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Vladimir Vasiliev


MakarovaFan

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I had one of the greatest video ballet experiences of my life the other day watching the Bolshoi production of Spartacus starring Vladimir Vasiliev. I knew of him by reputation, but nothing prepared me for his Spartacus. What brilliant technique he had: dazzling speed, high, powerful jumps and beautiful extension. Vasiliev partnering of Bessmertnova was wonderful and the lifts effortless. The strength and control in the one-armed lifts were breathtaking. Vasiliev was also a good actor and had a dynamic stage presence.

I may be going out on a limb here, but I think Vasiliev was a better dancer than Nureyev or Baryshnikov. As demonstrated in Spartacus he was a complete package with no weak areas.

Melissa

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Actually Markarovafan it's not so far out on a limb to say that Vasiliev just might be better than Nureyev or Baryshnikov. I've heard it both said and written before.

Check out the chapter on Vasiliev in the book The Great Russian Dancers by Gennady Smakov(sp?). Wonderful pictures and commentary on him. I have a video of him dancing Don Q. full of fire and brio and unbelievably handsome! His jumps and turns take by breath away.

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Makarovafan & Perky, I concur! Of his generation, he was far and away superior in technique and artistic development than Nureyev and Baryshnikov. At that time, Vasiliev set the tone for what came to be expected of Soviet male dancers. For example, his Basilio in "Don Q" was groundbreaking. His innovations in this role, particularly the variation and coda in Act 3 are now standard. Smakov wrote in his essay in "The Greatest Russian Dancers," that Baryshnikov and Valery Panov "followed him (sic. Vasiliev) extensively." Smakov also quotes Fyodor Luphukov who, ".... pronounced him 'an unprecedented phenomenon with whom no one could be compared, including Nijinsky.' "

Another great tape to get, is what may have been his final "Nutcracker" with his wife Maximova at the Bolshoi - Kultur video 1987. They looked sooo young and in love, and they were perfect. It was the best "Nutcracker" I had ever seen. It was a fully realized performance and one of many definitive records of their partnership.

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I concur with all above - he was the greatest. Come to think of it, maybe he was the greatest male dancer I have ever seen - though I only saw him on video and films. Yet, he made a greater impression on me than all the rest. Just a great pity that he was from the era when dancers could not travel freely.

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I saw Vasileiv and Maximova on tour in Anchorage, AK sometime between 1990 and 1992, they were in a show called Stars of the Bolshoi or something of that sort.

They did excerpts from Cinderella and MacBeth that I remember, and I credit that performance with starting my real interest and devotion to ballet. I remember no details but for Maximova's sinuous jumps in a scarlet dress as Lady MacBeth.

I feel so privileged to have seen it.

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If my memory serves me, Vassiliev was fresh out of the Bolshoi School during the second tour of the Bolshoi to the U.S. He danced the male lead in The Stone Flower, with Timofeeva as the Stone Mountain Maiden and Maximova as the young girl in the earthly regions. Lord, was he young, blond and amazing. I can't remember really much beyond that, except to say that he struck me as exceptional, even if I felt the theme was pretty hokey. It definitely was the era when the Russians were taking U.S. audiences by storm with their technical capacities and emotional conviction.

Unfortunately, I never saw him again until he was the Russian juror at Jackson in 1990,

and then only with an entourage in off hours. Maximova was to have been a teacher at the International School, but left when the direction failed to introduce her properly.

The last I heard about Vassiliev was that he was staging works in Italy.

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I have a lovely book called "Young Stars of the Bolshoi Ballet" -- featuring Maximova and Vasiliev. They're still young to me, even though I didn't see them until about 10 years ago in a concert program. They were both past it, and both wonderful.

Hello Renee -- thanks for letting us know that Vasiliev was teaching in Italy. I wondered what he was doing.

Makarova fan, I think that video is also stunning -- even though it is a bit hokey (the jumps against the red screen). But Vasiliev -- that's one of the most passionate, committed performances I've ever seen, and it's on my Top 10 Request lists for when I get to Heaven (to see it, live, 1960s version).

