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Ballet fan

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  1. Ballet, like any other art, is designed to provoke strong emotions in the viewer. And this is achieved mainly by the dramatic intelligence of the performers. Like acting, ballet needs to express something vital about our condition and the world we live in. Now, ballet differs a lot from acting in the sense that the language used is completely different. There are no words, only movement. But movement can be a potent communicator of a story or feeling. Critics and audience alike expect to be moved by a performance. But I think it's valid to ask: what constitutes dramatic intelligence in an art such as ballet? How is it achieved and how do we tell when it's there? The technical aspects of ballet, for me, are the skeleton that later will become the body of the drama. Without sound technique, it is impossible to achieve an arresting dramatic effect. However technique alone can't and will never constitute artistic intelligence. Some ballets are heavier on story than others, and some ballets don't even have a story but nonetheless they try to communicate something. A ballet dancer with dramatic ability can communicate a lot about his or her character with simple things such a a gesture, or inflection of a step or a particular way of phrasing the combination of steps. I can't stand blank-faced dancers, who dance brilliantly but whose faces remain exactly the same, an inexpressive blank. Or dancers who are bent on a single expression, whether it be a happy-go-lucky smile or a frown. For example, in the video of Le Corsaire with ABT, I thought Julie Kent barely gave Medora any definition of character. She limited herself to smile prettily and bat her eyelids a lot. But then, I saw a clip of her in Swan Lake and I thought she was wonderful and I thought she really held her own in the Romeo and Juliet clips in Center Stage with Ethan. A lot of times certain ballets require certain qualities or else the performance falls flat. For example, La Sylphide and Giselle require an ability to seemingly float and fly, Aurora requires radiance, Swanilda requires spunk, Kitri requires joy and energy, Raymonda requires aristocratic grace, etc. For example, when I was eight years old I saw Yulia Makhalina perform The Legend of Love and I was entranced at how imposing her stage presence was and she had a certain regal quality that made her even more imposing, in a good way. She filled the heroine with mystery and pathos, but I was much too young to understand this. To my child mind, she was simply a very beautiful woman who was very graceful and agile. In videos, I never cease to marvel at the performances of any of the "greats" such as Fonteyn, Ulanova, Markova, Plisetskaya, because they saturated every role with pure emotion. I'll give one last example and then I'll let everyone chime in with their opinions. The two Bayadères on DVD with the Royal Ballet. Asylmuratova gave a sensuous and very moving interpretation of Nikiya. But Tamara Rojo was very boring. I'll be even more specific. In the scene where she fights with Gamzatti where Altynai stretches her arm towards Solor's portrait as if wanting to reach him, but Tamara just stayed there in front of the portrait until Gamzatti (a very wonderful Marianela Nuñez) threatens her even more. Both are blink and you miss it moments but they're there. However I thought Tamara did a much better job as Juliet and Manon. She seems to be at her best in McMillan repertoire, because in the classics she just seems to go through the motions. She doesn't exude the radiant glow that is essential to Aurora or the lyricism and pathos required of Odette, just to mention two. Though as Juliet she is very responsive and communicative, and in Manon she is utterly sensual and irresistible. So I'm baffled that she falls so flat in classical repertoire (for me at least) when a lot of critics praise her dramatic intelligence, especially Clement Crisp. This is just to show that even something as dramatic intelligence can't be uniformly defined. So I want to hear everyone else's take on this.
  2. Hello, everybody. This will be my first review of a live performance. As you all know live ballet performances in Central America are exceedingly rare so I jumped at the chance to watch a performance of the Moiseyev Ballet of Lavrovsky's Romeo and Juliet. So first of all let me say I found the whole performance sub-par. The production seemed to be like it was for a high school performance of Shakespeare's famous love story. As for the choreography, I did recognize passages of Lavrovsky's choreography, which I saw in the wonderful video with Galina Ulanova. But there were some passages that were obviously additions and not very good ones. At the beginning there was no heated fight between the families, just a little lousy mock fighting. The duel between Mercutio and Thybalt, and later Romeo and Thybalt was much better choreographed and performed. Anna Ivanova played Juliet and Aleksandr Alikin was her Romeo. And here is what I have to say about their performances: while Ms. Ivanova was a self-absorbed Juliet that barely made eye contact with her Romeo, Mr. Alikin at least seemed to be interested in his character and tried to delineate and give humanity to Romeo, even if he overacted at times. Overall I wasn't really satisfied with the whole performance because I really couldn't feel Shakespeare's drama, save a few moments.
