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Alexandra

What's your favorite ballet video?

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What's your favorite ballet video? Please tell why, as well as what, it is.

alexandra

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My favorite ballet tape is a tape I made of a 4-part series on A&E called "Ballerina" hosted and narrated by Makarova. Everyone and everything is on it. Some of my favorite sections of it are: 1. My introduction to Sylvia Guillem 2. Makarova rehearsing Giselle; a study in how to take-off and land a lift. Brother!! 3. Death scene from Cranko's Romeo and Juliet with Fracci. As far as a commercial tape....that's really a hard one; there are so many excellent ones. Some are important because of who is dancing; some for the choreography, some for the history. Historically I think I'd choose Ashton's Cinderella with Ashton in it as one of the stepsisters. For just watching dancing................ Manon, La Bayadere with Asylmuratova, Moukhamedov and Bussell. I think it presents Asylmuratova at her best. Oh, I love them all!

Giannina

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La Bayadere by the Royal Ballet, with Asylmuratova, Mukhamedov, and Bussell. I could go for hours about this one. Makarova trimmed off a lot of fat and constructed a third act that give dramatic closure to the ballet. I think "Kingdom of the Shades" is one of the most beautiful pieces of pure ballet ever staged. The dancing throughout is terrific, but this was my first sight of Darcey Bussell and she thrilled me then and continues to every time I watch it.

steve keeley

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Plisetskaya Dances is my favorite video!

victoria

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My favorite video is Romeo and Juliet...The Royal Ballet's with Allesandra Ferri. I love that ballet and she just makes it wonderful. Prokofiev's music is beautiful to listen to. I wish my ballet studio had enough boys to be able to do that ballet for one of our performances but unfortunatly that isn't an option. Well I can't wait to hear from you all.

Hollyberry

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May I ask Steve Keeley where he bought his copy of La Bayadere by the Royal Ballet, with Asylmuratova, Mukhamedov, and Bussell?

The Royal Ballet's web site doesn't mention a shop. Does Bussell feature in any other videos? Are there any of her dancing with Guillem?

Thanks in advance for any answers, Ewan

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Ewan,

This probably won't be of much help to you, but I bought my copy of "La Bayadere" at Borders Books and Records. While you could do the same online at www.borders.com, this video is in NTSC format (North American), and wouldn't work on a U.K. television.

Other videos with Darcey (all NTSC) are:

"Prince of the Pagodas" RB w/Fiona Chadwick, Jonathan Cope and Anthony Dowell.

"Winter Dreams" RB w/Irek Mukhamedov, Viviana Durante, Anthony Dowell and Nicola Tranah

"Mayerling" RB w/ Darcey in a supporting role. The stars are Irek Mukhamedov and Viviana Durante.

"Gala Tribute to Tchaikovsky" RB and Royal Opera. Darcey and Zoltan Solymosi dance Balanchine's "Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux." Also includes duets by Durante & Sansom (Anastasia), Benjamin & Kumakawa (Nutcracker), and Collier & Mukhamedov (Sleeping Beauty).

"Balanchine Celebration Part II" NYCB. Darcey and Lindsay Fischer dance the "Agon" pas de deux.

Also, an unnamed and as yet unknown Darcey can be seen in the first part of Makarova's "Ballerina" series. (Not commercially available.) In part one there are scenes of various major ballet schools; in the shots at the Royal Ballet's school one can see an adorable teenaged Darcey at the barre.

~Steve

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Thanks for the Darcey Bussell videography, Steve. There are probably a lot of people who will find that useful.

Regarding compatibility of American/British formats, it might be possible to view these videos on a British television. I know that American videos can be viewed on Danish TV; there are occasional horizontal lines, and it's not perfect, but it's quite watchable. I'm not sure if the Danish and British are the same system, though. Perhaps some of our British readers would know, or have had some experience watching American videos?