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Alexandra,

I'm glad you enjoy the SPARTACUS film as much as I do. In my opinion, every ballet lover should add it to their collection -- hokey red screen and all. Vasiliev looks and dances like a GOD in that film. You put it very well: so passionate and committed. :wub:

I was at the Lincoln Center Library the other day and watched a 1986 documentary about the Bolshoi. In it Grigorovich told an anecdote about SPARTACUS. He weighed Vasiliev before a performance of the ballet and immediately after it ended. In the course of the evening he had lost 6 kilos (I think that's the rough equivalent of 5 pounds). It says a lot about the demands of the choreography and the 200% commitment Vasiliev put into his performance.

This documentary also featured wonderful clips of a young Vasiliev dancing a solo from LAURENCIA circa 1964. What thrilling dancing: lightning fast pirouettes, high jumps, beautiful ballon, and a marvelous sense of style. The program also featured a bit of Vasiliev dancing Act I of Giselle with Maximova in 1969 and he partnered her sublimely. At one point Vasiliev was interviewed and he remarked that, 'I didn't have the perfect physical attributes of the great male dancers.' As you can imagine, I nearly fell out of my chair upon hearing that.

:speechless:

Okay, I'll stop gushing about Vasiliev for the time being... :)

Melissa

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Of his generation, he was far and away superior in technique and artistic development than Nureyev and Baryshnikov. At that time, Vasiliev set the tone for what came to be expected of Soviet male dancers.
In today's links, there is an article about the upcoming visit of State Ballet Theatre of Russia to Florida in a production of Cinderella choreographed by Vassiliev. In it, the Managing Director of Hollywood Entertainment Group, Igor Levin, who was responsible for bringing the troupe to the US, said,
"He is the male dancer of the 20th century, better than Nureyev or Baryshnikov. They just got very nice publicity because they left Russia -- it was all political."
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firstly, is this vassiliev certainly the dancer vladimir viktorovich vasiliev?

as we know there are often confusions w/ this name. there is also the choreographer vladimir lubovich vasilyov, sometimes spelled vasiliev and other variants, who worked w/ kasatkina on creating a number of ballets and who is in no way related to vladimir viktorovich vasiliev.

secondly, even if one sees a 'truth' beyond personal preference/opinion in touting vladimir viktorovich vasiliev over nureyev or baryshnikov, what does this once great soviet dancer's performing career have to do w/ his skill as a choreographer?

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firstly, is this vassiliev certainly the dancer vladimir viktorovich vasiliev?

From the context of the article, unless the promoter is pulling a fast one, yes. I do remember reading that VVV had choregraphed for Vinogradov's company (in Australia?).

secondly, even if one sees a 'truth' beyond personal preference/opinion in touting vladimir viktorovich vasiliev over nureyev or baryshnikov, what does this once great soviet dancer's performing career have to do w/ his skill as a choreographer?
On the one hand, not much more than Nureyev's on his skill as a choreographer. On the other hand, from the Delouche documentaries, it's clear he has a very specific aesthetic about performing which is displayed in his coaching and staging, as well as more experience with Soviet and Russian versions of the story ballets, having danced them into his maturity, than Nureyev or Baryshnikov, who both defected when they were young. If these qualities translate into choreography and staging, I would think he'd have a voice worth listening to.

Brigitte Lefevre came to a different conclusion, based on a different hierarchy of values:

In those glorious years, [Nureyev] was the most phenomenal, charismatic dancer the world had ever seen. Comparisons with any Mikail Baryshnikov, Vladimir Vassiliev, or wonderful Edward Villela, are totally futile. Neither then nor since has a male dancer reached such heights of artistic fire coupled with heart-stopping, risk-taking technical feats. His was no vapid and anaemic prince, for with a sexy swagger he brought the great nineteenth century lovers back to life, giving credibility to every role I ever saw him dance . The moment he appeared one knew who he was for he became the role he danced.

The Paris Opéra Ballet Ten Years After Rudolf Nureyev: A Conversation With Brigitte Lefèvre

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Nureyev, Soloviev and Vasiliev were all phenomenal dancers and amazingly they all graduated in the same year. I honestly don't think you could say one was better than the other - they were so different. I know for a fact that Nureyev had huge respect for the other two. But one thing I do believe, we don't see dancers of that quality and that degree of commitment today.

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I'm seeing this Cinderella in early January.

The following LINK makes the direct connection between this production and the Vasiliev we are famliar with. Curreht promotional biography for Vasiliev is included:

http://www.maj.org/P2007/hegi_cind_Vv.html

Thank you for the link, bart. I knew I had seen this before, and thought, "wow, he's not blond anymore, he's a redhead now, (but not quite the orange of older women I saw in Russia)" but my Google searches were coming up lame.