  3. For all of the arts (theater, literature, painting, movies, dance) there's academic criticism. These critics are supposed to tell people who the true artists are and which works can be considered true art. Many people go by a critic's opinion and never experience the work that's supposed to be bad and actually have an informed opinion. The opposite is true. Many critics hail something as being the finest thing in the entire world, unmatched, etc. and create a huge hype. People go see it, lured by the critic's comments, and if it doesn't meet their expectations they are disappointed. The moral of the story is that one should never rely solely on critics or hearsay to determine whether one will like a work of art or not. It's not any different in ballet. I'll tell you a more personal story to illustrate with an example.I'll admit that I love reading critics in all arts but whether something is to my taste or no, I decide only when I have seen the work. This also bring us to the delicate issue of the ethics of art criticism. Critics are surely aware of the power they hold to convince people to attend a performance or exhibit or ditch it. That being so, the critic should be aware of the responsibility they have to be to be as objective as possible without entirely sacrificing personal opinions. I saw a wonderful quote that someone at this forum used as a signature: "Critical awareness is the ability to distinguish artistic merit form personal taste". Something pretty close to that (if anyone can correct me do so please). I think it's a creed every critic should heed. My personal story is that reading Clement Crisp's reviews of Tamara Rojo, I expected something out of this world when I bought her DVD's, something on a par with the greats. I had watched the old Czinner Film of the Royal Ballet with Fonteyn and she had just started to do her Shadow Dance in Ondine and I was mesmerized and beguiled. When I read Crisp's review of Rojo's Ondine in which he says that Tamara's interpretation is even better than Fonteyn's, I thought it had to be unbelievable but I trusted him because, well, here's a man who saw both of them perform the role live. I continued reading and saw reviews of Romeo and Juliet and Manon. I bought the DVDs right away and although I wasn't entirely disappointed with them, they left something to be desired. Then, by chance, I read an old interview of Crisp in which he claims that criticism is all about bias and that bias was a good thing, and also how he liked to terrorize his students. Moreover, the more I watched clips of Rojo in YouTube performing various roles the more I was convinced that,at least for me, her expression seemed lacking. And that's when it dawned on me that although criticism is an invaluable tool it should never be definitive or dictate what we watch or not. I would love for anyone of our intelligent members to give their opinion on ballet criticism and how it should or should not affect our artistic inclinations and preferences.
  4. Ugh! I didn't like Rojo's Rose Adagio. I agree with the poster that says she looks nervous and scared. Actually, more than that she projects tiredness and not the majesty and joy of a princess celebrating her birthday and being wooed by four handsome men. She dances very matter of factly and like she wants to get over with it. Such a long balance is actually distasteful in something like this. My gold standard for Rose Adagios will always be Fonteyn, Kolpakova, Sizova and in modern times Durante and Cojocaru. Maybe I'm being too critical but when I watch a Rose Adagio I want to be wowed by the whole scene, and I don't mean only the decor and costumes. Even though Sleeping Beauty is not a ballet with as many dramatic demands as Giselle, Swan Lake or Romeo and Juliet, Aurora is a very expressive role. It's an opportunity to show the true grandeur and splendor of balletic movement because the choreography is so good and the music is marvelous. It's only my opinion but that's how I feel about the role of Aurora. Sorry for the long post but seeing something like this and reading everyone's very intelligent remarks makes one's mind work.
  5. Oh, this is wonderful!!! If I could travel back in time to see one dancer it would be her. I think what the video says is true. Even in such a short film, Pavlova's legendary grace and delicacy are more than evident. I take every opportunity to watch any snippets of Pavlova because she's one of the dancers that intrigues me the most.
  6. Oh, bart! Thank you so much for posting that wonderful video! Completely amazing! But the one I'm referring to is a DVD released by VAI. It's a recording of a complete Swan Lake in 1976.
