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Ballets Russes - the Film

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What an entertaining evening... What a romp it all seems to have been...

Is it just me, or did the Ballets Russes talent have a better handle on glamour than companies today do?

What was that Hollywood film Marc Platt was in? Wish I had a notebook with me.

Why was the Mort de Cygne movie footage so blurry? Often it seemed their source footage of some of the films was 3rd generation VHS... [i'm not talking Ann Barzell's footage, but some of the movie studio footage]... Anyone know why? Was it for effect? Something to do with rights? Has the original been lost? That's a wonderful movie as well...

Well narrated [Marian Seldes] and the music was allowed to carry the film in the way it surely carried the dancers, if not exactly contemporaneously. Loved how the Firebird music worked at the end of the film... I did find myself wishing to hear the music as the dancers were hearing it, though I understand why that wasn’t possible… and longing for some of the footage to be at the necessary frame-rate so that it didn’t look so speeded up.

I went expecting to put blinders on to get past the change in ballet technique and try to see how they must have seemed to audiences at that time, but how wonderful to still be impressed after all these years! The clips go by so quickly and with a poor recall they blend together for me, but wow Frederic Franklin sure flew around the stage in Scheherazade! He leapt off those stairs as if they were nothing. And George Zoritch! Talk about wanting to look like “x” at age “x”!

So much joy & so much love of dance… I know unions are a darn good thing and dancers deserve and need to be protected, but there was something to be said for the zeitgeist of crazy selfless devotion to the art the dance world of those days seemed to have. And the cultivation of glamour… Are our current companies as good at creating that kind of excitement? Or is that beyond the 21st century; if the ads reach for it now, they seem to be overreaching or grasping?

Loved seeing the Pas de Quatre footage (what was the cast in the footage?)

Jack, I don’t know how difficult it is to get the music close to what the dancers heard, I’m sure “Hollywood” could do it (are there foley artists that specialize in dance? Or is that only footfalls, not syncing up sound tracks…) but I’m not sure it’s within the resources of the typical documentarian?

And Ann Barzell, it’s wonderful to see her included, but was I the only one thinking that most people watching the movie would have no idea how much of the footage she provided (I hope there’s an interview with her about how she shot all that footage in the extra offerings on the DVD). Anyone know how much?

Can’t wait to see the “extras” that will be in the DVD.

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What an entertaining evening... What a romp it all seems to have been...

Is it just me, or did the Ballets Russes talent have a better handle on glamour .............. but wow Frederic Franklin sure flew around the stage in Scheherazade!  He leapt off those stairs as if they were nothing. 

 

Ballet Russe and Ballet Theatre were more glamourous then---as part of the 'waiting-at-the-stagedoor crowd' I can tell you that when the principals left the theatre they were dressed to the nines, none more so than Danilova--no sweats and sneakers for this crowd. Franklin was, indeed, a very good favorite slave, and he also did the 'Nijinsky spin' on the back of his neck.

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What an entertaining evening... What a romp it all seems to have been...

I went expecting to put blinders on to get past the change in ballet technique and try to see how they must have seemed to audiences at that time, but how wonderful to still be impressed after all these years!

So much joy & so much love of dance…  (T)here was something to be said for the zeitgeist of crazy selfless devotion to the art the dance world of those days seemed to have.

I haven't seen this yet, and I have to admit that I too feared being disappointed by the technical level, though I knew that the passion would be there.

Living as we are now in a time when technique and passion are often disassociated -- or when technique sometimes seems to be considered as a functional equivalent of passion -- it is good to hear that both are so evident in the dancing in this film.

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Great post Amy!

The technique level didn't bother me in the least because of the glamour, the devotion and the passion for what they were doing.

In my mind and eyes it's a real love letter to a great art form. I'm hoping to catch it again this weekend.

Happy New Year all.

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I thought I saw some formidable technique in the film, and several dancers who I'd love to have seen in roles Balanchine choreographed after his second phase with the Company.

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I have just returned from a screening of this film. I have to add my voice to the others here urging everyone to see it! I had actually avoided reading this thread until after seeing the film, so I wouldn't have any preconcieved ideas as to what it would be like, or be anxiously looking for any particular scene. The entire viewing experience was delightful. The first thing I said when the lights came up was, "That was excellent... when can I get the DVD?!?!" I have already signed myself up for the email notifications of its release!

I was struck by the impact that the dancers from these companies have had on the direction of the artform in this country (and around the world). Paul Vasterling, artistic director of Nashville Ballet, introduced tonight's screening of the film, and repeated what one of the Nashville dancers pointed out to him; that probably all of the dancers in the company have been, in some way or other, instructed and/or nurtured by Ballets Russes dancers, or first or second generations instructed/nurtured by Ballets Russes dancers.

