rg

Ulanova's Odette after the breaking of her swan spell

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scan of an uncaptioned photo of what I take to be the Epilogue/Apotheosis from the SWAN LAKE with Ulanova and Konstantin Sergeyev as filmed in '53, presumably with this scene created especially for the film.

the scene suggests the ultimate return of Odette to her human form.

(elsewhere on the site, previously, this moment in the Soviet staging of the ballet was brought up, if the moderators can find that exchange and link to this photo it might be useful to the discussion of the history of SWAN LAKE.)

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That final scene is available on the DVD Stars of the Russian Ballet:

http://www.amazon.com/Russian-Ulanova-Plisetskaya-Vakhtang-Chabukiani/dp/B00197YZAE/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1383867599&sr=1-1&keywords=stars+of+the+russian+ballet

I just took another look at it after seeing the still rg posted and it's fascinating for historical reasons. Odette and the corps of swans are transformed into young maidens in long white dresses. They claim this is the only existing film of Ulanova as Odette. (Natalia Dudinskaya does Odile.) The Soviets seem to have had fun experimenting with film techniques in the 1950s, as it has lots of gimmicky things - e.g., a cartoonish swan flies overhead at the end of the Black Swan PdD. This portion of the film is actually short, with only a few highlights from the full-length ballet. (Excerpts from The Fountain of Bakhchisarai and The Flames of Paris are included on the 82 minute DVD.)

A few more historic details: This was filmed in 1953, the year Stalin died (in March of 1953) and I believe that was also the year of the Bolshoi's first visit to New York (am I correct on the year of the first visit?). I distinctly remember being taken as a young child to see ballet films from the Soviet Union shown on Sunday afternoons at the local movie house far from New York and I have a hunch this is one of the things I would have seen. I.e., the thaw in the cold war marked by that first cultural exchange after Stalin's death included the movies, not just the New York visit.

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That final scene is available on the DVD Stars of the Russian Ballet:

http://www.amazon.com/Russian-Ulanova-Plisetskaya-Vakhtang-Chabukiani/dp/B00197YZAE/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1383867599&sr=1-1&keywords=stars+of+the+russian+ballet

I just took another look at it after seeing the still rg posted and it's fascinating for historical reasons. Odette and the corps of swans are transformed into young maidens in long white dresses. They claim this is the only existing film of Ulanova as Odette. (Natalia Dudinskaya does Odile.) The Soviets seem to have had fun experimenting with film techniques in the 1950s, as it has lots of gimmicky things - e.g., a cartoonish swan flies overhead at the end of the Black Swan PdD. This portion of the film is actually short, with only a few highlights from the full-length ballet. (Excerpts from The Fountain of Bakhchisarai and The Flames of Paris are included on the 82 minute DVD.)

A few more historic details: This was filmed in 1953, the year Stalin died (in March of 1953) and I believe that was also the year of the Bolshoi's first visit to New York (am I correct on the year of the first visit?). I distinctly remember being taken as a young child to see ballet films from the Soviet Union shown on Sunday afternoons at the local movie house far from New York and I have a hunch this is one of the things I would have seen. I.e., the thaw in the cold war marked by that first cultural exchange after Stalin's death included the movies, not just the New York visit.

Bolshoi Ballet first came to USA in 1959.

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Bolshoi Ballet first came to USA in 1959.

So the film came first before the company itself visited the US. I'm seeing lots of dates on the web for the first US visit. Does anyone have a reliable source on this?

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Bolshoi Ballet first came to USA in 1959.

So the film came first before the company itself visited the US. I'm seeing lots of dates on the web for the first US visit. Does anyone have a reliable source on this?

Sol Hurok's bio.

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the historic Bolshoi Ballet season in London was 1956; in New York, '59.

the Kirov then came in '61.