Maybe that's because I typed it "Vassiliev" :(

I look forward to reading your review, and yours, too, MakarovaFan :)

What are the odds that Vasiliev will be travelling with the company and will appear at the stage door for photos and autographs?

If they were any good, I'd be on a plane in a heartbeat...

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I THINK it was VVV who choreographed the satirical ballet "Anyuta," which is (or was) available on video; it's set to Schostakovitch, i believe, and the music has a lot of bite to it. Maximova is brilliant in it. It's clever in some ways, corny in others.

Not bad choreographer -- but WHAT a dancer. if you haven't seen the SECOND-act pas de deux from Giselle, you must. The lifts are unbelievable; all effort is concealed, the trajectories are so clear, and she floats SO high in them.

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here's what NYPL dance coll. has for its ANYUTA listing:

Aniuta : Chor: Vladimir Vasil'ev; mus: Valery Gavrilin; scen & cos: Bella Kaplan Manievich. Made for Soviet television, 1982. Expanded for the stage: Naples, Teatro San Carlo, Feb? 1986; Teatro San Carlo Ballet, with Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasil'ev.

to connect this to the recent comments about the schaufuss DANCER series, the prog. about partnering includes wonderful footage, taken esp. for the prog. if mem. serves of vasiliev and maximova in the 2nd act adagio from GISELLE. schaufuss speaks over the beginning of the footage, somewhat annoyingly i find, but once he leaves the excerpt to the dancing, it's quite sublime.

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Couldnt agree more - that Giselle pas de deux is sublime. When one can say that only having seen it on a silly little screen, just imagine how that would have been live! Having seen a few Giselles in one's life, they all pale into insignificance. A dream scenario: to see Maximova-Vasiliev and also the Fonteyn-Nureyev one that brought the house down. It would have been very interesting comparing the two. Anyone seen either of these performances live?

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Couldnt agree more - that Giselle pas de deux is sublime. When one can say that only having seen it on a silly little screen, just imagine how that would have been live! Having seen a few Giselles in one's life, they all pale into insignificance. A dream scenario: to see Maximova-Vasiliev and also the Fonteyn-Nureyev one that brought the house down. It would have been very interesting comparing the two. Anyone seen either of these performances live?

Yes.

Dame Margot and Nureyev at least 15 times Maximova and Vasiliev once in London in 1969.

The latter pair at that time were not generally admired in Giselle by either the regular London audience or press. Vasiliev in Act I danced a non-standard interpretation with flashy technique and no sense of the Romantic period. Having considered him to be one of the best dancers of his time, his Albrect was a great disappointment. Maximova had wonderful technique, historic feet and danced marvellously well, but without a feeling for the Romanticism you would have expected from someone coached by Ulanova. I never saw them dance Giselle again and the filmed recordings are the only other time I have seen them in the role which has been discussed above.

There have been very vew partnerships in Giselle in my opinion to match Fonteyn and Nureyev even though legitimate criticisms have been made of their dancing. In almost every performance I saw of them, there were moments when you could not breath less it dispel the magic.

I watched Alina Cojocaru on BBC TV today and when you are divorced from a live performance in a way that enables you to analyse in a way that the immediacy of experiencing in a theatre does not allow, I found myself thinking how Fonteyn struck poses that are indelible in my memory. I am an admirer of both Cojocaru and Kobborg the latter seemed in a direct line of Romanticsm to male dancing that I witnessed in the early 1960's. What Cojocaru misses out on, despite her striking interpretation, is what Fonteyn did and that was, to make steps and poses authoritatively memorable, setting benchmarks of interpretation that you look for in others in the hope that they will match them, or replace them.

Fonteyn was truly a great dance actress whose perfection in the interpreation of was supported by her innate and intense musicality of movement, acting and mime. In the early 60's after having cured his noisy landings, Nureyev matched Fonteyn with Romantic ardour and intensity of expression that made the pulse run fast and the adrenalin to flow as the drama vividly unfolded before you. How could you not believe what was happening on stage, was not absolutely a real event.

Fonteyn knew how to nuance her every movement, investing them with a truth that is rare. Her face was not only telling the story so was the light and shade and the physical variation in weight given to the same steps, enhancing the storytelling in way which the artist no longer performs a role they become it.

