Pirouette with Les Ballets Eloelle
Founder and director Victor Trevino is the man behind the all-male ballet company, Les Ballets Eloelle. Recently, he shares the best thing about being a ballerino. By Cheng Sim.
Les Ballets Eloelle has been around for awhile. Are there any challenges left that the team hasn’t faced?
Every new audience is a challenge. We really try every night to have the best show possible and to make sure people have a good time. Artistically, dancing is also always a challenge that has to be conquered nightly. We have been in many situations, though. We have performed in very small and very large spaces. We have performed for audiences who have never seen dance and for some of the best dancers in the world. We have definitely faced many situations and we have been lucky enough to come through and given great performances.
What is it like to show up for work in a tutu?
We don't actually show up that way, tutus are not so comfortable to wear in taxis or most other forms of transit. I can attest to that, I have done promotional tours where I had to get into costume and was transported on trains, automobiles and small vans and I would not do that willingly. Working in a tutu for a show though is interesting. You can't really see your feet. You also tend to bounce into things around you if you're not careful.
What’s the best thing about being a ballerino? And the worst or funniest?
People are a lot more polite to you when you are in costume. They also smile at you when they see you which is very nice. It breaks down a barrier. The worst thing is having to go to the bathroom for obvious reasons. It is not easy to get in and out of the costume. One of the funniest things I remember is years ago I did a photo shoot for Sleeping Beauty. The photographer chose this antique bed to do the shoot in and it was located in this wonderful store. I was lying in the bed in the full costume and makeup and customers had gathered around to watch the shoot. I had been lying very still with my eyes closed and when I sat up a woman screamed, she thought I was a doll.
In the past, what were the challenges you faced as a male ballet dancer?
For me personally, height was always an issue. I am vertically challenged and not so many male professional ballet dancers are my size. There are always challenges though, staying in shape, working on your technical ability, and working on your artistry are just a few of the constant challenges faced by dancers.
Describe ‘Men in Tutus’ in five words.
Funny, surprising, beautiful, talented, and different.
What is your take on the conventional ballet performance?
There is nothing quite as wonderful as a beautiful performance of classical dance. When a really superb dancer is able to convey emotion through movement is magic. I think Eloelle tries to capture some of that magic and expose audiences to the possibilities in dance.
Do you see the comedic side of Les Ballets Eloelle as a way to let loose?
Comedy is both freeing and very frightening. You have to be able to really open up and have a good time with the audience and that is not easy for most people. It does give us a bit of license to take chances that traditional companies wouldn't take. Technically, we are able to let loose and if things don't work out, it is an opportunity for comedy.
Les Ballets Eloelle is practically without any competitor in your industry. So, what do you believe to be its major competitor in general?
Although I don't really consider it a competition, we do compete in a way with other forms of media. Getting people to leave their homes and come out to see live theater is a challenge. There are 3D movies and all kinds of entertainment available to us. Bringing new audiences to see live theater is challenging. I think once they experience live theater they understand how special that experience is.
Where do you guys draw your comedy materials from?
We draw from many sources. Physical comedy in theater and in film are great sources of inspiration, but we also draw from our own personal experience. I always feel each artist has a unique voice that has to be developed. We can only draw so much from others before we are on our own.
By the way, what do ballerinos do in between intermissions?
Touch up their makeup.
Tell us something we don’t know about Les Ballets Eloelle.
Ballet Eloelle transitioned from Les Ballets Grandiva. I founded both companies. There are many similarities, but there is a difference in that we are shifting the focus towards the comedy. El O Elle translates to him or her. Each dancer will probably go through about four to five pairs of shoes on their tour of Malaysia. We have dancers representing eight countries in the current company. Argentina, Columbia, USA, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Chile, Japan, Iceland and The Philippines. We love to meet people.
Les Ballets Eloelle will perform in Men in Tutus at the upcoming George Town Festival 2013. For more info, see listing.