Over forty years ago, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo was founded in New York City. An artistic offshoot of the gay rights movement, “The Trockedaro” features gay male dancers donning tutus and performing the female parts from many famous ballets. So while any other all-male troupe might not even think twice about trying to stage “Swan Lake”, The Trockadero isn’t as easily dissuaded.

The resulting work – a mixture of timing, strength, comedy, and elegance – is both unique, and wonderfully uplifting.

REBELS ON POINTE is a ballad to the importance of family for any artist. Whether it’s seeing one dancer re-united with his Cuban mother after her four-year struggle trying to immigrate from Cuba, or watching an Italian dancer tend to his father affected by Parkinson’s, the message is clear: The heart of a true artist is a tender one. It’s a place inside of them that is especially vulnerable and receptive. The beauty and poise these artists put into their work is inspired by a deep blood bond, and seeing that bond wrapped tight around dancer after dancer cannot be a coincidence.

This film delivers a wonderful message about understanding expectations. As the company’s director puts it: “You don’t have to fit in, but you do have to be able to function”. In other words,  allowing for individual expression, but conveying that there are still expectations that come for anyone. The message is apt for both one and many:

We may feel like we’re not understood within a larger whole, but that doesn’t give us license not to try our best. On the flip side, we may believe that someone we interact with isn’t “part of the group”, but if they pull their weight and do the work, what does any of that matter?

What’s true in dance is true in life.

What the subjects of this documentary do on-stage is a curious blend of power, grace, and stamina. Besides being a tip of the cap to the talent of dancers everywhere, it is specifically a nod to the movement these men are part of – the ever evolving quest for homosexual rights. After all, what is any movement for change but a collective show of power, stamina, and grace?

The Trockadero began in fringe performance spaces to nearly-eclusive adult gay audiences. Now they play in massive concert halls to audiences of all ages, genders, and sexual orientations. They have marked our progress of equality and acceptance literally step-by-step. There is still much dancing to be done, but these men have a lot of life left in their legs yet.


REBELS ON POINTE has finished its Hot Docs engagement. Keep an eye on its official website for future showings.