Jack Furlong Jr. used to have trouble dancing with a wig and fake eyelashes, but after his first couple years with the drag ballet company Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, he got “into the swing of it.”
“I had no clue what I was doing, but other dancers throughout time help you and teach you but it took me for ages,” said the Boston-born dancer, later adding that he now sees that from the other side. “It’s interesting when you have new people come in and you watch them trying to figure it out and realize, ‘Wow, that was me six years ago.’”
Six years ago Furlong Jr. had almost given up on dancing when he heard there was an opening with the “Trocks.” He had injured his back and was working “normal jobs” and considering returning to school when he decided to audition. Six days later he was performing with the Trocks in Amsterdam.
“I didn’t really think I was going to get the job because I actually hadn’t really been dancing that much. But the director said once recently that he hired me because I was quirky,” Furlong Jr. said. “He definitely tries to hire a lot of the dancers for their individual qualities. Everyone’s a little bit different in their own way.”
Since 2014 Furlong Jr. and the Trocks have danced across Europe, Japan and North America, and on Feb. 5 the group makes its Nanaimo debut at the Port Theatre.
Furlong Jr. said the program will include the company’s “staples,” including Act II from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. But familiarity with ballet is not required of the audience, Furlong Jr. said, as much of the humour in the show comes from slap stick and the dancers’ “sassy” personas.
“Its a very electric show,” he said. “It’s bright, it’s funny, but there’s also very good, impressive, classical dancing at the same time.”
Furlong Jr. said the production makes for a good introduction to ballet, as it may prompt viewers to seek out the source material, but he just wants people to go home feeling fulfilled.
“I just really hope people leave with smiles on their faces and they just really enjoy what we brought,” he said. “If they’re laughing, we’re happy.”
WHAT’S ON … Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo perform at the Port Theatre, 125 Front St., on Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $65 for adults, $60 for members, $25 for students. Available from the box office. Pre-show chat at 6:45 p.m. in the Harmac Room.