Classical Ballet is very prim and proper and of course, it takes a lot of athleticism from the dancers to be able to pirouette and jeté across the stage. The girls have it especially hard, having to do all that on pointe. We politely applaud when they do amazing lifts, as they come forward, breaking the fourth wall, taking their bows before jumping back into it. We secretly admire the boy’s beautiful butts, while the girls show legs for days reaching up to their dainty tutus. We go and see the classics of ballet every year, the Swan Lakes and Les Corsaires, and even though the choreography may change from production to production, we know exactly what to expect from the stories. Not much humour here though. Standing ovations have become standard when showing our appreciation for this exquisite art form.
Then along comes Men in Tutus, celebrating the absurdness of it all, poking fun at the conventions, sending up the choreography and generally having a blast with the whole thing! And let me tell you, it is one of the most entertaining shows you will see. It is funny as all hell, irreverent, yet spectacular in its attention to detail and the skill of the dancers.
Les Ballets Eloelle’s production of Men in Tutus is spectacular and hi-f#cken-larious!
The show opens with a Pas de Quatre, and the four “ballerinas” start the show on a high note, setting the tone for the rest of the evening. Laughs come quick and easy, as the “girls” vie for attention, get lost in the choreography, show off, upstage each other and generally create mayhem. All on pointe! Suddenly my admiration for ballerinas who spend most of their life in tippy toes goes up a notch!
This is followed by a spectacular Pas de Deux, with stunning choreography and amazing skill displayed by both dancers. And the lowest bows to each other you will ever see. They seemingly love showing off, flying across the stage, while the “prima” loves showing off her leg to a member of the audience!
One of the highlights of the evening for me was Go for Barocco, choreographed to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. The choreography was amazing and stood out in its look and feel, an amazing piece of work. Mixing classical ballet and contemporary dance, with a few twists, amazed the audience while having us in stitches at the same time.
Arguably the funniest piece of the night was the famous Dying Swan. I have never laughed so hard in a theatre ever before. That poor swan was losing her feathers at an incredible pace and died in true slapstick style. I adored it and had to be revived with a glass of wine during the interval.
We were then treated to Act 2 of Swan Lake. It was a send-up of note! Never once taking itself seriously, it poked fun at all the elements of classical ballet. The overplayed mime, the showing off of buttocks, the sheer madness of the Dance of the Little Swans, the eviler than evil Van Rothbard, it was all too much! Seeing the swans hiss at the bad guy, a ballerina running across the stage and hitting the proscenium arch, knocking herself out cold, all in all, there wasn’t a dull moment, with waves of laugh upon laugh washing across the audience. I don’t want to give away the end, but suffice to say the swan was properly shot down!
That the 15 dancers who hail from the USA, Spain, Argentina, Mexico, the Philippines, Australia, Colombia, the Isle of Wight and Japan were having the time of their life and enjoying the sh!t out of themselves was obvious. And don’t for a moment think this was a bunch of amateurs poking fun at their professional counterparts. Oh no, these are accomplished dancers, primas every one of them, from the short cute
round one to the impossibly tall one. Kudos to artistic director and lead dancer Victor Travino for delivering a true triumph. This is a show that will linger in the memory for years to come. The standing ovation and shouts of bravo were well deserved.
There are only three shows left on 20 and 21 April at Artscape in Cape Town, it would be a shame to miss it.