(Unfortunately, it doesn't work the other way. I have to have the Danish videos converted; all you get is visual noise on American TV. Not fair!)

alexandra

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UK TV uses PAL, while American is NTSC. PAL has more lines per inch, or something . . . But most UK VCRs now include NTSC playback, and prices start at £100, so any UK reader planning on investing in a VCR would be advised to check for this extremely useful feature!

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Is there any way of going in the other direction....so that PAL videos can be seen on NTSC? (I have no idea what all those letters mean.) Any technology coming up in the future? There are many PAL videos that I'd dearly love to own.

Giannina

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Yes, Giannina, but it ain't cheap. There are now dual system VCRS available over here. I don't have one, but I understand they exist. BUT you have to have a converter (from European to American electric plug, which is cheap) AND I'm not sure, but you may have to have a European-capable TV. (Of course, you can buy a PAL VCR and TV and lots and lots of cables.)

alexandra

who doesn't know what the letters mean, either, except they're Eurpoean for BARRIER

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NTSC stands for National Television System Committee, the industry group that defined the standards for U.S. color television signals. The NTSC signal has its phase varied with the instantaneous hue of the color and the amplitude varied with the instantaneous saturation.

PAL stands for Phase Alteration Line. In the PAL signal, the subcarrier from the color burst is inverted in phase from one scanning line to the next.

These signals have several other differences, including the scanning rate.

~Steve the techie

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Going completely off-topic: Steve, over here NTSC is known as Never The Same Colour, due to the worse colour quality (fewer lines per inch).

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Dear Steve,

Thank you very much for the information on Darcey Bussell videos. I'm looking forward to building a collection around it.

I expect you've read her book: 'Life in Dance'. If not, I strongly recommend it, not least because she has an engaging honesty that makes one admire her all the more.

Luckily my VCR will play back an NTSC tape on a PAL set. To those of you in the States (and elsewhere) who can afford them, I understand Panasonic's 'One World' and Samsung's SV-4000W will play back any tape on any TV. The latter retails at around £1,000 ($1,660) here, though of course - if you're prepared to haggle - you can probably get it for far less.

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I had a terrific day today. It was my day off (I work every other weed-end so I get a day off in the week, each week).

Today I went to "La bibliothèque de la Danse" that's the "Library of Dance" at "l'École Supérieur de Danse du Québec" which is the official school affiliated with "Les Grands Ballets Canadiens". I went there because there was this answer to the quiz I could not find in my books at home...

The person responsable for the library is Vincent Warren. Vincent used to be principal with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, but he also teaches dance history and that is where I met him (I took this class at university just for the fun of it. And I LOVED IT.) Don't worry, Vincent only points me to the books I ask him for (it would be no fun anyway if the gave me the answers, I want to search for them!)

After my "homework" wink.gif was done, Vincent who knows me very well ("balletically" speaking) asked me if I had an hour to spare, went into his 500 videos collection and put a tape in...

It was "Une Étoile pour l'Exemple". Did you see that one Estelle? It's a one hour long documentary (by Dominique Delouche) where Yvette Chauvirée (in 1988, I think she was already in her seventies) teaches some of her great roles to principals of the Paris Opera Ballet: "Giselle" to Florence Clerc, "Ishtar" to Isabelle Guérin, "Grand Pas Classique" to Sylvie Guillem, "Les Deux Pigeons" to Marie-Claude Pietragalla, "The Dying Swan" to Dominique Khalfouni (I suppose she came from Marseille especially for this, but I know she is originally from POB) and, ... "Nautéus" to Monique Loudière. (I left what I feel is the best for the end! smile.gif)She was fabulous.

When that was over, I thought the tape was over but Vincent said to just wait and look: it was "Grand Pas Classique" with... who else but Monique Loudières and Manuel Legris in a gala performance in Vienna. What a day...

Dominique Delouche also did a film on Monique Loudières. It's an hour long, but I can't seem to be able to find it. Can anyone help me? I would be interested in buying new original copies of these two videos.

