Roach

Asking for Prokofiev's Cinderella recommendation

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Hi all,

I'm looking for recommendations on performances of Cinderella on DVD. I'm open to any ballet company but if possible would like to start with Bolshoi. But please, no studio performances . . . live with an audience only. Would also appreciate comments on multiple aspects of the DVD to include production quality as well as the performance of the dancers. Thanks! I look forward to adding to my growing collection.

PS. Let me take back the part about "no studio." I prefer live with an audience but am open to suggestions. Thanks.

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Hi all,

I'm looking for recommendations on performances of Cinderella on DVD. I'm open to any ballet company but if possible would like to start with Bolshoi. But please, no studio performances . . . live with an audience only. Would also appreciate comments on multiple aspects of the DVD to include production quality as well as the performance of the dancers. Thanks! I look forward to adding to my growing collection.

PS. Let me take back the part about "no studio." I prefer live with an audience but am open to suggestions. Thanks.

Giving this a bump in hope of a response. :(

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The Royal Ballet in Ashton's version, with the perfect cast of Sibley and Dowell (and Ashton himself) (1969) would be hard (impossible) to beat. But be aware that this is a work of art, not a mere vehicle for star turns.

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Margot Fonteyn, Ashton and Macmillan as the sisters, Michael Somes, all-star Fairies......

it's an historically valuable performance, very different than we see now, but wonderful.....

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The Ashton version with Sibley and Dowell has Ashton and Robert Helpmann as the stepsisters. Helpmann's superbly detailed and malevolent characterization, and Ashton's reactions as a beaten accomplice are perfect reflections of the music, which runs counter to a fairy tale setting. (In the Fonteyn, there's sappy period music accompanying the credits, and it is the strangest juxtaposition to hear it against the "Music by Sergei Prokovieff" credit, but that entire special adaptation is Disneyfied, the Disney of that earlier period.) They don't even need to be present for their oppressiveness to be felt.

The fairies are Georgina Parkinson as the Fairy Godmother, Jennifer Penney as Spring, Vyvyan Lorrayne as Summer, Ann Jenner as Autumn, and Deanne Bergsma as Winter. Alexander Grant is the jester (as well as in the Fonteyn version), and Derek Rencher and Wayne Sleep are the stepsister's suitors. I thought the camera work was very well done in this live version released on Kultur.

The Fonteyn/Somes version was adapted for TV by Ashton: there are narration and fanciful effects, which, unfortunately, make it difficult to see all of the dancing mainly because of the use of light costumes and tights on a light background. However, the Summer of Elaine Fifield and the Winter of Svetlana Beriosova are sublime, even if it's frustrating trying to see Fifield against a light background. It was as if she was two-dimensional line drawing that broke through to a third dimension. The stepsisters in this version are Ashton and MacMillan. MacMillan isn't as powerful as Helpmann, but that could have been a deliberate choice in a studio version with studio sets. I really like Fonteyn as an actress in this. Somes comes off as a bit of a doofus, especially at the end, but he's so physically imposing, that it's gratifying to see him push MacMillan out of the way to try the slipper on Fonteyn.

It's not really a ballet, per se, although there was dancing. Perhaps more like a pantomime? The whole concept was very creative and enchanting; even if it looks old-fashioned, it has emotional resonance, if you put aside contemporary eyes. I just wish the lighting were better.

This is a VAI DVD. (The commercials in the bonus section are a hoot.)

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As for the Russian versions, there is a film (not a live performance) of the Rostislav Zakharov production danced by the Bolshoi with Raissa Struchkova as Cinderella and Gennady Lediakh as the Prince, dating from the early 1960's. And from the Kirov there is a film (again, not a live performance) of the Konstantin Sergeyev production with Gabriella Komleva and Marat Daukaev from the seventies. Both are highly recommendable if you are fond of Soviet ballet, and you don't want your Ugly Sisters danced by men. :grinning-smiley-001: Performance-wise you won't find any better, simply because it's all there is of the Russian versions. Footage and sound quality is "historical" with lots of special effects thrown in which were already dated when these films were first published.

