Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Yuri Soloviev

Paul Parish

Recommended Posts

The latest Ballet Review has a long article on the great mid-century Kirov dancer Yuri Soloviev that makes me want to hear anything anybody has to say about Soloviev. Please read it.

The essay is by Joel Lobenthal, and tells a fair amount about Soloviev's childhood, his training, his incredible elevation, and his lyrical, complex gifts as a dancer, his difficulties getting roles that did not fit his shape (short, with large thighs -- he was so short he was almost not allowed to continue at the Vaganova academy), his turbulent emotions, his suicide. When he caused a sensation in London as the Bluebird, it was not just because of his incredible technical powers -- elevation such as "had not been seen in London in three generations, " -- but because he did NOT use the role as a showcase.

"But it is not a showcase," he told Ballet Today; "The Blue Bird is a prince who has turned himself into a bird in order to see the Princess, and when he dances with her he is singing to her and she listens to his song."

To have such physical powers allied to such technique AND such a temperament, such an imagination! It makes me breathless just to think about him.

I have heard elsewhere -- Lobenthal does not mention this -- that some said Soloviev danced as if he were already dead inside. [oops, editing later -- yes he does quote a ballerina, Kolpakova I think, as saying late in his career "she couldn't reach him"] Others say quite the opposite, that there ws a fantastic stir of emotoins inside him. (Lobenthal quotes Kolpakova and Sizova, and Vinogradov says that Soloviev's way of "being Spanish" in Don Q was less a parade of mannerisms and technique than a kind of emotional expressivism -- which sounds to me VERY intriguing).

There are two photographs that break my heart -- one of him with his face full of -- I can only call it visionary hope, like the famous close-up in the Battleship Potemkin of the idealized sailor-youth, and an image of him in the Little Hump-backed horse, -- the only other person who has ever looked like this was Nijinsky, the poetry of his line is out of this world. (Ok, I'm exaggertating, but I can't tell you how beautiful he seems to me.)

Please take a look at this and comment.

Link to comment

Have you seen many films of Soloviev, Paul?

There was a Russian documentary about his life shown at Walter Reade Theater a few years ago with many amazing clips from his dance career.

Also, in the early Seventies he made a film of Grand Pas Classique with Gabriela Komleva which must be seen to be believed. I've never seen such batterie, ever. This film is actually available on a video, The Glory of Russian Ballet, Vol. 3 (or is that 2?). These are fantastic compilations. One has a film of Vera Koralli dancing a very Art-Nouveauish Dying Swan from 1911, which makes me think that perhaps there is something to Isabel Fokine's assertion that everybody is doing it wrong these days. But I digress....

From the films, Soloviev is astonishing, and would surely elicit gasps today, even from crowds used to the fireworks from the men at ABT. It's sad to think of what he might have accomplished had he defected.

Link to comment

That marvelous clip of Soloviev is on Vo. 3 of "Glories of the Russian Ballet". I bought the tape not knowing anything of him--and I was completely nonplussed. The closest I came to seeing his talents live on a stage was with Jean Babilee; their physiques are somewhat similar. It is a must see.

Link to comment

if you search amazon for SLEEPING BEAUTY KIROV you'll find some USED copies for sale. (or at least one copy) it would seem kultur no longer has this title on the current market tho' i could be off here.

here are the credits as given by n.y. pub. lib. for perf. arts at linc. cent:

The sleeping beauty [videorecording] / Lenfilm Studios ; directed by Apollinari Dudko and Konstantin Sergeyev ; choreography by Marius Petipa and Konstantin Sergeyev ; music by Peter Tchaikovsky.

U.S.S.R. : Lenfilm Studios, 1964 ; [u.S.] : Corinth Films, c1990 ; W. Long Branch, N.J. : Kultur.

84 min.) : sd., col. NTSC

Motion picture originally released by Lenfilm Studios in 1964; re-issued as a videotape in 1990 by Corinth Films, Inc.

Video reproduced in the letterbox format to preserve the original aspect ratio.

Libretto, Konstantin Sergeyev, Iosif Shapiro ; scenery, T. Vasilkovskaya, V. Nlitko, E. Yakuba ; photography, A. Nazarov.

Performed by the Kirov Ballet and students of the Vaganova Choreographic School.

