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Men in tights; Trockadero dancer Philip Martin-Nielson guest teaches at The Dance Center

Students watch Martin-Nielson as he shows the correct way to do a balancé

By Isabel Braverman
March 27, 2013

PORT JERVIS, NY — It’s not often that ballet students get the opportunity to be taught by a professional dancer. On Saturday, March 23, students of all ages at The Dance Center in Port Jervis got that chance.

The dancer who came to teach is as unique as they come. He is Philip Martin-Nielson, the youngest and newest member of the company Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Trockadero is an all-male comedy ballet troupe that dances both the male and female roles, requiring the men to dance en pointe.

“It’s not as new and unusual as a lot of people would think,” says Martin-Nielson. He explained that men have been dancing en pointe for many years, and it is especially popular in European companies. He started when he was 12, and said his teachers knew he would join Trockadero. “They told my mother when I was six years old that I would probably end up joining this company, before my mother even knew what it was.” He said he always wanted to join a big ballet company and when he saw an ad for the audition he decided to go for it.

He auditioned when he was still in training at the School of American Ballet. The company liked him, but he was too young to join. On his 18th birthday, the director sent him an email with a contract to join the company. He said, “I was so excited and I was so ready and I said yes right away.” Martin-Nielson joined in September 2012 at 18 years old, the youngest of the 15-member company.

Trockadero started in the ‘70s during the drag movement in downtown New York. Famous ballet dancers would watch the performances, like George Balanchine and dancers from American Ballet Theatre. Increasingly in demand, the company started doing longer shows earlier in the day, and then started internationally touring. Today it travels the world doing 30 to 40 weeks of touring. In one week it will begin its U.S. tour, where it will perform in Binghamton on April 2.

A show by the “Trocks” has the original choreography of famous ballets with gags thrown in. The jokes play on the world of the ballet dancer, yet are still funny to an audience unfamiliar with that very exclusive world.