Fonteyn was already an international star when she was inspired by Galina Ulanova seeing her dance Juliet and Giselle in 1956. The effect Ulanova had on audiences was inherited by Fonteyn in her own way. Fonteyn of course knew the legendary Karsavina and had studied with Imperial Ballerina's in Paris. Vera Volkova a Vaganova pupil also brought something to Fonteyn's manner of execution as did Ashton in making her away of her ability to communicate in an entirely feminine, lyrical youthful manner that remained for most of her career. When Nureyev danced Albrecht to Fonteyn's Giselle, he was also bringing an illustrious tradition and a meeting ground existed even before they began rehearsals. So much so, that the amalgamation of artistic intent was not as separating as the language barrier between them was at that time.

Nureyev was physically virile in his dancing, with an added grace that lent masculine poetry to his dancing. He was Errol Flynn and Richard Chamberlain at the same time. His execution of a series entrechat six in Giselle at that time was the stuff of legends. (Parodied by Nadia Nerina in Swan Lake shortly afterwards, when she performed entrechat six to the whole of the Black Swan fouette variation).

When passion and poetry meet in ballet, who can ask for more. For me Fonteyn and Nureyev were able to do this in Giselle and did so for a good number of years.

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Couldnt agree more - that Giselle pas de deux is sublime. When one can say that only having seen it on a silly little screen, just imagine how that would have been live! Having seen a few Giselles in one's life, they all pale into insignificance. A dream scenario: to see Maximova-Vasiliev and also the Fonteyn-Nureyev one that brought the house down. It would have been very interesting comparing the two. Anyone seen either of these performances live?

Yes.

Dame Margot and Nureyev at least 15 times Maximova and Vasiliev once in London in 1969.

There have been very vew partnerships in Giselle in my opinion to match Fonteyn and Nureyev even though legitimate criticisms have been made of their dancing. In almost every performance I saw of them, there were moments when you could not breath less it dispel the magic.

Fonteyn was truly a great dance actress whose perfection in the interpreation of was supported by her innate and intense musicality of movement, acting and mime. In the early 60's after having cured his noisy landings, Nureyev matched Fonteyn with Romantic ardour and intensity of expression that made the pulse run fast and the adrenalin to flow as the drama vividly unfolded before you. How could you not believe what was happening on stage, was not absolutely a real event.

Nureyev was virily physical in his dancing with an added grace that lent masculine poetry to his dancing. He was Errol Flynn and Richard Chamberlain at the same time. His execution of a series entrechat six in Giselle at that time was the stuff of legends. (Parodied by Nadia Nerina in Swan Lake shortly afterwards, when she performed entrechat six to the whole of the Black Swan fouette variation).

When passion and poetry meet in ballet, who can ask for more. For me, for a number of years, Fonteyn and Nureyev were able to do this in Giselle.

I never saw Vasiliev and Maximova in Giselle, but I did see Fonteyn and Nureyev. I can only concur with Leonid's eloquent description of F&N. :tiphat:

That magical partnership in this piece and others was what really hooked me into ballet back in the later 60s

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here's what NYPL dance coll. has for its ANYUTA listing:

Aniuta : Chor: Vladimir Vasil'ev; mus: Valery Gavrilin; scen & cos: Bella Kaplan Manievich. Made for Soviet television, 1982.

I absolutely loved this work, though I saw a section of it from Classic Arts Showcase. And they both were of age when they danced it. Both of them in the music - makes me smile; they're so cute. :off topic:

I have also seen some major clips from Spartacus with Vasiliev from the [amazing] documentary of Aram Khachaturian (on the documentary channel). I agree 100% - he's a true master, passionate, demanding...I don't have the words.... Spartacus isn't the same w/out him, as I saw a live perf. of the Bolshoi's in Oct. 2005 and was semi-let down. You just can't compare the PDD w/ N. Bessmertnova.

And is he not gorgeous in "The Humpbacked Horse" w/ Plisetskaya? The section I saw from CAS was when the horse reunites Vasiliev with the Maiden (Plisetskaya). When he surprises her and takes out his flute and enchants her, OH!, how wonderful their partnership and connection was. Their PDD showed a softer side to Vasiliev, even if Plisetskaya has a more demanding presence. After watching that, I knew that that was true art.

Is he still the artistic director of the Bolshoi? (wondering how long "Bolshoi Backstage" was... and the A. Khach doc. also)

What about Maximova? I'm ashamed to ask, is she still alive? if so, are they still married?

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