  7. So I was wondering what people think of this recording. Maya Plisetskaya is one of my favorite dancers so I want to take every opportunity to watch her. I have the DVD of the earlier recording of 1957, and I thought Maya was great.She was a larger than life but regal Odette and a mesmerizing Odile. But in the 1976 recording Maya is 51 years old. I know that artistry doesn't depend on age, and there are dancers who can dance ravishingly at a mature age. But dancers past their prime can falter in the technical area, which can interfere a bit with the artistic qualities. So I was just wondering if this DVD is worth purchasing to appreciate Maya's extraordinary qualities or if the recording was done at a time when it couldn't do justice to the kind of dancer she was. There's also the technical aspects like lighting and sound because I've heard that the stage is too dark and the sound quality isn't the best. So I just wanted to hear opinions about this DVD and of Plisetskaya's performance. Thank you in advance!
  8. What drives me to see a ballet performance is two things that come together: 1) I love the art form and 2) In the country I live, a live ballet performance is extremely rare. I had the opportunity to see Yulia Makhalina when she came here but I was 8 years old, however I was mesmerized. The country has not a single national or regional ballet company and touring companies come like every five years or so. The most reliable source that I have to watch ballet is DVD and the Internet, more specifically YouTube. Such a situation is actually sad for a ballet lover like me because live performance is the way ballet is intended to be seen. If the were more opportunities to watch it live I'd definitely take every opportunity to watch a great performance of the classics or more modern works.
  9. So, I've been browsing the Internet and I've decided that I'm gonna indulge in some ballet DVDs. I have four candidates so far so I wanted to see what are people's opinions about them. I'm considering buying either Raymonda with Semenyaka and Mukhamedov, Don Quixote with Terekhova, Coppélia with the Royal Ballet or La Bayadére with Komleva. I have the Raymonda video with Kolpakova and she was great but I also fell in love with the whole ballet and that's why I want another Raymonda, but I was wondering if the Bessmertnova one was better. As for Don Quixote I would like to know what people think about Terekhova as Kitri because she also appears as Gamzatti in the Komleva video of La Bayadére. Lastly I want to know what people think of the Coppélia production of the Royal Ballet, because Coppélia is a ballet I've never seen although I know the story of it. If anyone would care to comment on this matters it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
  10. I've read articles about Olga Spessivtseva and seen some clips on youtube and I'm fascinated by her. Her dancing has a quality that just draws you into the story and character she's portraying. So, I'm curious if a complete performance of hers was ever filmed (especially Giselle and her famous solo). I know there are clips of her performing this and the mad scene, but I'm really interested to know if there's a complete performance among video records that could perharps someday be realeased comercially (like Danilova's Gaitée Parisienne was thankfully.) If anyone could shed some light as to possibilities of seeing this great dancer on video, it would be greatly appreciated.
  11. I've been searching for ballet DVD's on Amazon and I noticed that Bel Air Classiques has discontinued most of its DVDs. They were supposed to release a boxed set with three performances of the Bolshoi Ballet but it was discontinued even before it was released. Same thing happened with Image Entertainment. They discontinued Ferri's Giselle, ABT's Le Corsaire and Kirov's Sleeping Beauty. The only one that's still in print is Murphy and Corella's Swan Lake. Can anyone tell me what is happening with these studios? Because it would be a shame if they stopped releasing DVD's for good.
  12. I did use the banner a few times, Jack. And thank you both for your replies. Also, I'm going to try playing that DVD on my computer. Thank you so much for the tip!
