Rebels On Pointe is a very affectionate profile by Canadian award-winning documentarian Bobbi Jo Hart on Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo an American all-male (and proudly openly gay) Ballet Company corps which parodies the conventions and clichés of romantic and classical ballet. Harte adopts a cinema vérité approach with her very entertaining film that takes us not just behind the scenes of the corps practicing and on stage during the performances, but also literally following them on the road touring the world.
First she covers their history which now spans an impressive 43 years having being formed in post-Stonewall N.Y. by giving late night cabaret performances in a loft in the meatpacking district. It’s current Artistic Director Tory Dobrin started as a dancer in 1980 with Company and is now looked on very much like a father figure to his very international coterie of young performers for whom he creates a safe and comfortable environment to work in. It is Dobrin who explains how the Trocks, as they are fondly referred too, strive to achieve the diversity that has always been missing from traditional ballet companies.
At first they were shunned by all the grant-giving foundations so have always had to run a very tight ship behind the scenes in order to survive even the toughest times. This included when the AIDS pandemic hit NY very hard and was Dobrin said ‘really really horrible for Company‘. In fact his own partner, another Trocks member, was one of the people they lost. Dobrin however maintains that the upside of surviving that period was that he sensed a real feeling of being freed up to lose any remaining inhibitions so that they could dance exactly as they really wanted too now.
Watching the current troupe perform, one cannot fail to be suitably impressed by both their very talent and prowess as they pirouette around the stage on pointe with the same elegance as any prima ballerina. Playing all the roles in each ballet makes it a little tough on the dancer playing the male role and having to lift a heavier than normal ballerina. Whilst they have can and do perform their ballets with such grace and precision, it is the humor and parody that they insert which wins them such faithful audiences who love the fact that they make these classics so much more accessible.
The dancers themselves are an utterly disarmingly charming group of men of different shapes and sizes and ages too, and like any collective of gay men that are literally together for so much of their day, they have bonded like a ‘logical’ family. So much so that by the time The Trocks celebrated their 40th Anniversary it now had three married gay couples in its company. It is their stories that add this delightful emotional to strand to the film that has you routing even more for the continued success of the Company.
Strangely enough the stand-out oddity of the movie was the presence of an overly-earnest Scottish Dance Critic with her pronouncements about the Trocks and the state of ballet in general. These were atypical from the type of commentator who rather pompously and rather patronizingly tries so hard to intellectualize art, that it unintentionally comes over as being quite hilarious.
In the history of the burgeoning LGBT community, The Trocks have deservedly become one of it’s founding institutions, and it is obvious from this compelling documentary that the reason they are so revered is because not only do they look so hot in tutus and perform like devilish angels, but because of all their irresistible passion for dance and life in general that comes across the footlights, and when they are off-stage too.