On another level, these films are interesting because they feature two great Russian ballerinas of the day, of whom there isn't much material available.

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What a great forum! Where else can I get reliable answers except from a forum of ballet devotees like you all. Thanks for coming through for me again (I also got great help on a Swan Lake DVD trivia question before). The only downside is that I'm sold on all of the recommendations now and will have to dig a little deeper into my wallet. :(

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Roach,

In summer 2004, we attempted a new feature, based on the book club concept, to watch a video and have a multi-layered discussion about it. The ballet was Ashton's Cinderella. We were only partially successful, but there are some great responses. I was having trouble finding it until today (I was searching for a thread), only to find that it was a sub-forum of the Ballet Forum, right on the home page.

The link to the threads in the forum is:

http://ballettalk.invisionzone.com/index.php?showforum=144

There are a couple of posts and threads that I think you will find particularly interesting:

In the thread Ashton's Cinderella, among the links are to lists of productions of Cinderella and info on the original production in Moscow.

#7 - Compare other Cinderellas to Ashton's.

But there are good responses in all of the threads.

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To go off the beaten track ...

Harder to find, but there was a BBC telecast of Cinderella a few years ago with Alina Cojocaru and Johan Kobborg that is a very fine performance of this ballet.

And, there was also a version of Cinderella from the POB choreographed by Nureyev starring Sylvie Guillem and Charles Jude. In this case, Cinderella is a starlet, Nureyev a movie producer, and the movie ends with Cinderella signing a movie contract. It's a concept that actually works very well. Besides Guillem and Jude, the film is stocked to the brim with famous etoiles -- Elisabeth Maurin, Isabel Guerin, Monique Loudieres among them.

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I like the POB 'Cinderella' too, just watched it this weekend. In fact, it's the only one I've ever seen, but I'm not worried about that. I want to see the Royal Ballet version too, but I am not going to ever love the 'Cinderella' score as much as Prokofiev's 'Romeo and Juliet,' which it reminds you of, but seems much paler on first listening. Only when the Prince and Cinderella dance is there, to my ear, music that is as stirring as is almost the entire score of 'romeo and juliet.' You should see this one if you haven't seen Sylvie Guillem, though (I hadn't) as she is rather startling and fabulous.

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Does anybody know who dances the 'Seasons Fairies' in the 1985 film of the Kirov-Sergeev version that stars Gabriela Komleva? The four solo fairies are all terrific but are uncredited in the film, perhaps because they may have been student sof the Vaganova Academy at the time of filming? Possibilities are students of Dudinskaya who graduated in the 1985/86 timeframe, who Sergeev-Dudinskaya may have cast, e.g., Veronika Ivanova & Irina Shapchits, both in Dudinskaya's graduation class of '85. Perhaps the graduating students of other professors -- Vasilieva's star pupil Yulia Makhalina -- were also cast? The tall dancer who leads Summer looks a bit like Makhalina.

Many wonderful 1970s and 80s 'Soviet' films include senior Vaganova Academy students in adult roles. It is very frustrating that the students are rarely identified in these films....such as the delightful 1974 Glazunov 'The Seasons' film, also by Konstantin Sergeev. Only Konstantin Zaklinsky, the male lead, is identified there.

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Wow I didn't know there was any video recording of The Seasons at all! Was it ever released to DVD (doubtful) or even video? I'm a big Glazunov fan, and it's my favorite of his scores...

I'm new here, but was actually going to post about Cinderella on video. I admit that I'm a bit of a purist, in that i like to try to see the closest to the original production of a ballet as I can--and then see other examples. With Cinderella I'm already familiar, however, with Ashton's version--which I really enjoy although I have some problems with (I miss the around the world divertisement in the final act, for instance). It's also hard to find information on the history of the ballet.

