Review: All-male troupe brings cheeky sensibility to classical dance in documentary ‘Rebels on Pointe’

Robert Carter, from left, Philip Martin-Nielson, Chase Johnsey, Laszlo Major and Cris Ouellette in the documentary "Rebels on Pointe."
(Icarus Films)

Can men be considered “ballerinas”? They can — and are — especially when they’re members of the gender-bending, all-male comic ballet company, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, a.k.a. “The Trocks,” which is enjoyably profiled in the documentary “Rebels on Pointe.”

The internationally popular, 43-year-old group, founded in the wake of the Stonewall riots and the start of the modern day gay-rights movement, doesn’t consider itself a gay dance troupe per se. But, as artistic director Tory Dobrin notes here, since all its members are gay and perform in drag, there’s a pretty specific “sensibility” at work.

The ethnically diverse company’s chief calling card is its irreverent take on a largely traditional art form: adding facial and physical humor to superb classical dance technique. The result is a delightful, embracing cultural experience, one that the film’s director, Bobbi Jo Hart, warmly captures in all its offbeat glory as she follows the group from its New York base to performances in Canada, Japan, Scotland and elsewhere.

The movie also benefits from its intriguing peeks into the personal, home and family lives of several open-book troupe members. Chats with Dobrin (who offers strong historical context, including how the AIDS crisis impacted the Trocks), dance critics and American Ballet Theatre principal dancer James Whiteside round out this intimate portrait.



‘Rebels on Pointe’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills

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