"This is a great show for somebody who’s never been to a dance show... this is the best one to start with because it’s so easy to understand."
The clue is in the name. Les Ballets Eloelle (get it?) certainly features plenty of makeup and tutus and pirouettes galore, but this is not your average night at the ballet – far from it. With a cast that includes nothing but men, all of the female roles – and costumes, for that matter – are filled by gents. As the dance company brings its world premiere production of Men In Pink Tights to Australia, with it comes an evening of dance, fun and no shortage of laughs.
“The show combines comedy and dance, using an entirely all-male troupe,” explains the show's artistic director Vincent Trevino, who also performs in the production. “We take classical and contemporary dance and we make parodies of them.”
The group put their trademark cheeky spin on some of the world's best-known ballets, and they're currently working through a marathon 75-show tour of Australia. “We've already done about 27 shows, so we're hitting pretty much everywhere – big and small cities all around the country.”
Before arriving down under, Eloelle's international cast of dancers also hit everywhere from Japan to France. “The reaction is a little different in places, but it's also been surprising. In Korea, for instance, people were so excited they just about jumped on stage, whereas in China they were a lot more reserved, so you just never know how people are going to respond. Luckily, language is not a barrier as the comedy's all physical, but overall most of the Western countries react pretty similarly – everyone has a good laugh and just really enjoys the show.”
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Before founding Les Ballets Eloelle, Trevino, who is a classically trained dancer, performed with well-known comedy troupe Les Ballets Trockadero and later formed the phenomenally successful Les Ballets Grandiva, which toured for some 13 years.
So what makes these comedy troupes so popular? “Well it's unusual to see men dancing on their toes. It's very funny and it makes dance accessible to people who have probably never gone to see it before. But also for people who are really interested in classical dance, they're able to go and see something that they love done in a very different way.”
Whether you're a stranger to the ballet theatre or something of a dance aficionado, Trevino assures visitors there's something in the show for everyone. “If you're more familiar with classical dance, you're going to appreciate it differently but it's not necessary to have a background in ballet. Since everyone performing is formally trained, there's still a lot of wonderful dancing on stage, and the audience is able to see something that they've grown to love and they're able to laugh – so it's seeing something familiar in a different light.”
That said, newcomers to ballet will not be disappointed. Sure, you're guaranteed to see plenty of elegant dance routines, but it's the comedy that takes centre stage. “This is a great show for somebody who's never been to a dance show before. If you have been thinking of going to a dance show, this is the best one to start with because it's so easy to understand.
“The whole point of what we do is to make it easy to follow without needing any explanation of what you're seeing. I think that's what makes this show so successful, that they're able to sit down and just enjoy it for what it is.”
Men In Pink Tights is touring nationally until 7 July