In the sphere of ballet a wave of parodies to a female dance represents some kind of “male emancipation” after a long-lasting dominance of ballerinas at the stage. Initially ALL the roles in the ballet had been performed by men, then the situation became quite the opposite and for over two centuries primarily ladies had been reigning on the stage, while men acted as a “background” for them. But even in those times there was a space for irony regarding that state of things in the ballet world and only occasionally men performed women’s roles.
It’s worth to mention, that the tradition of “serious” performing for female roles by men still exists. For example, the role of fairy Carabos in “Sleeping Beauty” is still performed by men.
Therea are just a few male troupes performing female roles including “Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo” and Valery Mikhailovsky’s Male Ballet (St. Petersburg). The former performs only parodies for female roles (plus clownery).
The latter, established in 1992 by a talented choreographer Valery Mikhailovsky, consists of truly professional ballet dancers, who not only study female techniques, but also develop the contemporary tendencies of male dancing. Their performances, which initially tended to be the parody of female dancers, gradually obtained more dramatic character. Their latest productions are filled with strong emotions and are very philosophical.
A few words about the director, founder, and choreographer, Valery Mikhailovsky. After finishing Kiev-based Choreographic School in 1971, Mikhailovsky for six years had been playing the main roles in the famous Odessa-based Theater of Ballet and Opera.
Six years later his professionalism and talent were highly estimated by Boris Eifman, who invited him to work in his Ballet Theater. Eifman created his own style of ballet, which represents the synthesis of classical and contemporary dancing, added with philosophy and drama. In 1977-1991 Valery Mikhailovsky was the leading dancer in most ballets staged by Eifman.
In 1992 Mikhailovsky left Eifman’s Theater after 20 years of being a top ballet dancer to retire. Soon after, at the age of 38, Valery organized his own troupe, consisting of ten men, and each of them being a bright personality. Mikhailovsky feels that contemporary ballerinas have lost the grandeur of style that ballet demands… All together they try to prove that ballet dancers need not be female.
In the first act they show the most complicated contemporary male roles, while in the second they dance female roles, wearing tutus. The provoking, practically invisible outfits in the first act make you think the dancers are naked, while the bright make-up, tutus, female gestures and dancing en pontes in the second act cause a great laughter.
Next year Mikhailovsky’s Male Ballet will celebrate its’ 20th anniversary. The technique they have created is absolutely unique, their movements embrace both the virtuosity of men and the smoothness of women.
Valery Mikhailovsky, in spite of his age is in a terrific shape – he is very flexible and incredibly vibrant; he acts in all the ballets he has staged. Mikhailovsky is one of a very few in the world of ballet who has danced practically all the styles of XX century choreography. He has been on tours in many countries of the world and has lots of international awards, including his name listed in the Encyclopedia of Ballet.
Each of their productions is followed by long-lasting bursts of applauses and audiences are thoroughly impressed with the skill and professionalism of this well-trained group. Their dancing can be compared with flying…