The history of male professional dancers on pointe shoes It is not two centuries old, but neither is it an invention of ten minutes ago. The British Frederick Ashton choreographed roles for men on pointe in Cinderella, in 1948, and then also or made for Summer night Dream, in 1964. Those and other roles created later were based on the grotesqueness and ugliness of, for example, a clumsy stepsister. Or in the fierceness and contained violence of some witch.
What is unusual in the almost bicentennial technique created by Filippo Taglioni is the design of neoclassical works, without plot or acting excuses, that do not question the use of these slippers as any other piece of clothing for any kind of performer. As if only women could wear them. As if getting on them implied, yes or yes, going through a parody.
A dancer who lives in his satin slippers without question is the principal dancer of the American Ballet james whiteside and that’s how relaxed he can be seen on his social networks.
Of course, Whiteside is not alone on the planet. Little by little it is becoming apparent that training in the pointe technique is a possibility for everyone. And that’s why ballet companies drag They are obtaining a quarry of much better trained interpreters than those who were trained in secret.
Brief history of drag ballet in the world
It is often thought that the pioneer company of this genre is The Trockadero Ballets of Monte Carlowhich first appeared on Off-Off Broadway in 1974. But its founding members came from the Ridiculous Theater Company by Charles Ludlam, a parody theater group from the 1960s. Several of them went on to spin-off of this, Trockadero Gloxinia Ballet Company, founded in 1972.
The formula for Les Trocks, as they are affectionately known, includes montages of great classics of academic ballet in a grotesque tone and the construction of alter egos of its performers who are renamed Nina Immobilashvili or Irina Kolesterolikova.
The international tours, the fame and the high turnover of its performers in these 48 years have led its former members to take the risk of creating new companies in New York and in other countries. As is the case with Víctor Treviño, which he created in 1996 Les Ballets Grandiva in New York and from 2021 Males on Pointe in Mexico, continuing with the artistic direction in both.
Choreographically calculated errors
When classical ballet comes close to humor, it usually needs an audience accustomed to ballet that can laugh at the choreographically created mistakes and the breaking of conventions. Is about a ballet that laughs at ballet. And that is why in some way it becomes a consumption for balletomaniacs.
Ballet with Humor It is the national company that adds all these elements and this month it is celebrating two decades and five years with performances at the Teatro Regina -the last one, next Sunday-. Before each rehearsal they conscientiously do a warm-up class, because the technical demand of dancing on pointe becomes greater, given the difference in centers of gravity, the height of the dancers, the width of their backs and the size of their feet. “Initially, I was looking for the largest size available, I cut off the heel and made fabric grafts, because it was impossible to buy size 43 shoes – recalls Ángel Gómez –, but now manufacturers can be found to make them to measure. And since it is becoming more and more common for men to wear them, they will soon be available everywhere.”
The origins of Ballet con Humor go back to the Teatro Argentino de La Plata, where someone recorded without permission the corrections in the rehearsals led by Emerald Agoglia. Criticism and direct language of teacher they became the soundtrack of a choreography presented in that theater. And then they became a classic Ballet with Humor.
The company, directed by Adrián Dellabora, recently incorporated a new group of dancers who have been progressively adding to the repertoire. “We are passing the torch to the youngest, but we are not thinking of retiring from the stage,” announces Dellabora, who continues to play roles at 64 years old. Our repertoire does not only have classical ballet. There is modern and contemporary dance, neoclassical, folklore, jazz and tango. That gives us a range of possibilities to integrate in different ways”.
The first experiences with pointe shoes were lovingly guided by the companions of the Stable Ballet of the Argentine Theater. And they never got off of there again. Nor did they feel excluded from the dance community. “Discrimination of any kind. On the contrary, we had a beautiful reception with the children’s audience. A huge surprise”, says Dellabora.
As in other drag ballet companies, the humor is based on the parody of the great classics such as the Pas de Quatre de Swan Lake or the pas de deux of Don Quixote. Crossed senses, wrong accents, deadly risks in a lift and other physical comedy jokes. “Our humor is very innocent. Only once did we make a more racy gesture, but we were at the Maipo Cabaret”, recalls Dellabora.
In addition to the voice of Agoglia mercilessly correcting, you can also hear the thoughts of Perica Delongo – the dancer played by Daniel Longo – when she feels her life is at risk by putting herself in the hands of a partner inexperienced. “You don’t need to know a lot about ballet to laugh –Dellabora maintains-, but obviously people who know ballet laugh twice as much, because there are many subtleties that have to do with the works that we parody. It is for all audiences”.
Two decades and five yearsby Ballet with humor-Comic company. Sunday, November 13, at 8:30 p.m., at the REGINA Theater, Avenida Santa Fe 1235. Tickets from $1,500