Margot

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Hi Margot,

I had heard about that documentary, but have never seen it. I only saw some

excerpts of the rehearsals with Pietragalla and Guerin.

(By the way, Khalfouni was a POB principal before joining Petit's company in Marseille, it was around 1981

so perhaps it was filmed before she left?)

Delouche made quite a lot of movies about dance (some about Nina Vyroubova, about Serge Peretti...) but unfortunatly seeing them isn't easy.

I saw two movies about Monique Loudieres: one called "Lueurs d'etoiles" filmed a few years ago (with excerpts of reharsals with Robbins, Dupond, Chauvire, Kylian, Vladimir Vassiliev...) and a more recent one

which was shown last year in the program "Musiques au coeur" (with fewer

rehearsals and more excerpts of ballets, for example from Robbins' "Dances

at a gathering"). Both films are really interesting.

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This may look stange to those of you who already know how much I love Monique Loudières, but the video I nominate as my favorite is not about her. (Maybe because I saw her dancing live quite a few times...) My choice would be: "He makes me feel like dancing". A 1983 video with Jacques d'Amboise and his dance program for the children of New York. It's a favorite of mine because of the energy, the passion for dance that just comes out of d'Amboise right through your television screen. Also because of the message it sends: that having contact with the arts in one's life is very important. It's hard work, but it's also a lot of fun. There is also of course the children. They look at him like a god, the worship him, the admire him and they love him, so they want to please, but in the end the please themselves and some of them give very surprisingly wise comments. And if anobody saw it, there is this scene where the parents are watching a rehearsal and the big, big smile on their faces with that father who says: "You want to join!"

It's not a video about ballet, but it's a video about the love of dance and I think it's a very important one and it should be shown again on television. (I have never seen it again since I taped it on television some fifteen years ago!)

Margot

[This message has been edited by Margot (edited 12-08-98).]

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There are quite a lot of videos that I like, so choosing is difficult...

Among my favorites:

-"Paris dances Diaghilev" by the POB, with Fokine's "Petrouchka" (with Loudieres, Guizerix and Mongne) and "Le Spectre de la rose" (with Legris and De Vulpian), Nijinsky's "Afternoon of a faun" (with Jude and Pietragalla) and Nijinska's "Les Noces" (with Platel,

Belarbi, Platel, Legree and Lormeau). Four great ballets, with some of my favorite dancers...

-"Swan Lake" by the POB, with Marie-Claude Pietragalla and Patrick Dupond. This is not the best choice of POB soloists in my opinion, and the sets of this

production are a bit odd, but the corps de ballet is so bright... I also like a "Swan Lake" by the Kirov, with Yulia Makhalina and Igor Zelensky- the sets and costumes are gorgeous, Zelensky is very good, the only problem is that I don't like Yulia Makhalina's performance at all!

-"Five Graham pieces" (sorry, it's not real ballet): five pieces ("El penitente", "Herodiade", "Steps in the street", "Diversion of angels", "Maple leaf rag") filmed at the POB with Christine Dakin, Terese Capuccilli, Kenneth Topping...

-Mats Ek's "Giselle" and "Swan Lake" by the Cullberg Ballet, with Ana Laguna and Yvan Auzely

-Jacques Garnier's "Aunis" with Kader Belarbi, Wilfried Romoli and Jean-Claude Ciappara

-Bournonville's "Napoli" by the Danish Royal Ballet with Arne Villumsen, and err, whatsername?

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Linda Hindberg. Not the ideal Teresina (too Russian), but OK. Villumsen's mad scene is one of the great scenes on video. I've shown it to every class I've ever taught. (They all like the shorts and can't believe it's from 1842. Well, in 1842 they wore tights under the shorts, but they still wore the shorts. Shocked 'em back then, too.)

I was watching that the other night, and couldn't help but cry. All those dancers are gone now (and not because they're too old) and it's unlikely you'll see a Napoli Act III and/or tarantella like that again.

