BalletNut

Kirov Celebrates Nijinsky

33 posts in this topic

I was wondering if anyone has this DVD, and what they think about it. It has Scheherezade, Le Spectre De La Rose, Polovtsian Dances, and Firebird. I am considering getting it, but want to make sure it'll be worth it.

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BalletNut, this programme was filmed in Paris on a tour in 2002 and one gets well filmed and well-sounding (even though it is Mikhail Agrest who conducts) performances of the Fokine ballets, even if I find most of them miscast. Also "Scheherazade" is not complete - the whole orchestral ouverture has sadly been edited... But since there is not much choice when it comes to recent Kirov Ballet on dvd, you might still consider buying it.

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I just got this one, and I agree with Marc -- For Ayupova fans, she dances the Young Girl in Spectre, and is the first I've ever seen in the part that made me understand what Karsaviina might have been like (i.e., she's not a prop).. However, the choreography is.....perhaps not what we are used to. These stagings are Isabelle Fokine (except for Polovotsian dances, I write without checking the box!) But it is a good chance to see the current Kirov stars.

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I'll agree with Marc & the others re. serious miscasting on most fronts. Scheherazade, for example. How many times does Zakharova pose for or smile at the camera, rather than perform Zobeide's right chor'phy? And what about the Golden Slave -- at first I didn't recognize the 'ham' with the slicked-back hair...then was shocked to read Farouk Ruzimatov's name with the credits!

Worst of all is the poor camerawork...caring more about close-ups & 'artsy-fartsy' angles than giving us the full choreography. It is downright criminal to not use a full-stage shot for climax of the 'orgy' dance in 'Sheherazade'...this film misses Fokine's magnificent final 'circles' of dancing, just before the men return from the hunt!!! Ditto the big-crowd scenes of 'Firebird.' 'Polovetsian' was a bit better -- magnificently danced -- but, again, we need more stage-overview shots to capture the full impact of Fokine's patterns. Strangely, the best-filmed Polovetsian Dances happened at the St. Petersburg-300 telecast (both the indoor & outdoor concerts); this is weak-tea, compared to those two.

The camerawork for 'Spectre' is the best. It's hard to botch a ballet with only two dancers!

It's a shame that Irma Nioradze's seminal portrayal of the Firebird -- surprise! this is truly HER role! -- was not filmed, with all due respect to my beloved Diana V.

I give this DVD a C+...maybe B -.

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Well I enjoyed the dvd a lot. The prime reason being Diana Vishneva's Firebird. I've seen three Firebirds on video, and only Diana IMO remembers the "fire" in Firebird. From the moment she flutters onstage, it's like Maya Plisetskaya in Dying Swan -- my eyes were transfixed. The sharp, even dissonant music suits Diana like a glove -- she looks as if she were born to dance the Firebird. Karsavina would be proud, considering how tirelessly she worked to coach younger ballerinas in this part.

Spectre was great, until Kolb's jump. To me he paused a bit too long, "prepared" his leap too carefully, and the magic spell was broken.

I enjoyed Zakharova in Scherherazade. She is a bit of a "cold" ballerina, and strangely unable to convey real sensuality beyond the "vavavoom" type. But the remarkable plasticity of her body were a sight. Farukh I also thought was excellent, although I find Scherherazade a pretty weak piece.

And the Polotsivian Dances was also very entertaining.

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Well, I ordered a copy (through the Amazon link on this site :speechless-smiley-003: ), so I'll see how it goes. Thanks for the replies.

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Well, I ordered a copy (through the Amazon link on this site  :) ), so I'll see how it goes. Thanks for the replies.

BalletNut,

I hope you enjoy this. I did. I think part of the comments are connected to what you relate to. If you are looking for a version of these four pieces as you would see them in the theater, then you may be disappointed, a lot of the camera work is close up or at medium distance. There is some, enough for me, long shots to see the piece as a whole.

Also if you are a purist, you may have a problem. I'm pretty philosophical in this regard, personally I think it's hard to really be convinced that the choreography of pieces even as recent as the Fokine ones are truly exact images of the original.

Overall my favorite was the Firebird, I really enjoyed the dancing, the set, costumes, and yes the camera work also. I loved Vishneva in this; I'm hoping she's still in the Stars of the 21st Century gala in NYC next Monday

There is also another fairly recent release on DVD, the Return of the Firebird. This is much more an Andris Liepa thing (he's credited on the Kirov/Nijinsky thing, but he's much more a part of this)

But this is even further from a documentation of a stage performance. It is extremely opened up for filming, and is almost overwhelmed by the camera work and the overpowering feeling of decadence and perfume, particularly Sheherazade. This is almost like a crossover version. The program here is different in that it's Petroushka, Firebird and Sheherazade.