I myself was fortunate to study with Rochelle Zide-Booth at Butler University, and was happy to see her included in the film (interestingly enough, earlier this year a legal dispute regarding the ownership of Ballets Russes scenery and costumes was ruled in favor of Butler University, giving the school posession of the artifacts.) I know that Mrs. Zide-Booth is living in Tuscon, AZ, and noticed that at least one other featured dancer is also in Tuscon. Does anyone know if there is a concentration of former Ballets Russes dancers in Tuscon?

Thank goodness the filmmakers took the initiative to make this film. Had they waited much longer, not all of those wonderful interviews would have been possible.

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I finally saw this film earlier today. It is just incredible; I spent two hours smiling and weeping - often at the same time. I've never been a ballet history buff, aside from an interest in the Diaghilev era, but this story is just fascinating. It is because of the passion and dedication of the people we see in this film that ballet as we know it exists in America today.

Anyone in NYC who hasn't seen it, it's down at the IFC (the old Waverly) on Ave. of the Americas between 3rd & 4th Streets. Only one show per day (11:35 AM) and while there was a decent group watching today I would not count on it playing there very long. Go and lose yourself in this magical footage. A deep "reverance" to the filmakers!

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Just returned from FINALLY seeing Ballets Russes with my daughter's ballet class. What a lovely, lovely film. How touching it was to see the love and the passion still radiating in the dancer's faces after all these years.

We all thoroughly enjoyed it. Brivagook, my thoughts were the same as yours when the film ended..."When can I get the DVD?" Thank you, thank you to the film makers for giving us such a treasure! :clapping:

Edited by Amy'sMom

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As everyone has said this is an excellent tribute to the dancers of another era with fascinating personalities telling a great story.

It has though one great fault. Most of the music is unsynchronised/wrong for the dance. How difficult could it have been to get a pianist and with the cooperation of the dancers record the correct music? For the more rare (and maybe lost?) ballets it may even have had some historical value (OTOH this is a dvd so if you're too annoyed you can press mute and whistle :clapping: )

The dvd is totally worth it, as it has more extras than I've ever seen on a ballet dvd. All the extras are very interesting with many more stories, anecdotes, and clips:

* Archival motion pictures (6'): extra archival material, again with little attempt to synchronise music and dance. Tallchief and Franklin in act2 of Swan Lake (1954), Franklin in a Russian Sailor solo from Red Poppy (1945), Tallchief/Danielian in Don Quixote pdd (1954), Slavenska in Don Quixote solo (1952), Alonso Youskevitch Giselle (1955), Krassovska in Raymonda (1946)

* Dancer Beginnings (10') Frederick Franklin, Markova, Zoritch, Tallchief and Alan Howard talk about how they started to dance

* Behind the velvet curtain (12') stories about Zoritch, Slavenska, dancer superstitions, the last meeting of Riabushinska and Baronova, the elopement of Baronova etc

* Ballets Russes collaborators (20'): the best of the extra features, with a remarkable story about how Stravinsky made Markova understand the Rossignol music, stories about Fokine, Balanchine, Massine, Nijinska etc This particular feature is almost as interesting as the film.

* The Rehearsal studio (16'): Zoritch and Krassovska coach 2 Bolshoi dancers in Spectre de la rose, Frederic Franklin in Cincinnati Ballet's Romeo and Julliet and coaching Devil's holiday, Alicia Markova coaching students in London, Alan Howard coaches a Trocadero dancer, Krassovska in Dallas.

* Wakefield Poole as a film-maker (3') and some Yvonne Craig

* 2 photo slide shows, beautifull photos of dancers featured in the film and not (somewhere around 180 photos).

* photo gallery of programme covers.

The region 2/PAL DVD I got came without the 12 page booklet it was supposed to have. If anyone gets the booklet I'm curious to know what's in it.

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"... earlier this year a legal dispute regarding the ownership of Ballets Russes scenery and costumes was ruled in favor of Butler University, giving the school posession of the artifacts."

I was very happy see that this dispute was ruled in favour of Butler University. Some years ago I was astounded and most happy to find photographs of such important scenic designs on the university web-site.

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Thanks so much, chris, for your detailed catalogue of the extras. I can think of no better advertisement -- other than the film itself!

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Another thanks, chrisk217!

I'm so glad there's more Markova than what made it into the documentary.

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The region 2/PAL DVD I got came without the 12 page booklet it was supposed to have. If anyone gets the booklet I'm curious to know what's in it.

My R2 DVD (from Amazon UK) didn't have a booklet, either. D'oh!