To Someone who wrote me not knowing who Arne Villumsen and Lis Jeppesen were, they were the Danes leading couple in the 1980s and early '90s and were wonderful dancers. Villumsen stars in this Napoli video (which I think has been pulled off the market; copyright rental period expired, or something) and Lis Jeppesen dances the girl-with-the-purple-trimmed-skirt in the third act.

alexandra

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Hi Alexandra,

you wrote "all those dancers are gone now"- could you explain what happened? Did they

retire, or did they join another company?

I saw that video on the French TV (a few years ago, the French channel TF1, whose programs usually are not cultural at all,

broadcasted for some unknown reasons- perhaps compulsory quotas?- some ballets around 2 or 3 AM, so lucky well-informed people with a VCR and *long* tapes (because the ballets usually were shown late)

could see treasures such as "Napoli", the NYCB Balanchine Celebration, Baryschnikov in "La sonnambula" and "Who Cares", etc.)

but as far as I know it never was commercially available in France. And I've never seen any other video with the Royal Danish Ballet (nor anything else

by Bournonville... Pity the POB hasn't danced anything by Bournonville

for years, by the way!)

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My serious favourite is Alvin Ailey's 'Revelations', which I play when feeling really good and on top of the world. However it's one I would never lend to anyone who hadn't seen 'Revelations' on stage, if there was the faintest chance they ever might - I think one's first sight of it should come as a lovely surprise!

Less seriously, the one I watch for light relief is the first of Carla Fracci's Great Ballerinas tapes. Apart from Fracci herself it features Peter Ustinov as Gautier mooning about in the ruins of the Paris Opera and giving a connecting commentary which you don't need to know much Italian to understand; and the best bit is the great Vassiliev going from the ridiculous to the sublime as Lucien Petipa - first crawling around pretending to be a dog, and then giving the most wonderful performance as Albrecht.

Could we maybe have a thread called 'Video Wish list', of videos that don't exist but ought to? There was a programme shown on BBC television called 'Class' (I think) which was just that - a class taken by Peter Wright and including Dowell, Seymour, Park and Gable. I'd pay serious money for that - it was repeated once but it was before I had a video.

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I'm in the middle of a video "Nutcracker" fest. Over the years I've been Nutcracker-ed to death, but it is Christmas and it's the only time I'm willing to watch it much more enjoy it. I started with NYCB; last night I watched ABT, Pacific Nortwest, and by the time I got to POB I was nodding off and my husband had given up altogether and left the room! I have Kirov ready to go.

I've yet to see a mice-scene I like, and the sparring kids wear thin after the first few moments. NYCB has Kistler and Nichols; hard to beat that; however there is no point work at all in the first act and I find that dull. (I wish I had seen NYCB's version performed live often enough to be able to enjoy the fun the cast has in its final performances when, I understand, they goof off unashamedly.) Pacific Northwest's adaptation is a bit eerie and the choreography lacks. POB offers POB, which is almost enough in itself. To me ABT holds up the best. I know the story line is altered and cause for comment, but the dancing is superb. Radiant, joyous Gelsey Kirkland at her best; hammy Baryshnikov at his best; a line-up of ABT soloists (most, if not all, of them now retired) dancing like a million bucks; point work throughout: all of these factors make this my favorite video "Nutcracker".

But, as I said, I still have the Russians to go.

Giannina

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Giannina, NOT that it's out as a video mind you, but since you are on a Nutcracker overdose already; before Hartford Ballet's management went ballistic last year and trashed the company, Kirk Peterson choreographed a new "American Nutcracker" that was VERY VERY special. I'm not a fan of Nutcracker per se, but this was different and so beautifully done by a small city ballet company that it will be a great shame if it is not done again somewhere.

