The Politics of Dancing: Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo

  • Selby Wynn Schwartz University of California, Berkeley


Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (nicknamed "The Trocks") have been performing "serious" ballets en travesti since 1974. Acclaimed worldwide, the Trocks are on tour forty weeks a year. Last time they performed in New York, Time Out New York listed them as "pick of the week," in three categories simultaneously: best dance performance, best gay & lesbian event, and best children's activity (Chung). What does all this popularity mean, politically? Is it necessary to concede that the Trocks are merely another lovably harmless manifestation of drag, just as well assimilated as Mrs. Doubtfire and Dame Edna, or can we trace from their double heritage - edgy 1970's gay performance tactics, and those monumentally iconic Russian prima ballerinas - an underlying political strategy of activism and cultural relevance? In this article, I will argue that political motivation is embedded in each of these traditions, in a number of different ways. The strategies of resistance employed by the Ballets Trockadero draw on each of these inherited histories in order to mount a camp performance that confronts the tenets of gender identity, of classical ballet, of issues of race and class in the performing arts, of enforced theatrical illusion - and even of drag itself. 

Author Biography

Selby Wynn Schwartz, University of California, Berkeley
Dr. Selby Wynn Schwartz is a Lecturer in the Department of Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley. Her interests include gender and performance and her first book - a study of gender and performance in the vernacular poetry of medieval Europe - is due out next year.
How to Cite
Schwartz, Selby. 2007. “The Politics of Dancing: Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo”. FORUM: University of Edinburgh Postgraduate Journal of Culture & The Arts, no. 04 (June).
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