Review: ‘Rebels on Pointe,’ and in Tutus


Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in “Giselle” in the 1980s, from “Rebels on Pointe.” Credit Icarus Films

On days when it seems there isn’t too much to smile about, grab a glass of wine and watch “Rebels on Pointe,” Bobbi Jo Hart’s playful documentary about the all-male comedy dance troupe, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. The cinematography isn’t the greatest, and the structure is hit or miss, but so what? In a movie this good natured, the heart is everything.

The performances are hilarious, but the dancing is no joke. As Gia Kourlas, a dance critic for The New York Times, points out, it takes exceptionally strong technique to merge classical choreography and comedy. Achieving what James Whiteside, a principal dancer for American Ballet Theater, calls “a balance between high art and clever camp” requires endless rehearsal and often physical therapy. Hoisting a 150-lb. man aloft is not for the weak-kneed.


Trailer: ‘Rebels on Pointe’

A preview of the film.

By ICARUS FILMS on Publish Date November 14, 2017. Image courtesy of Internet Video Archive. Watch in Times Video »

Born from the dust of the Stonewall riots in the 1970s (the name is a homage to the legendary Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo), the company was initially blackballed by financiers and quickly learned to survive on a budget. Leading us lightly through that history, the artistic director and the movie’s unofficial narrator, Tory Dobrin, describes the devastation of AIDS and the relief of creating a space where dancers could forge their own identities. Giving the middle finger to classical ballet was just gravy.

Filming for four years, Ms. Hart follows a handful of touching individual stories and takes us on the road (the Trocks, as they are known, are rock stars in Japan), a punishing travel schedule that gobbles up more than two-thirds of the year. Oxygenating almost every scene, though, is the men’s delight in being liberated from the gender restrictions of traditional ballet — a freedom that allows them to create art that’s uniquely their own.

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