FROM the moment the lights went down Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo had the audience in stitches.

The New York based all male ballet company, now in its 41st year, is on tour in the UK and had two shows at The Mayflower this weekend with funding support from Arts Council England and Dance Consortium.

A cod Russian voice introduced the pretend Bolshoi dancers – Nadia Domiafeyva (Odette, Queen of the Swans danced by Philip Martin-Nielson) and Sergey Legupski (Prince Siegfried, danced by Giovanni Goffredo) - telling us that they are in ‘a verrrry good mood’.

‘The Trocks,’ as they are affectionately known, started the Friday programme with their signature work, a spot-on parody of Swan Lake. Proving that men can dance just as well as women en pointe, the birds combined expertly executed classical ballet moves with equally adept slapstick. Missed cues and farcical facial expressions were so brilliantly timed that by the end of the act I wondered how the rest of the show could possibly be as funny.

After the first interval Le Corsaire Pas de Deux showed off the boys’ athleticism as Carlos Hopuy and Laszlo Major leapt across the stage in truly breathtaking somersaults and astonishing acrobatics. Then an irreverent take on Balanchine’s Concerto Barocco proved the Trocks do more than ‘just’ dancing on point.

Carlos Renedo’s hilariously histrionic Dying Swan brought the comedy element back to the fore, leaving the audience gagging for more each time he stretched his comedic but gloriously toned body around the curtain for yet another round of applause.

The company’s version of Petipa’s Don Quixote was sincerely moving. Chase Johnsey as Kitri and Paolo Cervellera as Basil seemed made for their parts. Their beguiling smiles throughout the duet were beautiful to watch, hinting at authentic chemistry and real joy at being on stage.

After the show we were treated to a fascinating but far too short Q&A with Trocks' artistic director of twenty years Tory Dobrin. He explained some of the company’s ethos; that dancers are never made to leave due to age, that everyone learns several parts and brings their own humour to each, and that he doesn’t believe in big cruel auditions - instead people are invited to join a class, and if they are friendly and have good manners then they are in with a chance. We also learned that with the invention of plastic points the company’s shoe bill has been reduced from $35,000 per year to just $9,000.

The clever programming took the audience through a range of emotions from eye-watering laughter to wonderment, including angst when one of the dancers hobbled off stage after a genuine fall. We left in awe at the dancers’ embodiment of elegance and strength, yet also with fondness for their irreverence and (very tight) cheek(s). It was a show resplendent in both drag and authenticity, satire and homage, otherworldly expertise and Blackpool-style humour. Simply wonderful.

By Rachel Adams