And some people I know that are not particularly interested in ballet found this fascinating. But it's not for ballet purists, I think you also have to be a film fan for this. But I like a lot of the classic silent films (think Douglas Fairbanks in the silent Thief of Bagdad) and so I enjoyed this also.

Richard

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The (mis)casting on this DVD (as Natalia also pointed out) becomes an issue as soon as you have seen several different performers in these Kirov productions before. When this is your first glance of these productions, it won't matter that much.

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I just reviewed this dvd for Amazon.

I dont see which ballet is "miscast." Certainly Diana Vishneva isnt miscast. And Zakharova's style and persona may not be to everyone's liking, but I wouldnt call it miscasting either.

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I dont see which ballet is "miscast." Certainly Diana Vishneva isnt miscast. And Zakharova's style and persona may not be to everyone's liking, but I wouldnt call it miscasting either.

What other Kirov dancers have you seen in these productions, canbelto?

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Well I havent seen the Kirov per se, but I have seen all these ballets danced by other companies. The only dancer I'd say was "miscast" was Igor Kolb, who doesnt have the effortless, superhuman elevation for Spectre.

But I find it interesting that the Kirov puts out its first video in like, 10 years, and everyone poo-poos it :)

Besides, I think it's sort of rude to imply that if you enjoyed this video, you were obviously inexperienced and hadnt seen tons and tons of Kirov dancers. First impressions are also important, and I;m certainly one to call a spade a spade if I dont like something. I also have a big collection of ballet videos, go to the ballet whenever I can, and am not a newbie Pollyanna who "adores" everything.

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Well I havent seen the Kirov per se, but I have seen all these ballets danced by other companies. The only dancer I'd say was "miscast" was Igor Kolb, who doesnt have the effortless, superhuman elevation for Spectre.

But I find it interesting that the Kirov puts out its first video in like, 10 years, and everyone poo-poos it  :)

Besides, I think it's sort of rude to imply that if you enjoyed this video, you were obviously inexperienced and hadnt seen tons and tons of Kirov dancers. First impressions are also important, and I;m certainly one to call a spade a spade if I dont like something. I also have a big collection of ballet videos, go to the ballet whenever I can, and am not a newbie Pollyanna who "adores" everything.

Canbelto, we are only considering the Kirov Ballet here, and the way the company dances these ballets is different from others. But no need to get offended, my point is that if you see only one cast, you can hardly be expected to know what others might make of it. A fine looking performance might suddenly become less interesting when compared with other casts. And that’s basically what’s frustrating about this release. Other casts revealed a whole lot more of the roles than the ones now featured on this DVD. Natalia gave some examples. I could add Asylmuratova, Lopatkina or Nioradze as Zobeide, and Tsiskaridze as the Golden Slave, or again Asylmuratova or Nioradze in the Firebird. It’s great to have the Mariinsky on film finally after ten years, but it’s nonetheless a shame we’re stuck with mainly the wrong people.

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But that's entirely the trouble with the Kirov now! We are stuck with the same half dozen wrong people!!

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But that's entirely the trouble with the Kirov now!  We are stuck with the same half dozen wrong people!!

Absolutely. I can see it now. The Kirov Management received this opportunity to do a rare DVD...the first made-for-DVD Kirov Ballet production, if I'm not mistaken (rather than a video-into-DVD reissue). They see it as the rare opportunity to showcase their 'star ballerinas' come hell of highwater, regardless of proper 'fit.'

Vishneva is a wonderful Aurora and Giselle -- and 'angel' type -- but she would never make my list of top-5 current Kirov dancers in the menacing-mysterious role of the Firebird! #1 - NIORADZE, absolute perfection with her quirky sort of beauty. #2 - Julia Makhalina (also magnificent & majestic'). #3 - Tatyana Amosova (an amazon in flight!) #4 - Daria Pavlenko (talk about a menacing glare!)#5 - Tatiana Serova.

Ruzimatov as the Golden Slave now, in 2005 (or 2002, when this was filmed)? Give me a break! Korsuntsev, Kuznetsov, Scherbakov...anyone of these would have been 100-times more effective. But, of course, the name 'Ruzimatov' sells DVDs.

Kolb - wonderul technique but lightweight. Ayupova - hmmm...lovely but not convincing as a 'girl' whose just attended her first ball. Sorry - that's the truth. [However, I agree with Alexandra that it's nice just to have something -- anything -- of her on film/DVD.]