The Rostislav Zakharov production was the first production and the one Prokofiev wrote his score to, right? Unlike the (arguably) original production of Romeo and Juliet which the Kirov still dances, I don't think the Zakharov is still performed anywhere--am I wrong? When did the Bolshoi dance it to? And was the Kirov production by Sergeyev the next (I don't believe they still perform that either). While I know critics ar emixed on Zakharov's production, was it ever filmed live on stage or is the movie the only version we have? I ask because I know the movie, at 90 minutes, must have edited out at least 30 minutes of the original. Still, I suppose it's better than nothing. I know the current Bolshoi production si quite controversial, to say the least...

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Could someone tell me about this (now out of print?) DVD of Cinderella? All I know is it's meant to be the Bolshoi. I'd love to know year it was filmed, length, choreographer and leads... You knwo the basics--and if anyone would recommend it.

Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Cinderella-Bolshoi-B...2245&sr=8-6

I somehow have the idea that this is the studio film of the Kirov's Sergeyev production, filmed in Moscow somewhere around the late 70s and subsequently mislabeled. If so the dancers are Gabriela Komleva, Marat Daukaev and Margarita Kulik. Cheesy special effects, good choreography and excellent dancing all around.

I can't for the life of me remember where I base the idea that this is mislabeled, so I hope someone else can post and shed some light...

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Chrisk thanks so much for your help! I don't think I've been ever so baffled by trying to buy a ballet DVD...

I've been trying to figure this out and there's more confusion for me...

Initially I was trying to find a production on dvd of the Bolshoi original Rostislav Zakharov production--is all that we have filmed of that in "full" the edited movie version from the 60s? Or was there a live DVD made before they dropped it from their repertoire?

I know Sergeyev did his version only a year later--is the only film we have of that production the 70s filming you mention with the cheesy effects (and apparantly not too well filmed from reviews).

Anyway, on to the DVDs-- http://www.amazon.com/Prokofiev-Cinderella...a/dp/B0000DZ3H8 this one seems to be the mislabelled Kirov/Bolshoi production you mention. It's out of print too. I generally liek Sergeyev's productions, and being a huge fan of Prokofiev's music I'd love to see this, but for that price and considering at 90 minutes it must be edited and maybe not that well filmed I might hold out even if it's my only chance...

And then there's THIS Bolshoi version http://www.amazon.com/Prokofiev-Cinderella...JXX220FSSDKP8KS I thought/hoped at first it was a live recording done in the 70s but it appears to be another film or edit since it's only 80 minutes long--still I know nothing about it. Any help guys?

Thanks!!

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It seems like those DVDs you linked to are the same version (even though one is labeled 79 minutes and the other 89 minutes): same year, same dancers listed...

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Could someone tell me about this (now out of print?) DVD of Cinderella? All I know is it's meant to be the Bolshoi. I'd love to know year it was filmed, length, choreographer and leads... You knwo the basics--and if anyone would recommend it.

Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Cinderella-Bolshoi-B...2245&sr=8-6

I somehow have the idea that this is the studio film of the Kirov's Sergeyev production, filmed in Moscow somewhere around the late 70s and subsequently mislabeled. If so the dancers are Gabriela Komleva, Marat Daukaev and Margarita Kulik. Cheesy special effects, good choreography and excellent dancing all around.

I can't for the life of me remember where I base the idea that this is mislabeled, so I hope someone else can post and shed some light...

It is indeed all the same Kirov version with Komleva and Daukaev. Several obscure labels have been releasing this film always under "Bolshoi" - probably one of those Soviet films that has been sold through the back door to the West during the collapse of the USSR, and mislabeled. After that, nobody in the production chain cares. It's Russian ballet, and even Cinderella, that's correct. :dry: Since there is no other choice for Russian Cinderella's on commercial DVD, we'll have to live with it.

The Bolshoi acquired Yuri Posokhov's version of Cinderella a couple of years ago. It would be great to have that one on film as well.