NYPL cat. entry for reviews of the season says:

1959

The Bolshoi Ballet, opening of season presented by S. Hurok at Metropolitan Opera House, New York, April 16-May 9.
&
1961
Kirov Ballet - September 11-30, Metropolitan Opera House, New York City.
scans of news photos with cations from the London appearances in '56

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I can't believe I missed this conversation when it was going on. Just to confirm (since the tours are the topic of my research): the Bolshoi first appeared as a group in the US in 1959. They had sent films over previously, including Romeo and Juliet with Ulanova and Zhdanov, the Stars of the Bolshoi, and Swan Lake with Plisetskaya.

This does, however, allow me to introduce a quote I've been hoping to bring to the forum for the past few weeks. In a book of interviews that Ulanova did with Sania Alievna Davlekamova in the 1990s, Ulanova discusses her version of the Odette/Odile role: (this is my translation from Russian and thus slightly awkward)

The most sacred question (and even that could be long argued): should Odette resemble Odile? In general they should in some way since the Prince mixes them up. But in what way should she resemble her? And in what way entirely not resemble her? In other words why are there two roles? Odette is almost unearthly, spellbound, magical, whereas Odile is in some ways heartfelt, but earthy. It’s difficult to explain: well more concretely ... Odile is living, passionate, open. Odette is reserved, ‘silent’, responds to the Prince timidly, untrustingly... Whereas in Odile this timidity is overcome, that which was closed in Odette begins to open up. For this reason the Prince both recognizes and does not recognizes Odette in her.

It’s possible to do this with a big contrast: almost totally different, only a certain gesture or movement that resembles Odette breaking through. As though she has accidentally revealed this to the Prince... Every actress chooses for herself.

I chose: my Odile resembled the enchanted swan. I didn’t make her ... as extravagant, if it could be said that way. But very earthy, very vital.

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Oh how I wish we could see Ulanova's Odile on film.. I already was so curious about it, and after reading this even more!

Thank you for sharing!

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even photos of Ulanova's Odile are scarce, if not unknown.

film of her in the role, however, has, at least in the West, not yet surfaced.

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The jacket of the DVD Stars of the Russian Ballet from 1953 claims that this is the only existing film of Ulanova in Swan Lake, and Dudinskaya does Odile. Of course, it's possible that film exists but is buried in an archive somewhere in Russia. It's possible somebody did some filming of her when they made the tours to London and New York, but you would think that would surface somehow if it existed.

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there is footage that predates that of STARS OF THE RUSSIAN BALLET, documenting Ulanova's Odette, albiet only the first lakeside adagio (w/ K. Sergeyev in costuming that resembles that for Vaganova's staging 1933 staging in which Ulanova's Swan as her role was called was contrasted with the role of Odile as danced by Olga Jordan) all filmed in a studio.

the NYPL has a copy; i've not heard of her Odile on film, which does not mean, as has been stated here, that some footage doesn't exist in some archive, somewhere.

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additional footage of Ulanova as Odette, w/ Preobrajensky, if mem. serves, is part of a 1947 film originally entitled SOLISTKA BALYET (in Russia) and RUSSIAN BALLERINA in a US release.

for anyone with a subscription to the NYTimes, there's a Sep. 11, 1947 review by Bosley Crowther in the archive.

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I'm reviving this topic, because a short snippet of Galina Ulanova as Odile has turned up on Youtube!

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Beautiful! I often find myself watching footage from this show... What is it?

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I'm reviving this topic, because a short snippet of Galina Ulanova as Odile has turned up on Youtube!

Thank you so much! This is wonderful footage. Not only is it great to finally see a few moments of Ulanova's Odette, it's also a pleasure to see her out of character before they start shooting. I have to say she does seem a little more Odette-y to me than most Odiles, but not nearly as deficient as I've heard her described. I've often wondered if people play up the Ulanova-Odette, Plisetskaya-Odile thing a little too much because it makes a better story.

As for the show, it is Absolyutny Slukh, which means "Perfect Pitch." The title is a delightful little pun in Russian because you can also translate the same phrase as something like "perfect gossip."

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What a find this footage is!

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