The only perfectly-cast ballet on this DVD &, for me, the main reason to buy it, is 'Polovetsian Dances.' (despite the numerable shots of choristers when great dancing takes place!) ISLOM BAIMURATOV, POLINA RASSADINA, ELENA BZHENOVA, GALINA RAKHMANOVA (next to Bazhenova, in Slave Girl sections)...those amazing Kirov 'warrior hunks' (male corps)....they're the best elements of this DVD!

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I cannot help but notice these ballets are discussed only in terms of the main gal or guy, as if the larger ensemble is irrelevant.

I just saw the Kirov on stage in, among other things, l'Oiseau (with Nioradze) and frankly the corps was no great shakes - just a second rate company.

I'm wondering whether this obsession with the principals isn't actually contributing to the gradual, irrevocable sinking of the company.

I haven't seen the dvd; I might get it for the Spectre. But I have to say after the last couple of shows I have seen between 2000 and now, I just can't see any justification for the hoopla over the Kirov Ballet.

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The (mis)casting on this DVD (as Natalia also pointed out) becomes an issue as soon as you have seen several different performers in these Kirov productions before. When this is your first glance of these productions, it won't matter that much.

Well. I have seen many , many performances of different genres of performing arts.

I will admit that I haven't seen that much of the Kirov.

But I find in general that casting according to "spec" is often very limiting, narrowing down options.

There as been much of what has been called "miscasting" in opera, ballet, and theater that has surprisingly "worked". Of course, it can also fail miserably.

If you don't take risks, you limit your horizons.

Would Gelsey Kirkland have been thought a natural for Balanchine's Firebird?

I don't think so, but eventually, after struggling with it for a while, I thought she evolved it into an amazing performance.

Now Balanchine's version was certainly different from Fokine's. Stravinsky was said to like Balanchine's version more. But there was much synergy between the two men.

I think part of this whole discussion is is that people tend (myself included!) to have very strong opinions about their preferences in casting, this is a mix of subjective and objective components .

Richard

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Not to mention, would Margot Fonteyn be thought a "natural" Firebird?

And specific to the Kirov, was Altynai Asylmuratova a "natural" Aurora?

I think miscasting is miscasting when clearly the dancer is unfit for the role. Like, can't dance the steps. Or is personally so wrong that it becomes overwhelming.

Otherwise, if a dancer can make something new of the role, put a personal stamp on it, even if he/she isnt "stereotypical", I think that's part of the joys of ballet.

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Otherwise, if a dancer can make something new of the role, put a personal stamp on it, even if he/she isnt "stereotypical", I think that's part of the joys of ballet.

Exactly, that's why this DVD is so disappointing. The casts make nothing new of the roles.

Herman, if you are thinking about the Kirov performances in Amsterdam in previous years (RAI, Carré) than I have to agree with you that overall there was nothing much to write home about. Yet this is something that has become part of their touring regime - not every place is considered as important to give their very best, and I am afraid that Amsterdam is just one of those places.

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Otherwise, if a dancer can make something new of the role, put a personal stamp on it, even if he/she isnt "stereotypical", I think that's part of the joys of ballet.

Exactly, that's why this DVD is so disappointing. The casts make nothing new of the roles.

But Marc, this is really two different issues. I agree that any performance is a disappointment if the performer(s) don't put a personal stamp on it.

But this can occur with casting by type as well as casting against type.

I would rather see a "miscast" dancer take a role and make it their own rather than one cast according to specs that adds nothing personal or new.

richard

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Not to mention, would Margot Fonteyn be thought a "natural" Firebird?

....

I was thinking exactly such, as I write my bits yesterday. BUT....Fonteyn had the greatest coach imaginable in that role: Tamara Karsavina, the original Firebird herself!

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I was thinking exactly such, as I write my bits yesterday.  BUT....Fonteyn had the greatest coach imaginable in that role:  Tamara Karsavina, the original Firebird herself!

Well, coaching IMO only goes so far. For instance Svetlana Zakharova, Galina Mezentseva, and Altynai Asylmuratova were all coached by Olga Moiseva, but they're very different ballerinas.

I also agree with Richard53dog that there's a difference between "casting against type" and "miscasting." To stick to Fokine, MISCAST I'd say would be Mikhail Baryshnikov as the Spectre. His blond, wholesome persona looks awful as the dreamy Spectre, and there's way too much blatant showboating to make this piece work. Herman Cornejo was perhaps cast against type in Spectre -- after all, Herman is also known for his puckish grin and boyish persona. But he made the Spectre unforgettable, and brought out the very best in Xiomara Reyes.

