Sunday, 19 February 2017


Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo was founded in 1974
(Photo courtesy Ballets Trockadero)

It was one of the greatest entrances of all time: Montreal drag queens Mado Lamotte and Madame Simone waited until the last possible moment to step into their private loge at Place des Arts to see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo some years ago, just before the red curtain went up.
Then the 3,000 people in Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier turned their heads to watch Mado and Madame Simone – who resembled Marie Antoinette, Queen of France during the French Revolution – and let out a collective gasp.
It was like a command performance.
But when it comes to entrances, no one beats Les Ballets Trockadero, or "Les Trocks" as they are more affectionately known. Back in the 1980s, during a performance at UCLA, the curtain actually fell onto the stage!
"We were in the middle of a dance from Don Quixote and the curtain fell and half of us could have been killed!" says Les Trocks artistic director Tory Dobrin, who originally joined the company as a 26-year-old dancer back in 1980. "Boom! It nearly took out the front row! Dust was flying all over. It was pretty funny, actually. The crew just picked up the curtain, we dusted ourselves off and started again!"

Les Trocks selfie, circa 2017

Les Trocks were officially founded back in September 1974 when the company’s first-ever performance was held in a second storey loft theatre (filled with about 100 folding chairs) on 14th Street in NYC’s meat-packing district.
One of my fave stories about Les Trocks is about the first time the company played a prestigious outdoor festival at the Alhambra, a 14th century Moorish palace in Grenada, Spain, in the mid-1980s: No one told Grenada high society that the NYC dance company was made up of gay men who perfectly parody classical ballet in drag.
"The audience was extremely well-dressed in sequin dresses and jewels and we came out and started the performance and you could see they were all in shock!" says Dobrin. "So they just got up and left! It was a massive exodus! And it wasn’t calmly – they were running!
"It turns out they thought we were Les Ballets of Monte Carlo, not Les Ballets Trockadero! The next night – because, of course, word had gotten out about what had happened – we had the biggest audience we ever had!"
While they make headlines wherever they go, they aren’t exactly rolling in the dough. "You don’t go into the dance world thinking you’re going to make a fortune," Dobrin says. "We have a limited amount of resources. Sometimes our credit card bill reaches close to $100,000! Is that scary? Oh yeah!"
Les Trocks, as the company is affectionately known
The day after Dobrin auditioned as a dancer back in 1980, he was immediately hired and next day flew with the company for a stint in Brazil. But back then young male dancers didn’t think of Les Trocks as a dance company of choice.
"When I joined the company people asked me, ‘Why are you doing that? It will ruin your career!’ Today guys are now auditioning for the company right out of Juilliard! Les Trocks is now considered an acceptable career choice for a dancer."
That doesn’t mean straight male dancers are auditioning for Les Trocks, however. In other words, there is still some stigma attached to being a dancer for Les Trocks. After all, many folks still think they’re a bunch of dancers in drag.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth. And just because pretty much everybody in the company is gay doesn’t mean there’s a lot of drama backstage either.
"We’re all gay guys [but] there are no frayed nerves backstage, there is no drama – we don’t allow it," Dobrin insists. "We hire people who tend to be eccentric characters and when you put together a group of 15 individual personalities, you really need everyone to respect everybody else to make it work."
Essential buttplug Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo perform at Place des Arts’ Theatre Maisonneuve on February 18 and 19, 2017. For tickets, visit or

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