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Roach

Question About Bolshoi 1989 Swan Lake W/ Alla Mikhalchenko

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Hi all,

first of all, forgive me if I'm posting in the wrong forum. I see there is a Q&A forum as well but this one looked more appropriate for my question. If not, I'll gladly repost in the appropriate forum.

I'm still fairly new to ballet, but I'm in love with it. I've watched Swan Lake more times in the past 4 months than is sane. I have a question about a particular performance; 1989 Swan Lake by the Bolshoi with Alla Mikhalchenko. Because I'm still learning about this classic art form, I'm not sure about all that is going on in the performance. I've been researching to learn more about the terminology, the dancers, their roles, and various other things as I can find them. One thing that has bothered me is that i can't match all the performer's names in the end credit roll with the actuall roles they played. Most are obvious like Odette/Odille, Von Rothbart, Prince Sigfried, etc . . . that is, if you know more about the ballets than me. For instance, there is a dancer credited for being part of a pas de trois; her name is Tatyana Bessmertnova. From what I could dig up, she is related (sister?) to Natalia Bessmertnova. However, I'm not sure I've identified the correct part of the performance as the pas de trois with Tatyana in it. The other problem is that I wouldn't know which one is Tatyana even if I knew what the pas de trois is.

There is one dancer in this performance who I always assumed is Tatyana Bessmertnova but I'm not sure. One thing is for sure, she is one of my favorites because of her stage presence. She looks like she is in love with what she is doing. She appears in two roles; the first is early on where she and another ballerina share a dance with the prince (is this the pas de trois?). The second is where she does a Spanish style dance with a fan in her hand and male dancers alongside. Is this Tatyana?

Thank you in advance. :)

Edited by Roach

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Roach,

I'm afraid I can't answer your question about Natalia (yikes) Tatyana Bessmertnova, but I wanted you to know that this is the right forum to discuss ballet videos and to ask questions about them. (And thank you for introducing yourself in the Welcome forum -- you'll receive your official welcome soon!)

Although chances are good that someone here will be able to answer, to get a full cast list, you might want to contact the publisher, Arthaus Musik, info@arthaus-musik.com.

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Roach,

I'm afraid I can't answer your question about Natalia Bessmertnova, but I wanted you to know that this is the right forum to discuss ballet videos and to ask questions about them. (And thank you for introducing yourself in the Welcome forum -- you'll receive your official welcome soon!)

Although chances are good that someone here will be able to answer, to get a full cast list, you might want to contact the publisher, Arthaus Musik, info@arthaus-musik.com.

Thanks Helene. But just so future readers don't get confused, my question is about Tatyana, not Natalia Bessmertnova.

Also, thanks for the advice about Arthaus. If it comes to that I just might start bugging them. :)

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But just so future readers don't get confused, my question is about Tatyana, not Natalia Bessmertnova.
I have to remember to re-read my posts at least three times, if it's earlier than 10am Pacific Time. I've edited the original post so that someone doesn't read mine and reply before they see yours.

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Helene, I took your suggestion and e-mailed ArtHaus. Now to wait and see what happens.

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Hi Roach,

in the video you're referring to the pas de trois is indeed the sequence where two girls in (very) yellow tutus dance with the prince.

And let me edit to add: neither of the dancers in the pas-de-trois returns in the (equaly exuberant) Spanish dance you referred to. That's Maria Zubkova.

Do you have one or two other Swan Lakes you're watching apart from this one? Lots of people prefer their Swan Lake sans Jester.

Edited by Herman Stevens

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I have to disagree with you Herman. The dark girl in the the pas de trois is Tatiana Bessmertnova, looking very much like her sister Natalia. While the middle blonde girl with the splendid technique is Maria Bilova. In the Spanish dance it is indeed the beautiful Maria Zubkova (who is married to Irek Mukhamedov).

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Thank you, Jorgen. I checked again, and indeed, you are right. I have changed my previous post accordingly, so as not to perpetuate inaccuracies.

So the first girl in the pas-de-trois is indeed Tatiana Bessmertnova; the other girl is Maria Bilova, who, in the Bolshoi Sleeping Beauty dvd from the same era, is Bluebird's Princess Florine.