But in the case of this video, I really failed to see either casting against type or miscasting. No one looked instinctively "wrong" here. If they failed to be as memorable as past Kirov interpreters, that;s: 1. dancing badly, or 2. being new to the roles (and thus not as comfortable).

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[snip] Someone close to the company says many performances in St. P are now danced by the ensemble "with indifference."

Edited by hockeyfan228

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Herman, if you are thinking about the Kirov performances in Amsterdam in previous years (RAI, Carré) than I have to agree with you that overall there was nothing much to write home about.  Yet this is something that has become part of their touring regime - not every place is considered as important to give their very best, and I am afraid that Amsterdam is just one of those places.

I'm afraid Washington, D.C. is another "one of those places." The Kirov corps here, in Swan Lake or in Shades, for example, has been up to Kirov standard, but not, for the most part, the soloists, the recent gala here being a screaming example of that. And this does no honor to the Kirov, if they think it makes them "cool" to show such disrespect to a city, whether it's Amsterdam or D.C. or Podunk, Alaska. (Not meaning to imply that anyone said otherwise!)

The DVD goes to all cities, though, and I don't think it shows either the company or the ballets at their best. (But I'm still not sorry I bought it :angry2: )

Edited by Alexandra

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I have just watched the DVD as well... Since I haven't seen any other Kirov dancers in these ballets, I can't really compare, but still, I thought that the video was definitely worth having.

In Sheherazade, Zakharova's lines were gorgeous. Perhaps it was not THE "warmest" dance, but it was really enjoyable to watch. In 'Spectre', Kolb had a nice, sweet "aroma".

I just wish more videos would be published!

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Well, my copy arrived a few days ago, but I only found time to post about it now, so here goes.

Sheherazade:I thought the costumes and lighting were gorgeous, but I have a feeling that this ballet is supposed to be sexy, and I didn't get that from this performance at all, except from the three harem dancers; the rest of the cast looked too proper, restrained, and virginal to be convincing in the choreography, which I could still tell was first-rate. Zakharova looked particularly miscast in this, in my opinion. First of all, it doesn't seem to fit her temperament at all, she's too "cold" for it; secondly, it really doesn't look good for a dancer as painfully thin as she is to be wearing a bare midriff. :beg: Ruzimatov may have been good in this five or ten years ago, but he wasn't at his best when this was filmed. And I would have liked some clarification, perhaps in the liner notes, of what the story was in this ballet, if there was one. However, the score is wonderful.

Le Spectre De La Rose: This was very well-danced, very pretty. Kolb gives quite a different interpretation of this from Baryshnikov or Legris, but it's equally good. He's more lyrical than pyrotechnical, and has very nice lines. Ayupova is a lovely dancer, very delicate and feminine and innocent, so this is also a good role for her. I'm not sure I like the shiny fabric on her costume; I prefer it to be more matte, more lacy, but that's a nitpick. The orchestra sounded kind of sluggish.

Polovtsian Dances: The first way for me to describe this ballet is "over the top." The second is to say that, for some reason, it reminds me of the Mike Myers SNL sketch "Lothar of the Hill People," for some reason. All snarking aside, I really enjoyed the choreography; Rassadina has such beautiful, expressive arms and hands, and Baimuradov is very powerful technically. My main beef with this one is the camera work; the photographers would cut over to the chorus during the most virtuoso, climactic passages. What the bleep were they thinking? :) If the cameras had stayed on the dancers, I'd have liked this a lot more.

Firebird: I'm used to the Gontcharova [spelling?] designs for the Royal Ballet, so the designs for this production took a little bit of getting used to, and I still prefer the Royal's designs, but the Kirov designs are actually still quite nice. Vishneva is a very good Firebird. Yes, there are probably several dancers who would have been even better, but there are also dancers who could have been much worse. Be that as it may, Vishneva is very easy on the eye, and has the warmth in her dancing that Zakharova lacked in Sheherazade. Yakovlev, as Ivan, was perfectly adequate, but the role really isn't much of a showcase for a male dancer. Serebriakova was a very sweet, pretty, innocent princess. Ponomarev as Kotchei [spelling?] gave me the creeps, which, given the nature of the character, must mean he did a pretty good job. Overall, not bad.

So, this isn't the world's best ballet DVD, but it could be worse, and since there really aren't many recordings available of Sheherazade and Polovtsian Dances, it's worth having for that, and the other two, which have been filmed in other productions before, are well worth watching. Plus it's not that expensive; I paid $15 for it on Amazon.

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