Rebels on Pointe gets serious about high camp

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      A documentary by Bobbi Jo Hart. Rating unavailable

      A perfect row of frothy-white-tutu-clad ballerinas tippy-toes across the stage, but when one swings into an arabesque, she knocks over a fellow swan with the force of a heavyweight kickboxer.

      To anyone who’s ever caught Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo when the all-male drag troupe has visited Vancouver, the scene from Rebels on Pointe will be familiar—a cheeky mix of perfect technical execution and high camp. And those fans are the ideal target market for this loving documentary, which digs—albeit not too deeply—into the history and artistry of the troupe.

      The film also serves as a larger celebration of how far not only the company, but also society, has come. “The Trocks”, as they are lovingly known, had their start amid the 1970s gay-rights movement, when their makeshift Meatpacking District digs were a safe place for boys who had grown up chastised for wanting to don pink pointe shoes. The company survived, but just barely, the AIDS epidemic. Today, as director Bobbi Jo Hart follows it on tour buses and planes travelling the world, the troupe is celebrated by ballet aficionados (American Ballet Theatre principal dancer James Whiteside praises the Trocks’ technical skill and humour here) and is home to several married couples. Culled from around the world, its dancers are as devoted as any prima ballerina—and apparently have loving families to support them.

      One of the film’s most compelling stories belongs to the troupe’s veteran star, Robert “Bobby” Carter, who takes the film crew home to his unglamorous roots in rural South Carolina. Hiding any pain from his past through laughter, he introduces a mother who faithfully encouraged her son at a time when, clearly, it wasn’t remotely acceptable to do so.

      But more than anything, Rebels on Pointe sets out to prove the company, despite its gags, is no joke—that behind the gallons of makeup, the metres of tulle, and the size-12 slippers, the men here are top-flight dancers. Just try lifting a 165-pound guy over your head if you don’t believe us.