Members of Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in the 1970s (Icarus Films)

Places everyone! The wicked “women” of the all-male Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo have been lavishly sending up ballet for 40 years now, vamping away in sequined tutus and sassy noms de plume like Iva Nevasayneva. Rebels on Pointe makes for an affectionate anniversary tribute to a very New York–centric project that has outgrown its outré origins and developed a global following.

Filmmaker Bobbie Jo Hart follows the troupe through a busy touring and rehearsal schedule, zeroing in on appealing dancers who tell moving personal stories of finding a home in the company. Artistic director Tory Dobrin retraces Trockadero’s beginnings in downtown drag and the rambunctious gay liberation movement. He and dance critics, such as The New Yorker’s Joan Acocella, make the case for the company as more than purveyors of gaudy camp but also as comprising sophisticated dancers of real distinction. One wonders how Trockadero’s send-ups of high culture will endure in a world where high culture disappears a little every day, but the corps seems to be doing fine, playing to a huge following in Tokyo and sold-out houses in London. Tellingly, a once adult affair now numbers kids among its biggest fans.

Hart is a documentary one-woman band who directed, co-produced, and shot much of the film herself. Making a movie this way offers advantages in keeping the focus tight (and saving money), but here the sole-proprietor approach may show its limits. While Rebels’s camerawork nicely captures a few spontaneous moments between dancers, a dance film of this ambition calls for lighter, more artful cinematography to ignite the material and add a touch of magic.

Directed by Bobbie Jo Hart
Released by Icarus Films
Canada. 90 min. Not rated