Peterson put the ballet's setting in Yosemite Valley and it involves a fictional meeting between important historical figures at the time of the 1849 gold rush or shortly thereafter. Instead of Clara you've got Lotta Crabtree (renowned actress), and there are figures such as the actor Junius Booth (father of John Wilkes and Edwin Booth), Levi Strauss, a magician Herrmann the Great, Mark Twain etc... !! Sandra Woodall (SF bay area ballet connection as I'm sure you are aware) did the decor and costumes which are all different from the usual Nutcracker. The kids are butterflies , moths, etc, a giant spider comes down on wires (great!, now that doesn't happen anymore except at POB apparently) and there are grasshopper soldiers etc. Sandra's costumes are works of art! Mother Ginger is turned into a giant Queen Bee with all her honeybees and butterflies and sunflower children. The Christmas tree is a giant sequoia.

It's different!! yet the same. I think it is a wonderful new presentation of a very nice Christmas story which is getting too familiar to be that interesting anymore (except for kids or the young at heart it is always interesting I think).

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Hello,

There is one particular video, which is not necessarily my favourite, but which I have really liked seeing. Before Karen Kain retired as a principal with the National Ballet of Canada, the then-choreographer-now-artistic-director (after Reid Anderson left for Stuttgart) James Kudelka choreographed a ballet, "The Actress" for her, on the 24 Preludes by Chopin. Chopin is definitively one of my favourite composers, Kain is most certainly one of my favourite dancers and Kudelka's stuff can be quite neat (I hear he got good reviews for the ballet the NBC presented recently in London, am I right?.) The whole thing fitted quite nicely together. The video is a "making of", but there are a number of full-length sections from the premiere. The story of the ballet is based on an aging actress' life, each Prelude composes a tableau: there are meetings with an old lover, young admirers, failed seduction scenes etc... The video shows part of both the creative and the practical work, and I find that Kain, whose musicality and acting abilities have always been exceptional, fits the role perfectly. A good piece of ballet entertainment.

Celia

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I'm not very discerning when it comes to ballet videos- I always get absorbed in the storyline, sets and costumes so i don't have time to get niggly about the dancing! (apart from Cinderella, with the POB.. I just couldn't finish it! Of course I marvelled at Sylvie's feet and legs- she's just beyond stunning! But the production as a whole, I think was pretty shoddy).

However I do have a few favourites... but you also have to consider I haven't seen more than two or three of the videos mentioned by everyone else! They are just impossible to get here in Australia.

So.. here are my favorites, in no particular order.

ABT "Nutcracker'. This is the only time I've seen Gelsey Kirkland dancing and I think she's just the most precious dancer. She looks too young to be able to dance so well! Although the sets and costumes can be a bit of a pastel nightmare (nightmare in a good way though!) I think this is the best version of the Nutcracker that I've seen!

La Scala Ballet's "Giselle" I don't know if I like this so much just because Alessandra Ferri is so pretty...shes such a fragile dancer I couldn't help like her. And the rest of the production... wow! I'm not sure who played her, but Myrtha in this is just so spot on she sent chills down my spine.

Although I didn't like their Cinderella, I thought POB's Hunchback of Notre Dame was really good- totally unlike anything else I've seen. Not sure of spelling, but Isabella Guerin was Esmarelda... wow! those legs and feet! Is it something in the water over there??? I've not seen a dancer from there without those amazing sway-back legs and perfect feet.

on a local front, Manon by the Australian Ballet was lovely. Justine Summers is just perfect as the lead... Other Australian Ballet vids I love are: Spartacus and Merry Widow... both with Steven Heathcote and Lisa Pavane in the leads.. they are both fantastic examples of the Aus Ballets work- as well as a once only tv special by Meryl Tankard called "the Deep End" it has to be seen to be believed! Its set at a pool.. and just the way she uses the dancers bodies. It is perfect to show off their youthful exuberance! Every one of my friends that I've shown it to have said "wow! I really enjoyed that! I didnt know ballet could be so cool!"

-Katharyn

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