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I just bought the film from Kultur called Classic Kirov................I have to say that the footage I saw blew me away. It showed me many things I had never seen before as far ballet dancing goes. I am not really familiar with the dancers of old, as far as the way that they danced goes and my purchasing this film has definatly got me interested in seeing more DVDs/videos of old performances.......

I was really suprised by the 1940 film of Chabukiani and Dudinskaya in thier stream-lined movie version of the Shades scene from Bayadere. Dudinskaya had incredible balance and she turned REALLY fast - I mean she would put a figure skater to shame - but she was so sloppy! Her passe's while in supported pirouette were turned in and out of place, her port de bras had no "classical structure" if you get my meaning - there was really no "technical correctness" in the way she held her arms while preparing to do turns, etc....... even in those days, were'nt there "correct ways", "rules" if you will, as there are today, as far how one is supposed to hold thier leg in passe, present thier arms in classical positions, etc.? It was the same thing in the HILARIOUS film of her and Sergeyev in another stream-lined movie version of scenes from Raymonda. I found Sergeyev to be absolutly comical, with his tights sagging off his butt, and his very stout, chubby stature. Dudinskaya was radiant of course with her INCREDIBLE balances, but again, there were times, especially when Sergeyev was dancing his variation (with un-pointed feet and legs not fully straight) when I thought "why are they so sloppy?"

Another piece of footage was of Kurgapkina and Soloviev in footage of fragments from Act I of Don Q. As with many other pieces of film in this video, the tempi was VERY fast when compared with what we are used to today. But aside from the difference in tempo, I must say that the acting was far better, and much more rich and detailed then what one would see in modern day performance (this fim is from the 60's), and that technique seemed to be 2nd place when it came to tellling the story, and showing the relationship between Kitri and Basilio. I was suprised to see Soloviev in character shoes instead of ballet slippers. It made me realize why dancers like Nureyev and Baryshnikov made such a sensation when they made thier debuts.

There was also a fragment of film of Pavlova dancing 'Dying Swan'. It was beautiful, though the dancing was very antiquated......she had gorgeous feet! It was the same with a film of Vecheslova in footage from Sleeping B. from circa 1930 - her dancing was of the same school as Dudinskaya's.

Trained as well by Vaganova, there was a film of Kolpakova dancing the Grand Pas adagio from Nutcracker in the Vaionen version (very 'al la Rose Adagio' with 4 suitors as well as the lead cavalier). It was night and day when compared with Dudinskaya! This was a VERY young Kolpakova in this black and white film - thoug it was maybe a 20 or 25 year difference from the Dudinskaya/Chabukiani Bayadere film. She was superb, not at all the more reserved ballerina it seems she became later in her career. She was opulent, and gradiose - with marvelous technique and placing - it made me think of the DVD I have of Larissa Lezhnina dancing the same role in the 1990 Kirov Nutcracker - Lezhnina looks exactly, and dances just like Kolpakova in the footage in this video.

Another one that deserves mentioning was a piece of film from a 1940's movie version of the Khachaturian ballet "Gayane". It was not really all that great, but one thing that REALLY threw me was this one part where the lead ballerina makes her entrance riding in on a horse. When she made her way onto the stage, I took notice of the horse that she was on, and I thought - "Man - THAT IS ONE BIG HORSE!" The horse was towering over everyone - the dancers in this film probably came up to the top of the horses legs - I mean this was like a horse that deserved to be in the Guiness Book of World Records! But then, I suddenly realized that it was not that the horse was big, its that the dancers were SOOO SMALL! I could not believe it! They were all really tiny! It was such a contrast with the dancer of today at the Kirov (like the 5'10" Lopatkina for example).

