Magazine article Dance Magazine

Les Grands Ballets De Loony

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Les Grands Ballets De Loony

Article excerpt

June 10-11, 1995

Something there is that doesn't love a ballerina. She is so beautiful and so scrutinized that her art can come to seem ridiculously earnest, and a rich subject for parody. But it's almost as difficult to dance poorly as to dance well; parody is as tricky to pull off as ballet. And Les Grands Ballets de Loony succeeds only once in a while.

Most of the company's satirical numbers consist of swaggering show-stopper cliches trotted out uncritically by a cast combining men dressed en travesti with classically credentialed, mugging ladies. The cliches (such as totally traditional impersonations of Carmen Miranda and Shirley Temple) aren't physically detailed enough or conceptually bold enough to seem genuinely subversive or funny, even though the communal energy is always gung-ho. And send-ups of particular ballets, such as Balanchine's Square Dance (retitled The Square's Dance, choreographed by artistic director Marcus Galante, and a premiere), are filled with capers yet add up to little.

The exception is The Dying Swan, a spoof of Fokine. Loony's uncredited version has the magnificently muscled ballerina la Tollah (played by the Joffrey's Michael Anderson) shedding countless white feathers from her tutu while also covering the stage with utterly persuasive bourrees. (la Tollah, as revealed in her program bio note, had to be smuggled out of an unspecified Islamic country after "declaring holy war on fanatical preachers who had attempted to force her to wear black pointe shoes.") The dance and the dancer are ideally suited to each other, and the parody is so sharply articulated that any true balletomane would probably be delighted. …

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