  13. I thought I'd start a thread just for fun and for helping purposes about ballet videos. Just post which ballet DVD's you have and if possible where you got them. This can also help other members find a DVD they've been trying to find (obeying of course the rule of no trading in here). You can also post if you have any homemade videos or recordings of performances broadcast on TV, etc. Here's mine: La Bayadére, Royal Ballet, Mukhamedov Asylmuratova and Bussell TDK (Amazon) The Sleeping Beauty, Royal Ballet, Cojocaru Bonelli Nuñez Opus Arte (Amazon) Cinderella, Royal Ballet, Fonteyn Somes (Producer's Showcase) VAI (Amazon) Romeo and Juliet, Bolshoi Ballet, Ulanova Zhidanov Kultur (Amazon) Raymonda, Kirov Ballet, Kolpakova Berezhnoi VAI (Amazon) Paul Czinner's The Bolshoi Ballet, Ulanova Struchkova Fadeyechev VAI (Amazon) Swan Lake, The Bolshoi Ballet, Plisetskaya Fadeyechev VAI (!957) (Amazon) The Sleeping Beauty, The Royal Ballet, Fonteyn Somes (Producer's Showcase) VAI (Amazon) The Little Humpbacked Horse, The Bolshoi Ballet, Plisetskaya Vasiliev Kultur (Amazon) Giselle, The Royal Ballet, Cojocaru Kobborg Opus Arte (Amazon) Stars of the Russian Ballet, Ulanova Plisetskaya Kultur (Amazon) Romeo and Juliet, La Scala Ballet, Ferri Corella Euro Arts (Amazon) Swan Lake, The Royal Ballet, Makarova Dowell Kultur (Amazon) Romeo and Juliet, The Royal Ballet, Fonteyn Nureyev Kultur (Amazon) An Evening with the Royal Ballet, Fonteyn Nureyev Kultur (Amazon) Don Quixote, The Bolshoi Ballet, Pavlova Gordeev VAI (Local store) Sylvia, The Royal Ballet, Busell Bolle Opus Arte (Local Store) Giselle, ABT, Fracci Bruhn Deutsche Grammophon (Amazon) The Sleeping Beauty, Kirov Ballet, Kolpakova Berezhnoi Kultur (Amazon) Giselle, La Scala Ballet, Ferri Murru Image Entertainment (Amazon) La Fille Mal Gardée, The Royal Ballet, Collier Coleman Kultur (Local Store) The Stone Flower, Bolshoi Ballet, Semenyaka Semizorova (Got this as a gift from the Met Opera Shop) Return of the Firebird, Liepa Ananiashvili Decca (Local Store) Giselle, Bolshoi Ballet, Bessmertnova Lavrovsky Kultur (Amazon) Cinderella, Bolshoi Ballet, Komleva (Amazon) Swan Lake, Bolshoi Ballet, Bessmertnova Bogatyrev Kultur (Amazon) (EDIT) I have now finally been able to acquire an NTSC version of Bessmertnova's Giselle.
  14. Ballet fan

    Tamara Rojo

    So, I was wondering what are people's opinions on this ballerina. A lot of critics have praised her for her dramatic skills. I've seen clips of her Romeo and Juliet and there are parts where she's really intense in her acting but there are other times when she feels rather dull. Plus, she's a dancer that likes to show her technique (quadruple fouettes, long balances, etc.) She indeed does have an outstanding technique and deserves the title of virtuosa, but I'm really interested about what people think of things of more artistic merit such as acting skills, drawing the public into the story, portrayal of pathos, etc. I'm asking this because I'm considering buying her Manon and Romeo and Juliet, and MacMillan's ballets are essentially dramatic. So, discuss Tamara because I'd really appreciate any input people could give me.
  15. I can't believe it but ABT II is coming here to Costa Rica to perform The Nutcracker along with a national company at the National Theater. I'm really excited, and I already ordered my ticket. The performance is on December 3rd. I'll post again with a review of the performance.
  16. Oh, I have this DVD too and I loved it as well! Margot has such an exquisite ethereal quality which extremely few dancers have. They are able to convey flight when they are on the ground. And Rudi's interpretation of the poet is marvellous. He really looks like he is in a dream state mesmerized and enchanted by this elusive and delicate creatures. The artistry is really unmatched. The Corsaire pdd section is also very good. Margot demonstrates her ever present delicate lyricism, beautiful line, and her technique is still solid. And Rudi dazzles with his fireworks and energy.
