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Williams S. Gooch, III
Talks With Victor Trevino
Artistic Director of Les Ballets Grandiva

Photographed by Mary Blanco

(Opposite Photo: Victor Trevino (Nina Minimaximova) in "They Who Wore White Flowers")

Click here for the Ballet Grandiva Feature
Click here for the Ballet Grandiva Review


This interview with Victor Trevino, artistic director of Les Ballets Grandiva, took place at the 42nd Street Studios a few days before their performance at Symphony Space.

Victor Trevino

Williams S. Gooch: How did you get started in dance?

Victor Trevino: Well, I got started in my late teens. I needed to help my family out with the family business so I dropped out of college, and to fill in the extra time in my schedule I took some ballet classes. My teacher was Marcia Hale and eventually I ended up dancing in the ballet company (Ballet Orlando) affiliated with the school.

Williams S. Gooch: How long did you perform with Ballet Orlando?

Victor Trevino: I danced with them for about two years. It was a small company and I am a small man so there weren’t a lot of opportunities for me to dance leading roles. Many of the women in the company exceeded me in height, so partnering them was not an option. So, I left Ballet Orlando and joined Les Ballets Trockadero.

Williams S. Gooch: How did you hear about Les Ballets Trockadero?

Victor Trevino: Well, I had heard about this company and the novel thing they were doing at the time. I began to look at what ballet company I could fit into where my height, or lack of it, would not be an issue. I wanted to continue dancing the classical ballet repertoire and realized I could do that at Trockadero. The only difference is that I would be dancing the female roles. Anyway, I auditioned for them and they accepted me in the company.

Williams S. Gooch: How long did you perform with Les Ballets Trockadero?

Victor Trevino: I danced with them for about 9 years and performed most of the leading roles.

Williams S. Gooch: Why did you leave?

Victor Trevino: I left because the management changed and the vision for the company was different than where I wanted my career to go. I am a very forceful personality and have very strong opinions. I realized that I was on a different path than Trockadero and so we parted ways.

Williams S. Gooch: Now how did Les Ballet Grandiva come about?

Victor Trevino: There were some producers in Japan that were involved in Ballet Trockadero’s production in that country. They approached me about started a new all-male ballet comedy troupe with me as the featured performer. They wanted to create a company that brought better production quality to the ballets. At the time, the Trockadero’s had two programs that they did interchangeably, only occasionally inserting a different work. These new producers wanted a more varied repertoire than that was offered at the Trockadero at that time.

Williams S. Gooch: What is the difference between Grandiva and Trockadero?

Victor Trevino: I can only speak from my experience, but the Ballet Trockadero is mostly interested in the comedic aspect of men dancing in toe shoes and tutus. Our aesthetic is somewhat different; yes we are interested in the comedy, but integrated into the characterization of the roles. I am trying to create this fantasy world where the audience is watching these bizarre personalities on stage. Therefore, it is about the personalities on stage, not necessarily the gender.

Williams S. Gooch: In more mainstream ballet companies one of the most important elements is uniformity in body type and style; however, in your company there is diversity in style, body type and ethnicity. Why have you chosen that route?

Victor Trevino: Some ballet companies work really hard to get rid of all personality and have this incredible precision and uniformity and that can be very beautiful. But for me as a viewer and as an artistic director the interaction between these different personalities is more interesting Trockadero tries to capture the same comedic experience again and again, no matter who danced the role, and we are just not about that. We are trying to build a show that is constantly evolving.

Williams S. Gooch: What do you find harder, being the prima ballerina of the company or the artistic director, or both?

Victor Trevino: I was very lucky. The producers who started Grandiva didn’t know a whole lot about ballet, so from the beginning I got to pretty much do my own thing and recreate the genre, taking it into a new direction. They have been pleased with my direction so that works for all parties involved. I still dance some of the leading roles in the company, so I have to stay in shape in order to perform up to a certain standard. I guess my answer to the question is both duties are equally challenging.

Williams S. Gooch: How difficult is it to teach men to dance on pointe?

Victor Trevino: If they have good ballet technique to begin with learning to dance in pointe shoes is not that hard. What is difficult is getting the finesse that a ballerina would have. We get men in the company now that are so well trained that they can learn how to do things in a week that took me years to learn. But the detailed work that women have taken years to develop in their technique is much harder for men to master.

Williams S. Gooch: How do pick dancers for your company?

Victor Trevino: We don’t hold auditions for Grandiva because we want to avoid people who see this as an opportunity to do drag or female impersonation. We invite people to take company class with us based on an audition tape they’ve sent us or through recommendation. We also invite people we have seen in ballet classes in the different cities we tour in.
Williams S. Gooch: You have a huge following in Japan, what do you attribute that to?

Victor Trevino: We have a three and a half month season in Japan every year. And honestly, we are treated like rock stars. After almost every performance they are maybe 100 to 150 young women lined up at the stage door to give us flowers and gifts. In Japanese culture, they are very used to men in the theatre playing female roles, as you find in Kabuki. So, the concept of an all-male comedy troupe is not foreign to them.

Williams S. Gooch: Lastly, what is next for Les Ballets Grandiva?

Victor Trevino: We have our first season in Australia coming up and of course our Japanese season. We are finally starting to get some funding and with that hopefully more touring in the United States.





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