchine’s “Go For Barocco” and dozens more.
A send-up of ballet, it combines real ballet technique, temperamental outbursts, deliberately conceived mistakes performed by men who sometimes look like women and sometimes like men with pancake make-up but all danced to perfection.
Trevino, who danced with the all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (‘the Trocks’) for 10 years, says: “I’ve pretty much done all these big roles myself”. He’s also been Giselle, Aurora, Sugar Plum Fairy, Juliet and Carmen.
Now the artistic advisor for the New England Ballet and the performance co-ordinator and liaison for Palm Beach Atlantic University, Trevino says: “We are serious about dance, but we are also having fun with it”.
So how did he come up with the concept of men in tights? Inspired by the 1993 Mel Brooks movie “Robin Hood: Men in Tights”, he says he thought that people would respond to a parody of that title. And he was right.
“We’ve got a strong touring track record in Australia, NZ, the US, China and Europe and we have been very lucky,” he says.
“I’ve learnt a lot about comedy over the years, but I’ve also learnt how to express my own ideas… I wanted to stretch my dancers beyond the laughs and because I was producer and director, I was able to present it the way I wanted to.”
Regarding current gender perspectives he says: “I don’t discriminate, we have all kinds of people in the company and we’re multicultural.”
Among his dancers from 13 countries there is a Japanese dancer, married with two kids, playing the main female roles.
“I like to bring people of many backgrounds together, that’s truly the most important thing,” he says.
Above all, he says the show brings people from everywhere together who want to sit down and have a good laugh.
“But it’s different when it’s in pink,” he says.
“Men in Pink Tights”, Canberra Theatre, Wednesday, October 24.