  17. So, I'm really curious as to what people think of this DVD. I have Irina's Raymonda and I liked it a lot, but she was 50 in this DVD and Aurora is a really taxing and demanding role that requires perfect technique. However, sometimes dancers can mature their interpretation of a role as they mature themselves. I've seen Margot Fonteyn in Romeo and Juliet and while she was in her 40's she still exuded freshness and youthfulness, so I'm not afraid to see an "older" ballerina. Also, interesting to note is that both Margot and Irina are acclaimed Auroras, so I really want to see them both to compare and contrast. However, on the DVD of Sleeping Beauty that I have with Margot, she's a lot younger than Irina is in this DVD. However, I really want to see this great ballerina in one of her signature roles, but I'm still afraid to make the purchase if the performance doesn't show her at her best. I understand that she's older than her prime, but I just want to know if it's at least a good enough performance so as to show the qualities that made her compelling in that role in the first place. Thanks a lot in advance, everyone!
  18. Ok, so there is a Makarova one. Thanks very much everyone for finding that. I will be purchasing it. The Ferri/Murru one is out of bounds because of the outrageous price. But now, the ones I'm really interested in seeing in the role (if they have been released, of course) are Margot Fonteyn and Ekaterina Maximova. If anyone could shed some light whether they're available in any shape or form, I would be very thankful.
  19. There was a Fonteyn/Nureyev/Mason(or Parkinson) version released on Video, but I am not sure if it ever appeared on DVD. Oh, wow! Really? Margot is amazing. I'd love to see such a historic performance. After you posted this, I searched for the tape (I'm guessing it would have been released on VHS) but to no avail. Maybe someone knows where to find it? And thank you everyone, for this wonderful help.
  20. I was just wondering if anyone could give a complete list of Giselles officially released on DVD (maybe even VHS) or at least which ones they consider the best and most important. For example, I'm wondering if there's one released with Natalia Makarova or any other ballerina which is considered outstanding in the role. Do not recommend the ones with Alina Cojocaru and Galina Ulanova because I already have them and they're very good, but I'm looking to purchase something new. Thanks so much in advance!
  21. Actually, in my case even if I think a certain performance is the best that there can be, I always try to see as much performances as I can so I can compare and contrast. The definitive Giselle for me is Galina Ulanova, but I was curious to see Cojocaru's approach to the role so I bought that DVD as well. I was very satisfied with both performances even if Galina is actually my gold standard. The same would happen with any other ballet (classical or modern). A varied exposure tends to be a lot more enriching than just limiting yourself to a performance you consider perfect. It's obvious that you'll like some performances more than others, but if you actually see them, you'll have more of a basis with which to construct an educated opinion.
  22. Odette/Odile is one of ballet's most difficult roles. Like a holy grail for the ballerina. But I see that a lot of people mention such a variety of dancers as the best in this role. Of course, part of this question is subjective. But aside from personal preferences, I'm curious as to whom people would name as the best Odette/Odile, trying to be as objective as possible. I'd like people to list very specific reasons for naming that particular dancer or dancers. As for me. I've seen three Odettes on video: Margot Fonteyn (Vienna Ballet with Rudolf), Maya Plisetskaya (1957), and Galina Ulanova (Stars of Russian Ballet). I'm still relatively new to watching ballet, so I find it very difficult to choose from these three great dancers. But I can say what I liked about them. In the case of Margot, the video with the Vienna Ballet is not the best Swan Lake to have as your introduction to the masterpiece, like I did. The choreography by Nureyev still isn't up to par with the original Petipa/Ivanov. Bravura technique was never Margot's forte, however she possesed such a magical lyricism that you truly believed she was a noble and pure woman condemned to live as a swan. I still think she's a good Odile because she has dramatic flair, even if her technique isn't suited for the role. She still exuded the danger and sexiness required of the role. Maya is simply incredible as Odile. She's a hurricane that leaves nothing but ruins and devastation. She also has lyricism as Odette but it isn't such a virginal lyricism as Margot and Galina's. Her Odette is more luscious that people expect from the role, but she still has that required lyricism that makes the role resonate with people. Galina had such delicacy and enchanting legato. But again, she's not a bravura dancer. She didn't even portray Odile in the video that I saw her in. I can't choose just one from these wonderful ballerinas. But I'd like to hear people's opinions, wether they have a firm favorite or have various dancers that they thought were exceptional in the role.
