The Cunninghamesque dancers were Maria Paranova, Alla Snizova and Dimitri Legupski. (I think it was Dimitri they named as a substitution in a pre-performance announcement — he's one of three or four Legupski brothers in the company: Ivan, Marat, Dimitri, and Vladimir, who seems to have retired or fled since the last time I saw the Trocks.) They gave a legible account of the Cunningham vocabulary: vertical skips with a choice of arm gestures, big jumps and lunges, long balances on half-toe, and a prominent use of the back and — in Legupski's case — the backside. All five performers maintained neutral expressions bordering on rigor mortis.
After these tributes to dance history, the program trampled through four more landmarks of the 19th century. Lariska Dumbchenko gave a touching if alarming portrait of The Dying Swan, in which the thick trail of feathers that cascaded from her tutu put her in danger of skidding.
In the pas de deux from Le Corsaire, Mikhail Mypansarov gave a memorable imitation of the soaring leaps and sumptuous ego of Rudolf Nureyev, despite the risk of being struck in the face by the tassel on the tiny fez worn by his partner, Yakatarina Verbosovich, every time he spun her in a pirouette. The company did its best to conquer the delicate steps of the pas de six from La Vivandière, which has been dragged back from 1844 and staged by Elena Kunakova. The romantic-era illusion suffered somewhat because the ballerina, Katerina Bychkova, loomed over her danseur noble, Ketevan Iosifidi, by at least a foot. Nevertheless, he managed to avoid being crushed when she went off balance by propping her up with both hands.
It was Raymonda's Wedding (1898), with Alexander Glazunov's great score, that offered the most dancing and musical pleasure of the evening, and some surprises. Despite the company's attention to historical authenticity, no attribution was given for the subtitle, "A Traditionally Confusing Divertissement in Two Scenes." The Trocks are not the first to dispense with Raymonda's intricate plot and present only the "happy ending," but they are the first to give the scenario's mysterious White Lady (Ida Nevasayneva) a prominent if superfluous role in the wedding dances.
Otherwise, they preserved Petipa's choreographic schemes quite faithfully, except for one innovation. The traditional male variation was danced by a corps of four women, as the Bridegroom, Marat Legupski, made a series of important entrances and retreats. The variations were danced with animation by Nadezhda Bogdownova, Nina Enimenimynimova, Lariska Dumbchenko, and the ever-eager Supphozova; the Bride was Sveltlana Lofatkina.
The young choreographer Kyle Abraham, whose company played the Pillow's Doris Duke Theatre the same week, draws from many sources in American dance, music, and pop culture. He even makes reference to Le Corsaire and The Dying Swan among other received images in his solo Inventing Pookie Jenkins (2006). Abraham seems preoccupied with the clashing sexual and social possibilities in his identity as an African-American, conservatory-educated, postmodern dancer.
In Pookie Jenkins, bare-chested and wearing a long white ballet skirt, he undulates and sways, punches and twists, perhaps trying out roles he might perform. Rap music plays, and he picks up a huge boombox, struts around, gives the audience homeboy handshakes. Abraham has danced with Bill T. Jones, and this solo owes a lot to the devastating switches from seductive availability to bravado and ferocious race baiting of Jones's solo style, without Jones's intimidating sense of controlled anger.