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Kirov Celebrates Nijinsky


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#31 EricMontreal22

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Posted 22 January 2009 - 06:37 AM

I've just watched this DVD for the third time, and foudn this thread, so apologies for bumping it.

First of all, I definetly think it's worth the price (especially as I found it four $8 Canadian). Most of my ballet DVDs are the transfers from 80s and 70s videos, and it's incredibly exciting to have this in such high quality both image and score wise (5.1!). The only two of these dances I already knew well were the shorter two; Spectre and Polovstian Dances. In both cases I was pleasantly surprised--Spectre is a dance that's always *bored* me, and I've been afraid to admit it. I never got the appeal--even what the appeal would have been in 1910, Nijinsky's leaps aside. But this time I actually got "into" it and it was largely due to Ayupova's great "waking dream" performance. I think I still have trouble getting past the music which always makes me think of endless family dinners at my grandma's...

Polovstian Dances was *fantastic*. I had forgotten how exciting Fokine's choreography, particularly the male work (and had half forgotten how gorgeous Borodin's music is). I've always been curious as to what Lev Ivanov's original choreography for this must have been like (very different I imagine), but after watching this DVD segment, I don't care. :dry: The filming didn't bother me too much except, as others said, the times they focused on the singing chorus--which weren't often but, surreally, seemed to have every time just when a virtuoso move or combination was being performed. Argh.

As for the longer ballets... I've read about Sheherazade, and seen pictures, ever since I started looking through the library's ballet books as a kid. My parents had a print of one of the costume designs in our living room. And as a kid I was OBSESSED with Rimsky Korsakov's orchestral piece. On the other hand, just a little while ago I had read an old Denby review of the piece saying it had become one of the worse ballets to see in any production and should be retired. I admit it took a little while for me to get "involved"--as Fokine pieces often do. But I was impressed with how much intensity it ended up being danced with. Someone in this thread complained it wasn't sexy--but I was actually pretty shocked imagining some of the dancing and scenes being performed for 1910 Paris.

I think Zakharova was fine in the role, but I admit I don't know too much about the recent Kirov stars and have never seen anyone else in the role. Yet, for me the role works with someone who's cold--the character feels cold and conniving despite her love and passion for the Slave which causes her ultimate sacrifice--that's the surprise in the character for me. Everything else--lieing to the Sultan, getting the keys, feels a bit conniving and it worked. I do agree though with whoever said, even by ballerina standards she's maybe a bit too thin for that outfit...

It used basically the original designs, right? I ask because pictures of the Ballet Russes productions show a LOT more details in the set. Then again I bet they were taken with all the stage lights on...

Firebird was what I was most looking forward to--and while, once again it took me maybe 10 minutes to really get involved--I wasn't disappointed. I actually had never seen a production of the Fokine version before, but knew several others (Balanchine, Robbins) and being a Stravinsky nut I knew several of his versions of the score as well. I thought it was *terrific*. Beautiful production (were these the close to the 1910 designs? Some of it looked like old pictures, other bits like the Firebird's outfit didn't), and amazing to see how right Fokine's style suits the music. As for the cast--again maybe they could have cast a better Firebird since those of you who have seen other dancers in the role prefer them. I thought Vishneva was great--I liked how cold and proud and intense she kept the bird at every time--even when she was captured it made sense to me. I thought some elements--like the wall of stone knights and the tree--worked better than I'd seen before, and Yakovlev was admirable and handsome in a fairly thankless role (he wins points for not making that costume look silly).

Anyway, even though I'm much more of a newbie to these productions and dancers, and I guess most on here feel it *could have been better*, I'm a bit surrpised by the mixed to negative comments on here. It's especially great to have considering how hard it is, surprisingly, to find Diaghilev work on DVD--and I enjoy it much more than the Return of the Firebird disc with all its intrusive, to me, film elements.

A few caveats--the title obviously is trading on Nijinsky's name, but was he even known for roles in Firebird and Polovstian Dances? The Slave and Spectre, were of course synonymous with him. I guess Fokine's name is thought not to sell as many copies. Still when I saw Nijinsky in the title I expected maybe Apres Midi or the Kirov's reconstruction of Sacre, or Petrushka...

Also, yeah some of the camera work is *awful*. But... Most ballet visual recordings have at least some bad camera work--this one evens out for me as more good than bad. Yes there are a few too many close ups and weird angles (though at times I welcomed the closeups--like some shots of Vishneva and her intense Firebird eyes), but I think it's balanced out with enough full stage shots (something that seem to be rarer and rarer in modern dance recordings--sadly) that I felt I got a sense of the choreography, and stage, and only had a few frustrating moments of shouting for them to cut to a different shot.

#32 puppytreats

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 09:30 AM

Is "Sheherezade" always danced without pointe shoes?

I don't know if the camera angles are to blame, but this production seemed very sloppy.

#33 Mel Johnson

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Posted 16 December 2011 - 10:26 AM

Yes.


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