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Thanks to both of you for clearing that up. So probably each release would look as good/bad as the other and it should just boil down to price? How frustrating that there's not a proper release (or a filmed on stage version of the Bolshoi original). Are there any telecasts of it sitting in a vault waiting for DVD? I guess we have to be content with the 60s Bolshoi film.

Thanks again!

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The Bolshoi acquired Yuri Posokhov's version of Cinderella a couple of years ago. It would be great to have that one on film as well.

I agree! I saw the Bolshoi's new production in 2007 with Svetlana Zakharova and (now retired) Sergey Filin and thought it was marvelous -- despite some weak choreography and Zakharova's more spunky than vulnerable Cinderella. Since then I have been hoping this version will someday be filmed.

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The Bolshoi acquired Yuri Posokhov's version of Cinderella a couple of years ago. It would be great to have that one on film as well.

I agree! I saw the Bolshoi's new production in 2007 with Svetlana Zakharova and (now retired) Sergey Filin and thought it was marvelous -- despite some weak choreography and Zakharova's more spunky than vulnerable Cinderella. Since then I have been hoping this version will someday be filmed.

It is a funny version. Ekaterina Krysanova (with Dmitry Gudanov) and especially Ekaterina Shipulina (with Dmitry Belogolovtsev) were very enjoyable Cinderellas.

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I found some short advertising clips for "the Bolshoi's Cinderella" on youtube, and it's NOT the old 60s Bolshoi movie. I recognize the choreography from videos I've seen of the Vaganova Academy's Cinderella Act II which they still perform in the old Kirov Sergeyev production (and is a GORGEOUS production--makes me sad it's still nto done elsewhere--hands down my fave traditional Cinderella Act II). So I assume this is from the video that we mention above--mislabelled as Bolshoi?

The reason I'm not sure is it has more special effects than I would have expected. It does make me all the more sad that a soviet version *recorded from stage* wasn't kept.

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Thanks to everyone's help in this thread, I received my copy of the Bolshoi 1961 movie of Cinderella in the mail last week. I've since watched it all the way through twice... And this seems the best place to "review" it.

I'm a huge Cinderella fan--a large part of my love for the work is because I appreciate how Prokofiev took his style and adapted it to a ballet score that he wanted to follow the pattern of the classic Tchaikovsky ballets, even dedicating the score to him. In some ways i think it makes a nice, Soviet companion piece to Sleeping Beauty (even if it's nowhere as ambitious, grand, or *long* as that masterpiece).

Knowing the score for years, I never felt that Ashton's version quite *fit*--so I've been excited to see the original Soviet versions. I know that the ballet was commissioned by the Kirov, but for many reasons ended up premiering a year before at the Bolshoi. This led to two versions "rival" versions, Rotislav Zakharov in Moscow, and K Sergeyev's in Leningrad. It's a shame we don't have full video recordings of both of these works (and they're no longer in either repertoire)...

Anyway back to the film--I admit I was disappointed at first. Kultur's DVD release is in *no* way restored, the sound and image is about what you'd expect from a public domain cheapie DVD of some movie from the 30s (not the 60s). But I bet they got the best print they could. It also felt "odd" at first--the sets which seem to be based on the original Bolshoi designs but a bit more elaborate feel neither quite like stage sets or like film sets, and the closeups and reaction shots come off as, frankly, cheesy nowadays. Also,knowing the score by heart the cuts to keep it 80 minutes were jarring (the ballet isn't a long one anyway--Prokofiev wrote just under two hours of music, but I'm certain much was cut from the stage version.

But you know... by the Fairy of the Seasons variations I was almost completely won over. Maybe I just had to get used to the poor quality and the dated style of the filming. The whole film is so utterly *charming* and, maybe because it was the first version, even the odd touches feel right. I had read comments about Zakharov's production and choreography being disappointing to Ashton, but I loved how musical all his movements were. The corps in the Ballroom Act did perform simpler steps than I expected, but the details of the patterns they formed was astonishing and I bet it looked spectacular on stage.