Alla Sizova (Aurora); Yuri Soloviev (Désiré); Natalia Dudinskaya (Carabosse); Irina Bazhenova (Lilac fairy); Kaleria Fedicheva, Inna Korneyeva, Ludmila Kovaleva, Emma Minchenok, N. Sakhnovskaya (fairies); Natalia Makarova (Princess Florine); Valeri Panov (Blue bird); G. Kekisheva (white cat); O. Kuznetsov (Puss-in-boots); others.

Conductors: B. Khaikin, Y. Gamalei.

Cinematic version of Petipa's ballet. Act III, Aurora's wedding, is condensed; the divertissements include only the White cat and Puss-in-boots duet, and the adagio of the Bluebird pas de deux.

Link to comment

I haven't tried Kultur, but I went to Amazon and put in "Russian Ballet" as well as "Kirov Ballet" and "Bolshoi Ballet" -- there are a lot! But usually there are good notes or descriptions saying what's on what -- and some very good reader's (well, watcher's) reviews.

Paul, I haven't been able to read the article yet -- it's next on my To Do list. And I never saw Soloviev dance, except on video (the "Sleeping Beauty djb noted above, and a few other cliips shown at panel discussions). I hoped Marc would see this -- he had seen quite a bit, as I remember from earlier discussions.

Link to comment

try Russian Ballet: Glorious Tradition, which was marketed, tho' i'm not sure it's still on the market by VAI - video artistist international

perhaps this distributor has a website.

or THE GLORY OF THE KIROV, which is out in dvd in the UK and i THINK is out here in cassette: kultur???

Link to comment

Thanks, everybody -- esp RG, for hte research and for the pictures, which remind me a bit -- you too? -- of Fadeyechev, except that fabulous picture in b plus form, where he shows more of his rotation "Little Humpbacked horse." Lobenthal has by the way another one of the "genius of hte water," in arabesque with a rather Spectre de la Rose porte de bras, VERY beautiful....... it's fascinating how beautiful he is in second position, or as in your third picture, in B-plus......

i've been recommending that Sleeping Beauty video for years, for Sizova's performance -- but SOloviev's is just tantalizing, I want so much more han that..

Has any7one see n the fascinating Beauty filmed in Japan in hte 70's with Soloviev and Kolpakova that Lobenthal mentions?

I will seek out the glory of hte Kirov video...

Did any of you see his performances in New York and london in the 60's?

Link to comment

The Glory of the Kirov

The Glory of the Bolshoi

Russian Ballet: The Glorious Tradition (there are 3 volumes in the series)

The Magic of the Bolshoi

The Magic of the Kirov

Classic Kirov Performances

I haven't checked recently, but I wrote reviews of all of these (and more) on amazon.com, and they were there the last time I checked.

Link to comment

The "Beauty" performance with Kolpakova, Soloviev and Mezentseva dates from 1976. As far as I know it was filmed in Moscow (but published by Sony Japan, nla). It's indeed a remarkable document, if mainly for Kolpakova, a bit younger than on the better known film with Berezhnoi and Kunakova. The artistry of Soloviev shines through, although the 1964 version with Sizova is much preferable.

Any Soloviev admirer should get hold of that Russian TV documentary from a few years back, which had interviews with Komleva, Kolpakova, and Soloviev's widow, and a stunning collection of footage from the man in his prime. Featured among others were the well known "Grand Pas Classique", "Flower Festival of Genzano", solos from "Le Corsaire", Blue Bird pas de deux, Black Swan pas de deux, La Bayadère, and a mind-blowing variation from "Laurencia", even eclipsing efforts by Nureyev and Vasiliev. In my book some of the most awesome male dancing ever put on film.

Link to comment

fyi: in the ballet history topic/location, i've posted three photos of Y.S.

none alas are dated.

if these repeat anything already published in the recent BALLET REVIEW article (which i haven't seen) pardon the duplication.

Link to comment

I am intrigued that posters are referring to Soloviev's death as suicide. Has some new evidence come to light on this? The official line was that he died as a result of a hunting accident.

Shortly before his death I asked the Russian photographer Alexander Ukladnikov, who together with the late John Gregory published a book of photographs of Soloviev in Giselle, whether the suicide rumours were in fact true. He insisted that the cause of Soloviev's death was inconclusive and whether he died accidentally, committed suicide or (as some have speculated) was actually murdered, would never be known.

Is there now proof of suicide that was previously withheld?

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...