NEA Goes Tutu Far by Funding Gender-Bending Troupe that Makes Ballet a Drag

Emma Campbell | June 9, 2023
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Federal money is going toward a drag parody ballet troupe’s performances and other “activities” in communities, according to the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant archives.

From June 2022 to May 2023, the all-male troupe, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (often called the “Trocks”), received $10,000 from the NEA. The funding was for the performance and touring of the ballet La Viviandiere, as well as “related community engagement activities.” Those activities, as recorded on NEA’s grant search site, included “drag make-up tutorials” and “open dialogues pre- and post-performances focused on social justice and inclusivity.” 

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is based out of New York and has been in operation since 1974. According to their diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility statement, the Trocks are “(committed) to providing a stage for dancers often underrepresented in classical ballet due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, size, social class, race and ethnicity.” Their mission is to make drag and liberal gender ideology appear mainstream by being “slyly subversive” through the performance of “polished parodies of classical ballets.”

“The company’s education and engagement programs allow the Company to extend the work it does on stage and engage communities in reimagining their expectations of ballet performance and its intersection with gender roles and identities,” the troupe’s statement says.

This is not the first time the Trocks have received funding from the NEA, a federal agency tasked with “(giving) people across America the opportunity to participate in and experience the arts.” Since June of 2019, the group has received $140,000 in federal grants from the NEA, including $35,000 awarded this month that will extend to May 2024. These funds have gone toward the operating costs and other expenses of the troupe for the past four years.

NEA funds drag ballet.