As for the leads, Raisa Struchkova *is* Cinderella. I'd never seen her dance before, and I was impressed most of all her how athletic her turns were, and how good her acting was. Actually, maybe because this was a film and not a filmed performance, the acting of everyone was one of the things that made it work for me. I loved how the choreography corresponded to this--the Step Mother somehow making pointe work look awkward, the Jester (who I'd never seen in any other production) and his athletic-ness allowing him to show off but being perfect for comic relief. And Gennadi Lediakh--a dancer I hadn't even heard about--as the Prince was perfect--romantic, determined, and with good humour. The humour of Zakharov's production also caught me by surprise in general--I'd never seen the "Prince searches around the world" divertissement staged before--and loved how it was done with such comedy and knockabout action--the Prince in his rush to test his shoe on every woman's foot leading to the male suitors around her chasing him down. Great stuff. (His turns also are *amazing*--maybe the old film just makes them look even faster than recent video taped performances, but wow)

Being such a big fan of this ballet the whole film was exciting to see--in a way it would be like seeing the Imperial Ballet doing Sleeping Beauty only 15 years after it premiered. Yeah, it was "opened up" for the film, and I wish it hadn't been edited for time (and that we wouldn't get close up shots that cut away from amazing dancing going on elsewhere). And I wish it would be properly restored. But it's better than nothing--and actually is a much better viewing experience than I ever expected. It's a shame Zakharov's production doesn't seem to be staged anywhere--no, his choreographic text isn't as important as, say Petipa's classic ballets are, but it's always interesting to be able to "go back to the start" and see how it was first staged. I also have to say I like some of the weird Soviet touches that I believe were written into Prokofiev's original score--that Ashton got rid of--like those creepy gnomes to announce the hours of the clock (the filmed "midnight" sequence, while obviously utterly different on stage--was pretty amusing in its cheap effects!)

I suppose Ashton's production ahs overshadowed this original one in the West--most other versions seem to be derived from it. And I know I'm probably alone in feeling this way, but watching the Soviet Bolshoi version just felt more magical to me. It's a shame that, this film aside, it seems to have been lost to the active repertoire.

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Sorry to reply to myself but I finally saw the Kirov DVD and wanted to post my thoughts on it and how it compared:

I've been sick at home the past week or so, but it's had one benefit and that's giving me a chance to catch up on my ballet DVDs! I've now seen and watched the above mentioned Kirov performance that's mislabelled as Bolshoi and released by a couple of "cheapo" companies. Amazon lists several editions and a word of help--I first ordered the edition with a photograph of Cinderella washing a pan on the cover--I made sure it was NTSC before ordering it, but when it arrived it was a PAL DVD. Amazon apologized and took it back, but apparently there is no NTSC release from that company/with that cover despite what it says.

I ended up getting from Amazon's marketplace a copy with the Red Bolshoi cover and a random image of a ballerina. The text in the back is all in some European language I don't know but the DVD is all regions and in NTSC. I was worried about the quality but the actual image is very good for an older, unremastered videotaped source. The sound is good too but has a bit of an odd quality to it (I think because the company remastered it to 5.1 Stereo and did a cheap job)--but both are better than Kultur's unremastered Bolshoi DVD that I reviewed above.

This is the Konstantin Sergeyev production (premiered in 1946 but in a Soviet Ballet book I read that Sergeyev completely restaged the ballewt in 1964 with much less mime and more dance, so I assume this reflects that) that Natalia and others mention above, danced by the Kirov and copyrighted 1985. It doesn't seem to have been performed on either the Kirov or Bolshoi stages, but was filmed nearly completely in a studio for television it seems. Like the Bolshoi film, sadly it's edited for time, and has some cheesy and useless special effects.

That said, I thought it was great watching and made for an interesting comparison to the Bolshoi film. I wish I could find more information on the Soviet opinion of these ballets--Sergeyev did his staging for the Kirov so soon after Zakharov's for the Bolshoi, when it was standard at the time to merely bring over a staging intact--I wonder if there was any controversy or competition--and which version critics preferred? Judging from these two films, and sadly not from live performances, they both seem to have their pluses or minuses but I still prefer them to the Western traditional versions I've seen.