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It's quite possible then that it's just not availlable in the region2/PAL edition. There seem to be some other trivial differences in the extras with the NTSC edition as described in the film's website (namely no trailler, no english subtitles except where russian is spoken, no "Easter Egg" - no idea what that is - and no booklet)

But overall it's a wonderfull production.

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no "Easter Egg" - no idea what that is

By definition, you probably won't find the "easter egg" unless you make a concerted effort to go looking for it. It's usually a short & entertaining bit of footage which is hidden in the menus somewhere, so you have to experiment/go exploring to find it. It's not usually so significant that the people who haven't found out about it are really missing out, but it is usually worthwhile in some way. (Otherwise people would get annoyed!)

Wikipedia definition: Easter Egg

It might still be there, and you just haven't found it yet. Chances are that it'll be there the same as the R1 one. I'll go hunting for it later tonight, and post back if I find it.

In the meantime, here's an example of how to find an easter egg in the "Return of the King" special edition DVD, to give you an idea of how it might be hidden:

There are two on the Special Edition DVD. On either disk, scroll to the end of the chapter selection page and press down once more on the bottom one to highlight a hidden ring icon. Press enter to view: Disc 1, a gag interview with Dom Monaghan and Elijah Wood. Disc 2: the MTV movie awards spoof interview with Peter Jackson, Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughan

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I didn't have any luck finding any Easter egg, even by manually inspecting the DVD's titles and chapters on a computer.

It seems to me that the R1 DVD is a better bet. It's possible that the R1 Easter Egg just appears as a normal special feature on the R2 DVD, but a chrisk217 noted, the trailer and English subtitles are definitely missing, at the very least.

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I preordered from amazon. It is scheduled for release on Sep 12.

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:thanks:

Thank you, zerbinetta, for telling us about this deal from ABT in an e-mail:

As we look forward to ABT performing at City Center, it is a wonderful time to look back on dance history and legend with the film Ballets Russes. This highly acclaimed documentary featuring rare archival footage of the legendary company enjoyed rave reviews during its run at the Film Forum last year.

Today, we are pleased to offer ABT Members a special 25% discounted price on the Ballets Russes DVD, before it goes on sale to the public September 12. For every DVD purchased, $2 will go to support ABT programs. Simply purchase your copy through the link below!

All the best,

Leah Theriault

It says the offer is extended to ABT members, but I understand it is available to anyone.

BTW, thanks too, zerb, for getting ABT's okay to post it here. :flowers:

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A deal was also made with New York City Ballet; you will be glad to know that for every DVD purchased, $2 will be contributed to New York City Ballet.

Until 5 pm (EDT) on September 12, 2006, the Film Forum in New York City is offering DVD copies of Ballet Russes to NYCB patrons at a 25% discount off the list price of $29.99. NYCB patrons may purchase the Ballet Russes DVD for $22.49 (inclusive of sales tax, shipping and handling is an additional fee).

With an eye to the upcoming holiday season... Orders will be shipped not later than September 13 and will be sent by regular USPS mail.

Use this link to order:

http://boxoffice.printtixusa.com/filmforum...tem=GmnAeM1ZPeg

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Got notice today that it shipped from amazon.com, along with The Kumars at No. 42. I'm planning a very homebound evening when that package arrives.

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Mine (ordered from Film Forum) arrived early this afternoon. It's right here beside by laptop, but I haven't played it yet. I don't know if I'm more eager to re-view the film or go straight to the extras.

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I was sitting on an Air Canada flight to Washington in July, flipping through the movie choices, not hoping for much.

Then what covers my screen but Ballet Russes. I was delighted. That fight went quicker then any others previously. What a treat.

I have sworn off slagging AC for at least a little while...

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I recently got this dvd and I agree, it's a beautifully made film, and the extras (almost an hours worth) are even better. My slight complaint was that the extra dancing clips were obviously compiled by someone who didn't know a lot about ballet, because there was absolutely no attempt to synchronize the music to the movement. For example, there was a clip of Alicia Alonso's Giselle which was the Act 2 pdd but they used music from Act 1!

Otherwise this is a priceless documentary. It's amazing how beautiful and elegant many of the ballerinas and danseurs look, even in old age. It was wonderful to hear the dancers and their mixed emotions working with people like B. Nijinska, Fokine, and Balanchine -- an admiration mixed with more than a little resentment, I think, that these geniuses often treated them very poorly on a personal level.

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It's amazing how beautiful and elegant many of the ballerinas and danseurs look, even in old age. It was wonderful to hear the dancers and their mixed emotions working with people like B. Nijinska, Fokine, and Balanchine -- an admiration mixed with more than a little resentment, I think, that these geniuses often treated them very poorly on a personal level.

Yes, they were indeed so beautiful here, and Frederick Franklin was hilarious talking about 'the Russians.'

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