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What's your favorite ballet video?

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#16 Estelle


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Posted 07 December 1998 - 09:34 AM

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.

#17 Margot



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Posted 07 December 1998 - 02:18 PM

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!)


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

#18 Estelle


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Posted 08 December 1998 - 07:56 AM

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?

#19 Alexandra


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Posted 08 December 1998 - 10:32 AM

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.


#20 Estelle


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Posted 10 December 1998 - 07:52 AM

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!)

#21 Jane Simpson

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Posted 10 December 1998 - 12:44 PM

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.

#22 Giannina


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Posted 19 December 1998 - 10:47 AM

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.


#23 Paul W

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Posted 19 December 1998 - 03:46 PM

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).

#24 Celia Yves

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Posted 19 December 1998 - 08:08 PM

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.

#25 Katharyn



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Posted 27 December 1998 - 03:35 AM

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!"

#26 dirac


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Posted 01 January 1999 - 01:42 AM

My remarks on the topic of ballet videos are somewhat more general. I think that smaller scale "chamber ballets" -- I'm thinking of Balanchine's "Davidsbundlertanze" come across on the small screen much better than the bigger, more "symphonic" ballets. I have also noticed that ballet videos seem to go through periods of availability at my local store, and then are suddenly gone. I missed purchasing the Asylmuratova Bayadere and the Mukhamedov/Durante Mayerling a few years ago and have never stopped kicking myself. They haven't shown up since.

#27 Giannina


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Posted 01 January 1999 - 02:52 PM

For Xmas hubby gave me a host of VCR ballet tapes, bless him. May I heartily recommend "Marinsky Theatre Kirov Classics". Filmed in 1991 it is, first of all, a study in how to film ballet. Granted there are a few pesty close-ups, but "few" is the operative word. The ballets are filmed with the dancers in the center of the frame, as close as you can get to them without cutting them off. There are distant shots when the corps is featured, and sometimes just for the heck of it, but the majority of the time you have the featured performer(s) dead center.
The tape starts with "Chopiniana" starring, among others, the glorious Asylmuratova. She has a solo which is ballet at its upmost. There are times when you see a ballerina dancing to perfection but you are still on the edge of your seat wondering if she's going to be able to sustain the quality. Asylmuratova here is dancing perfection personified, and is so controlled and confident that you can sit back and let the dance engulf you. Breathtaking. Pankova also dances beautifully, tho she tended to lean back on point in her supported arabesques. Polikarpova is a tad unsteady yet beautiful in her slow, sustained Prelude. The 2nd offering is Vikharev in "Petrushka" which I had already seen/taped and I therefore fast-forwarded thru it. This is a very unusual "Petrushka" with Vikharev's dancing resembling a woman's technique. "Barber's Adagio" was the weak point of the tape. The dancing is strained, resembling gymnatics and contortions rather than ballet. I found myself eager for it to end. Next was "Le Corsaire Pas de Deux". I don't know about you but every time I think of this offering I tend to forget that there's a lovely ballerina's role, not just a guy with a feather coming out of the center of his head. Kunakova danced well; her fouettes did not thrill me but then few do and the step is grossly over-rated. Ruzimatov was his usual dazzling self tho he does sickle his foot when it's in passe position (oh, dear; this is when my lack of ballet terminology kills me. By "passe" I mean when the working foot is brought to the standing leg's knee; the working knee is completely turned out.) "The Fairy Doll", which I had never seen, is a very nice piece of fluff. The opening pas de trois didn't thrill me, but from then on the dancing is great. There is a particularly good duet for the 2 men/clowns. "Markitenka" was discribed as a "pas de six of exuberant dancing" and I moaned, "Lordy!" But it was wonderful! I've heard that the Russians tend to ignore tight 5th positions, but there were instances of the group coming to terrific 1st and 5th position landings and finishes. The tape ended with "Pacquita". Great dancing throughout led by Makhalina. Of interest to me: on one of the ballerina's pirouettes in passe position (see above) her foot extended beyond the knee, which I was taught was a no-no, yet it looked very pretty. One thing I have noticed of late (and Olivier, I'd like your comment on this): when men prepare for a double tour en l'air their feet make almost a quarter turn on the ground before they actually start their leap. The dancer on this tape barely showed an 1/8th turn in preparation, tho no preparatory turn at all would be preferable, right?
As I watched this tape I kept telling hubby that it alone was worth the money he spent on all the tapes he bought for me. That made him happy; he has a heck of a time selecting my tapes.

Happy New year everyone!


[This message has been edited by Giannina Mooney (edited 01-01-99).]

#28 Olivier



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Posted 02 January 1999 - 02:42 AM

Yes Giannina, no rotation during the preparation, and a perfectly clean fifth position is the best...tecnicaly speaking.
I have personaly never seen a "perfect" double tour en l'air (on tape or live).
You have to see and judge what is attractive to you...if the absence of rotation in the preparation makes you go 'woaw !', and makes you appreciate the dancer, then all I can say is 'Great !'...What you can also look for is the position in the air during the tour, and the landing...
But remember also that double tours can be really tricky since there are a lot of different ways to execute them...some lands in fourth position, some to the knee, some are left and some are right, some changing feet and some without. And like anybody dancers have preferences...righty or lefty...most dancers like double tours changing feet better than without changing feet (which makes the ones without changing more challenging for them).

Well, I guess i'll need to go and work on mine, since PNB's performances at Sadler's Wells in London will be broadcast by the BBC.

[This message has been edited by Olivier (edited 01-02-99).]

#29 Giannina


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Posted 02 January 1999 - 03:20 PM

Thanks, Olivier.


#30 Mel Johnson

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Posted 16 January 1999 - 06:06 PM

Hi Again Giannina - I just got the video you mention of the Kirov. I wondered what "Markitenka" was, too, until I saw it - thought it looked familiar - looked up the word - it's "La Vivandiere"! And a sunnily danced version, at that! The Joffrey did a version of it staged from St.-Leon's notation, as interpreted by Maria Grandy. I also got a big kick out of the "Paquita" grand pas, no matter where the variations come from!
(A later addition - this post set me up perfectly to go in and turn on that wonderful little pas de six and watch it and watch it and watch it over and over again! Death by Vivandiere Overdose! Posted Image)

[This message has been edited by Mel Johnson (edited 01-16-99).]

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