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My favorite company, VAI, has these new releases on DVD:

Romeo and Juliet - Prokofiev, Bolshoi Ballet

VAI, DVD: cat# 4260, $34.95 Now on DVD!

Leonid Lavrovsky's sumptuous 1954 Technicolor production of Romeo and Juliet starrring Galina Ulanova and Yuri Zhandov. Upon its initial videocassette release, the New York Times dance critic glowingly reported: "The famed 1954 film version of Leonid Lavrovsky's ballet with the great Galina Ulanova is hors concours {incontestable} as a classic."

A DVD extra is Ulanova in the second act pas de deux from Swan Lake. The conductor of the Bolshoi Ballet Orchestra is the venerated Gennady Rozhdestvensky.

Swan Lake - Tchaikovsky, Bolshoi Ballet

VAI, DVD: cat# 4261, $34.95 Now on DVD!

Maya Plisetskaya at her artistic and technical peak, in a 1957 color production of the Bolshoi Ballet's four-act Swan Lake in the dual role of Odette and Odile. Nicolai Fadeyechev is brilliant as Prince Siegfried. In a rave review the New York Times dance critic commented: "This Swan Lake is a treasure."

For an extra bonus chapter, you will be treated to a complete performance of Plisetskaya in The Dying Swan, one of her astonishing signature roles.

Spartacus - Katchaturian, Bolshoi Ballet

VAI, DVD: cat# 4262, $34.95 Now on DVD!

The famed 1977 Grigorovich film version of Spartacus starring Vladimir Vasiliev, Upon the film's release, the New York Times chief dance critic wrote:

"Vladimir Vasiliev dances and acts on a heroic level that is the performance of a lifetime. Maris Liepa matches him on every point magnificently as the villain, Crassus. With its phalanxes confronting the camera head-on and its slow-motion shots of Vasiliev soaring through the sky, the film takes its chances. It is also one of the best dance films ever made." Natalia Bessmertnova dances as Friggia. Also features Nina Timoeyeva. 95 minutes, Color.

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VAI has more Russian ballet releases:

Stars of the Russian Ballet

VAI, DVD cat# 4263, $34.95 Available January 27

A brilliant 1953 compilation of the best in Russian Ballet. Includes the history-making pairing of Galina Ulanova and Maya Plisetskaya in The Fountain of Bakhchisarai, Ulanova in an abridged Swan Lake, and the rousing athleticism of The Flames of Paris, a stirring tribute to the French Revolution. Other dancers featured in these performances are V. Chabukiani, N. Dudinskaya, N. Sergeyev, and P. Gusev. The solo dancers are supported by the corps of the Bolshoi Ballet and the Chorus and Orchestra of the Leningrad Opera and Ballet Theatre. 81 minutes, Color.

Plisetskaya Dances

VAI, DVD cat# 4264, $34.95 Available January 20

A stunning documentary on one of the 20th Century’s greatest ballerinas and the recipient of many international awards, Plisetskaya Dances has been hailed as “One of the most popular dance films ever made” (Dance Film Directory). Featured are excerpts of Plisetskaya performing excerpts from over a dozen of her greatest roles, including a mesmerizing complete performance of The Dying Swan and rare scenes from Romeo and Juliet. Other dances who appear in the film are Vladimir Vasiliev, Dmitri Begak, Maris Liepa, and others. 72 minutes, Black & White.

The Little Humpbacked Horse

VAI, DVD cat# 4265, $34.95 Available immediately

A captivating fairy tale of a ballet, starring the incomparable Plisetskaya and, as the hero of the story, Vladimir Vasiliev, who once again shines as one of the most charismatic male dancers of his time. The Bolshoi production is highlighted by a magical tour through the land of flying horses, dancing fish and tumbling clowns. Dazzling sets and a fine musical score will delight ballet lovers young and old.

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