I guess I didn't quite see the Bessmertnova resemblance at first, Natalia being more the unsmiling, serene (and probably terribly overworked) dancer, compared to the exuberant pas-de-trois appearance of Tatiana.

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Ok :-) Maria Bilova can also be seen as Mekhmene Banu in the Legend of Love video, with Alla Mikhalchenko, Irek Mukhamedov and Gediminas Taranda.

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First of all, thank you all so much for responding. I'm a little embarrassed that I mistook Zubkova for Bessmertnova, but just tonight I am watching Swan Lake again and thought I'd skip back and forth between the pas de trois and the Spanish dance. I was about to post here that I think I figured out who is who, but I'm glad that you guys have confirmed what I finally saw.

It's hard to find pictures of the less famous balerinas like Tatyana Bessmertnova except maybe the one shot I found of her with her sister in a non-balet setting (looks like a vacation shot). Bilova has more pictures at the Ballerina Gallery, so she's easier to ID in Swan Lake . . . my problem is that being a novice, I'm not exactly sure what makes a pas de trois so I wasn't sure if the dance with the yellow tutus was in fact the pas de trois. I know it means a dance for three, but to someone just learning I can confuse it with other dances that involve three people.

Well, a mystery is solved. I am now officially a fan of Tatyana Bessmertnova and Maria Zubkova (who I realized last night was the white cat in Sleeping Beauty, 1989 Bolshoi). Not having the background to make critical judgment on technical details, I go with that certain something that strikes me in a dancer's stage presence. Those two always make me want to see them more.

By the way Herman, to answer your question . . . I have seen a few other version of Swan Lake including the Perm State Ballet (or Tchaikovsky Ballet) here in my hometown just half a month ago. There was no jester and I didn't miss it, but I must say that overall I have an affinity for Grigorovich's version for various other reasons (including his representation of Rothbart not only as an individual character, but as a sort of symbolic dark side of Sigfried). Also, when a version doesn't include that one Russian dance (correct me if I'm wrong) that starts with the violin solo, I am a little dissappointed. I like it's subtlety in the 1989 Bolshoi version.

By the way, I have also seen a Kiev version that seemed recent because of the very good video quality . . . I'm trying to see if I can find it on DVD. I think it was performed in Japan because it starts with a Japanese woman introducing the performance and interviewing the principal dancers.

I also own the Plisetskaya version that has alot of parts edited out (probably old damaged film). I like the fact that half-way through they play some piano versions of some of the Swan Lake music as I'm sure Tchaikovsky must have played it when first composing it. Really beautiful.

I plan to order as many Ballet DVDs as my budget allows. So far I have eleven and tax return time is coming soon! :)

Okay, I really went off on a tangent but that's because I'm not around anyone in everyday life who appreciates ballet so I have to temper my enthusiasm in order to avoid putting my friends and colleagues to sleep. :beg: Thanks again for your help!

Edited by Roach

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Roach, How exciting for you to be discovering ballet right now.

I'm sure there are plenty of BAlertniks who remember what a godsend ballet was when it first appeared in their lives. It certainly was so for me, and it was certainly Swan Lake that made a believer out of me.

My favorite version is the Royal Ballet's. I wish there were a recording of Antoinette Sibley and Anthony Dowell in it, for that's the couple who broke my heart in it -- but there is a very fine version with Dowell and Natalia Makarova that is readily available for sale, and which you might want to take a look at. Unlike the Russian versions, which are great but unfortunately had to have happy endings for Soviet reasons, the RB's version really is a tragedy. The dancing in soloist roles is not so hot, but the principals are wonderful -- actually, Makarova's white swan is gorgeous but IMHO a little creepy, her black swan shows her real strengths -- and the national dances are great, especially the czardas. (WOW!)

Good luck with all this.

It's great music, isn't it?

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Paul,

yes, the music is definitely great. And rest assured, I will eventually get my hands on the Royal Balet version you are refering to (as well as a good overall Royal Ballet collection including that Sleeping Beauty with Anthony Dowell as Carabosse, 1972). I'm also intrigued by the Swedish Royal Ballet version of Swan Lake; I read that it's in a Gothic style setting. I'll have to get it.

Interesting what you say about the happy ending and the Soviet influence. Personally I like both endings, but it is unfortunate if the happy one was in fact imposed politically.

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