Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Those rebellious Trocks, now on film!

(2017, 90 minutes)

A film by Bobbi Jo Hart

An Icarus Films Release

This month, Icarus Films and director Bobbi Jo Hart will celebrate the US theatrical release of Hart's Rebels on Pointe, the first documentary devoted to the all-male Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. For more than four decades, the New York-based Trocks have strapped on pointe shoes, delighting world-wide audiences with irreverent, accessible interpretations of ballet's classics. While the gender-bending is all in fun, their dancing also demonstrates serious technical capability and attention to detail.Artistic director Tory Dobrin sees no reason, he says, to choose between joke or no joke. The Trocks, says ABT's James Whiteside, an ardent admirer, strike "an incredible balance between high art and clever camp."

Generous with samples of the troupe on stage, Hart's film is also lavish with clips of interviews with and about the dancers. We come to appreciate their work ethic, their drive to perform and the joys and challenges of day-to-day life within and outside of dance.

I only wish Hart had delved a little deeper, seizing an opportunity to contextualize the Trocks's achievements. Dance fans can now explore an exciting landscape in which openly queer, trans and gender non-conforming artists expand how we see, read and respond to dance, both classical and contemporary. It would have been interesting to hear from out-lesbian dance artist and educator Katy Pyle whose Ballez--a philosophy, practice and company--is designed to re-write "the narratives of Story Ballets to tell the history of our lineage, as dancers, and as queers" and re-imagine "Archetypal characters to reflect multiplicity: of identity, desire and expression." And Pyle is only one of many artists upending conventional roles and affirming more gender fluidity in dance today.

Rebels on Pointe leans more personal than political, though, of course, these things glide along a spectrum. It's more of a glance behind the scenes and the dressing room door but, if you love people, love dancers, love the Trocks, that might be enough.

See Rebels on Pointe 
in the following theaters:

New York City: opening November 15 at Quad Cinema

Los Angeles: opening November 24 at Laemmle Music Hall

Chicago: opening November 24 at Gene Siskel Film Center

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