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Favorite Ballet Video #2


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 23 January 1999 - 04:46 PM

This is to start a new thread of favorite ballet videos.

The following was posted by Marc, and I'm putting it up because I wanted to respond to it.

Marc wrote:

Ballet videos that rank highly on my list are:
"The Nutcracker" with Yekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev from 1978 at the Bolshoi. This version of the ballet by Yuri Grigorovich is one of the very few to match the sweep and ardour of Tchaikovsky's music. It also features two magnificent artists at the height of their abilities and the tranformation of the doll into the prince is one of the truly magical moments of ballet on film.

"Raymonda" with Irina Kolpakova and Sergei Berezhnoi from 1978 at the Kirov, simply because it highlights one of the really great Russian classical ballerinas. The staging by Sergeyev is a model and the Kirov-company is simply glorious. A lesson in style.

"The Sleeping Beauty" with Alla Sizova and Yuri Soloviev from 1964, also Kirov Ballet. The superb Sizova is hardly known in the West, yet her interpretation of Aurora is one of the most convincing on film, while Soloviev is considered to be the best Russian male dancer ever. Also features the famous Natalya Dudinskaya and a young Natalya Makarova. A dream.

#2 Alexandra

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Posted 23 January 1999 - 04:53 PM

I've never seen that Raymonda, but I'll look for it -- thanks. I admire Kolpakova's Aurora very much and I'm sure her Raymonda would be just as lovely.

I have the Sizova "Sleeping Beauty" -- she's teaching here in Washington now at the Kirov Academy, by the way; supposedly a fine, and strict, teacher. It's a wonderful example of how styles change. With 1999 eyes, the dancing -- and the dancers -- are small-scaled, light, very fluid and fluent, not unlike the Royal during the '60s. I emphasize that this is with 1999 eyes. In the 1960s, the Kirov and the Royal would have looked very different from each other. It's interesting that, on this video, Makarova is actually rather chubby. (And maddening that, at least on the American version, only the Bluebird adagio is shown, not the solos. Her partner is Panov, whom we never saw dance at his prime.)

I do have a question, though, on your comment that Solovyev is considered the best Russian dancer ever. That's news to me, and I wondered if this was current Russian-Kirov thinking, or just another European/American difference? In my iconography, he was a fine demicaractere dancer, though not as great a virtuoso as Baryshnikov. I've never heard him mentioned as a great Prince, though, and I must say that when I saw this video, I was surprised that the Kirov had cast him in a noble role. I never saw his Bluebird, which I have read was absolutely fabulous.

(Please understand, favorites are favorites, and I'm not writing this to criticize your choices; I'm really curious about Solovyev, whether that's your opinion, or whether it's general "conventional wisdom" now, as we would say here.)

alexandra

#3 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 25 January 1999 - 02:46 PM

I am not sure, Alexandra, whether the "Raymonda" with Kolpakova is commercially available now; in any case my copy comes from a BBC-broadcast of some 20 years ago. As far as I know it never appeared on cassette in Europe, though it may have in the US or Japan.

As for Soloviev, I guess it's rather a Russian/Western difference. Yuri Soloviev is idolized in Russia. For Russian ballet people, Kirov as well as Bolshoi, he is a genius, a god. In the West I think he is hardly known, let alone correctly valued. In the West he is also overshadowed in fame by Nureyev and Baryshnikov. Over here, Soloviev is at best remembered as a Kirov dancer from the sixties with a nice jump. That's about as correct as saying that Tchaikovsky is the composer of the "1812" ouverture.

The rare films (from Russian TV) that exist of Soloviev show something more than that (besides the "Sleeping Beauty" there is "Grand Pas Classique", "Flower Festival at Genzano", "Spectre de la Rose", "Blue Bird", "Black Swan Pas de deux", variations from "Le Corsaire", from "Laurencia", and some others). He indeed jumps higher than anybody else, possessing a unique 'ballon', but what really impresses is the overall quality of movement (he is a true legato-dancer, linking the most intricate movements and steps), the continuously perfect placement and technical finish, the effortlessness and the gentle power of his whole being.
Yuri Soloviev was not only a phenomenal technician (some argue he even put Baryshnikov in the shade), he simply represents classical male dancing in its purest form.
Dramatically Soloviev may look (for 1999 eyes) old-fashioned, yet I find his subdued and introspective Désiré in the "Sleeping Beauty" rather convincing.
As for his partnering abilities, the greatest Kirov ballerina's of his time (Kolpakova, Komleva, Sizova, Makarova) remind him in glowing terms. His untimely death in 1977 (by suicide) reportedly was
a severe blow for Kolpakova, whom he had been partnering regularly.

Every ballet lover should at least have seen the films of Soloviev's pas de deux and variations once in his life, because they show more than anything else what ballet is about.
If a compilation of these films would exist on a tape, that would undoubtedly be my all-time favorite.

"The best Russian male dancer" ?? -- Absolutely.

And finally, Alexandra, never call Soloviev a "nice demicaractère dancer" when Russians are present, they might take offense.

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 25 January 1999 - 07:58 PM

"Demicaractere" is not a term of derision, and I certainly didn't mean it as such, but rather the denotation of a genre. My classification of Soloviev as such is based on what English and American critics during the 1960s, who did see Soloviev on Kirov tours to the West, wrote. I remember reading early reports of Baryshnikov (also a demicaractere dancer) that compared him to Soloviev. Demis are also classical dancers, of course, and can be fine stylists. Or at least they used to be.

I have nothing against Soloviev (and I have seen several of the video pas de deux you mentioned), I just was surprised at reading him described as the greatest Russian male dancer. A star dancer, certainly, but not the greatest. (One could argue, of course, that naming anyone as "the greatest" is difficult; where do you put Nijinsky or Chabukiani?) Interesting that the Russian view is different. Of course, they never got to see much of Nureyev.

alexandra

[This message has been edited by alexandra (edited 01-25-99).]

#5 Guest_Larissa_*

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Posted 28 January 1999 - 10:19 AM

My favorite ballet video is ABT now , at City Center. That's really wonderful. I like too the Kirov's Le Corsaire with Asylmuratova and Ruzimatov and the Magic of the Kirov ballet , with many Kirov stars.

#6 Guest_Lauren_*

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Posted 17 February 1999 - 11:59 AM

I agree with Larissa about the ABT now video, its wonderful. I also love Royal Ballet's Sleeping Beauty with Viviana Durante and Zoltan Solymosi. Its gorgeous...I hope you've all seen it.


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