  23. I generally don't have much trouble finding ballet DVD's, especially on Amazon, and they're at a reasonable price. However, I saw a clip of Alessandra Ferri's first act variation from Giselle and I loved it, so I decided to see if the DVD was available. Imagine my dismay when I discover that the cheapest one was on Amazon at $525. This is from the marketplace because the DVD is no longer in production. However, I still find that the price is impossibly high. They can't reasonably expect someone to spend five hundred dollars or more on a DVD? Has anyone had a similar experience with any other DVDs and other stores? It's just that I'm upset because I really wanted to see this particular production of Giselle and it frustrates me that people would charge a price that is simply not worth it, even if one had the money at hand.
  24. Fist let me start by saying that in no way I am denying Alina Cojocaru's great talent, nor is this a competition thread. Giselle is a ballet that I adore, not only because its plot has a great deal of humanity and explores many interesting issues about redemption and regret, which are eternal companions of what a lot of people call "the human condition". Being from a country where ballet is rare and scarce, my exposition to this wonderful ballet came in very late. My first Giselle was the Bolshoi video with Galina Ulanova. Needless to say I fell in love with her as a ballerina. The diaphanousness and truthfulness of every gesture and every step, helped create a character so real like very few I've seen on any performance. The way she rejects Hilarion, and makes clear through lovely mime that he heart belongs to another. Her mad scene was so moving because she makes the sheer, concentrated pain that Giselle feels so palpable. The second act of Giselle was equally lovely through gorgeous line and extremely proficient and light footwork from Ulanova's part and expressive port de bras. Now on to Cojocaru's performance. Let me reiterate my initial disclaimer of not denying her talent, but even though Alina has a great physique for Giselle (she's extremely slender and tiny), I felt her Giselle was extremely childlike, if that makes any sense. It's not only Cojocaru's facial features, it's the whole package. Her Giselle was sooo innocent that one could hardly wonder why Albrecht chose her for his charade. A critic said that Cojocaru was able to make clear in her dancing how she hardly knows "Loys" and that she's becoming aware of blossoming sexual attraction. I did not see this. There's no denying that Cojocaru's dancing is technically impecable and expressive with everything you expect from a Royal Ballet principal, but I simply did not see that extra layer that only ballerinas like Ulanova (and let me mention Markova as well) can put to the role. In the mad scene, I thought Cojocaru overplayed a bit the "crazy" part. The mad scene requires less "crazy" and more "detachment". What I mean is that, in this particualr scene Giselle needs to convey a sense of so much pain that she slowly but surely detaches herself from the reality surrounding her and wants to return to the status quo of happiness that existed before the betrayal. It's easy to play this scene with more melodramatic flair, portraying Giselle like someone who never had a grasp of true reality in the first place, which I think goes against what the story is trying to convey. Her second act was very good, since she has such an airy jump , but her footwork needs a little improvement, so she can add a little bit of more sense of urgency to the fact that Myrtha will not relent to sparing Albrecht's life and she has to dance in his place to let him recover. What made me write this very long thread is not only a desire to compare and contrast two performances exactly 50 years apart, but that were performed in exactly the same place, but also since I'm a great admirer of both the Bolshoi Ballet and Royal Ballet I read a lot of reviews not only from professional critics but from the public who are really wild balletomanes. It just bothered me that someone from ballet.co.uk would say that Alina Cojocaru's Giselle was so perfect that it would be a moot point to see anyone else in the role today, which I feel is tremendously unfair for other great ballerinas. And it raises a whole other issue of "perfection in art". I don't think perfection in a role can be achieved. There are always nuances to be discovered. So the question I'm raising is: can anyone, such as a legendary dancer, be so perfect in a role that any other performances can be seen as inferior or is there always something new that a dancer can bring to a role even if it's centuries old? I know that maybe my views on Cojocaru are a bit controversial, but it's just the way I feel after seeing her Giselle and Galina's. Mine is just one example among hundreds, but I'd love to hear other examples of many other roles and many different dancers.
  25. Interesting that you didn't like Nureyev and Fonteyn since they're hailed as two of the greatest dancers of the 20th century. I have Margot's Cinderella and I thought she was quite lovely. I also have her Sleeping Beauty and although she doesn't have high extensions or incredible elevation in her jump, she has such musicality, regal presence and lyricism that it makes her compelling in that role. I'd love to hear your opinions on this.
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