My first thought was that the Kirov's seemed to have more intricate corps work with more challenging steps, but less challenging steps for the leads--much of the corps work in the Bolshoi film is basically walking in patterns, but Sergeyev's use of a female corps (Cinderella's fairy retinue) through most of the ball scene reminded me a lot of the choreography for the fairies in his production of Sleeping Beauty. The Bolshoi's production also had more out and out humour--in comparison the stepsisters here were much better dancers. But most of the Soviet elements that Ashton dropped are in both--the Stepsisters played by women and the father being around, the Fairy Godmother being a beggar at first who Cinderella helps, the four seasons fairies presenting gifts for the ball, the presentation of the Three Oranges there, etc.

Gabriela Komleva as Cinderella is the only person credited in English on the DVD but as expected everyone dances magnificently. My major let downs were with some of the cuts (the Third Act here is only 13 minutes long--with a ridiculous special effects sequence for the Prince's voyage and the women of exotic locations he tries the shoe on not even getting ANY of their actual music or dancing--just an appearance). Also, surprising for such a large company, the Ballroom scenes suffer because the corps has been massively cut down to fit the smaller TV studio stage. This allows more closeups (and some weird filming from weird angles) but comparing it to the youtube performance of this Act by the Vaganova students (just search youtube for Vaganova Cinderella) using the same choreography, you miss the grandeur--especially as Prokofiev's music is so rich and intoxicating for this scene. Finally the special effects really are a waste and kinda awful--worse than any of the cheesy ones used for the Bolshoi movie. Essentially we often get "swirling" backgrounds that are blue screened poorly behind the dancers--distracting us from the dancing (for example for the Summer Fairy we get a kaleidoscopic image of tulips). It all makes me wish all the more that they had simply filmed the ballet on the Kirov stage as performed live.

But the performances and choreography make up for it--also the smaller details like Cinderella hiding the picture of her stepmother. One more oddity, the Beggar woman never really transforms into the Fairy Godmother like she does at the Bolshoi--she's more like a Fairy Grandmother here and the ending has been badly edited for TV barely showing her return for Cinderella's apotheosis with her Prince which has such entrancing music. Compared to Struchkova, Komleva plays Cinderella with more seriousness and less childlike playfulness, but it works just as well and may suit the music (Cinderella's mournful leitmotiv) better. The father's reluctance to mistreat Cinderella was also more touching here although you had to wonder why he married the Step Mother in the first place (in this production the Step Sisters are beautiful but the step mother is neither kind nor pretty)

So I guess this sounds like a mixed recommendation, but I think considering it can be found for so cheap, that it's danced so well, and that it's our only chance to see the Sergeyev production which still feels so authentic to me (I really wish the Marrinsky would have kept it in their repertoire, but the current ideal in Russia for Cinderella seems to be to not do a traditional version). So all that considered I think it's a good buy--and I'm really glad to have the chance to see what this early version of Cinderella looked like.

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"Anyway back to the film--I admit I was disappointed at first. Kultur's DVD release is in *no* way restored, the sound and image is about what you'd expect from a public domain cheapie DVD of some movie from the 30s (not the 60s). But I bet they got the best print they could."

"But you know... by the Fairy of the Seasons variations I was almost completely won over. Maybe I just had to get used to the poor quality and the dated style of the filming. The whole film is so utterly *charming* and, maybe because it was the first version, even the odd touches feel right."

"As for the leads, Raisa Struchkova *is* Cinderella. "

Thank you so much EricMontreal! I have seen a few different versions of Cinderella on dvd but this is the first one that for me captured the feeling of a fairytale. I loved the dramatic expressiveness of all of the dancers. This is also what struck me about the dvd of Maya Plisetskaya's Swan Lake. Even the minor courtiers give you a sense of character.

On the basis of your review I bought this dvd and am just thrilled!

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