After watching this video, I also realized how HUGE, a ballerinas feet look today in point shoes - when she isnt on point mind you - compared with a ballerina of old - not one ballerina in any of the footage in this video had HUGE feet - they all has very pretty feet. Obviously they were alot smaller so thier feet didnt look as big when in point shoes. There are some ballerinas today, the tiny ones, like Lezhnina or Durante that have gorgeous feet still when not up on thier toes. But the really tall ballerinas - for example - the Kirov's Pavlenko or Lopatkina that have really big feet when they are not on full point.

After all I have said, what do you guys think?

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I haven't seen this film, but it may put things in perspective a bit to know that Dudinskaya was famous for her excellent technique in her day. You may also wish to see her dance Carabosse (en pointe) in the 1964 film of Sleeping Beauty with Sizova and Soloviev. Having been one of those who just didn't "get it" when it came to older dancers for quite some time (with some of them, I still don't) I have to say it takes quite a bit of viewing to see what people loved so much about them, and sometimes their technique and positions really are much better than they may seem at first glance.

But aside from the difference in tempo, I must say that the acting was far better, and much more rich and detailed then what one would see in modern day performance (this fim is from the 60's), and that technique seemed to be 2nd place when it came to tellling the story

As it should be! :devil:

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"We've come a long way baby!" :devil:

The development of classical technique in Russia is an on going project. Vaganova began her tenure at the Petrograd Choeographic School (now The School of Russian Ballet named for A. Vaganova aka Vaganova Academy, St. Petersburg, Russia ) in 1921 at which time she began to codify her ideas on teaching. She and others combined and analysed the teachings of Cecchetti and Preobrajenska to develop what is today commonly refered to as the Vaganova method.

As with any methodology (in anything), there is constant analyzation for what actually is, in order to have further development. There have been vast changes in the application of teaching theories. Teachers are trained now in Russia, were as in Dudinskaya's time the training of teachers was only a thought. As the teachers developed, the students/dancers developed. It goes hand in hand.

Try to find video footage of G. Ulanova (graduated 1928), a contemporary of Dudinskaya (graduated 1931), also a student of Vaganova. There is a vast difference in style and technical level. They were two totally different types. They each had their "fourette" roles.

Also when looking at video footage of dancers from the film age remember, as has been explained to me by people who understand this matter, something is lost in translation due to film speeds.

I also had to learn to look at earlier film footage with a different eye.

FYI: N. Kurgapkina (graduated from Vaganova Academy 1947) is still working, teaching, coaching in the Mariinsky Theatre today. She is/has been one of the main coaches to many female dancers of the Kirov today. Some of them we actually call their Stars. Kurgapkina, until the late 1980s was similtaneously a graduating class teacher in the Vaganova Academy.

Edited by vrsfanatic
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krasovskaya's monograph on VAGANOVA, now helpfully translated and published by U. of Florida Press details how highly vaganova thought of dudinskaya. krasovskaya assesses that n.dudinskaya was a.vaganova's all-time favored ballerina, if my recent reading of the book is accuarate.

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Nureyev for one was a great admirer of Dudinskaya and danced with her in the late 1950's in "Laurencia". He said that she had a way of stopping time with her balances and turns. However, I also think that much of what we see in the 1930's and 1940's is a reflection of the time in Soviet Russia.

Formalism and classicism were not much in fashion. Therefore prissy and precise (not my view but theirs) formal classicism was a reflection of an earlier and less enlightened time. You had to express passionate emotions and wild attack and if it was sloppy it didn't matter. It was supposed to speak to the masses what the "new" Russia was about on a basic visceral level. Extreme classical correctness was a throwback to the manners and rigid social codes of Czarist Russia.

There are many who considered Soloviev to be technically superior to both Nureyev and Baryshnikov technically. One ballerina who tragically has no extant film is Alla Shelest, the conoisseur's ballerina and supreme stylist whose career was blighted by inside politics and rivalries.

There is a lovely black and white filmed segment of Sergeyev dancing Romeo with Ulanova in the ballroom pas de deux that was done around 1941 or so that shows him looking young and sleek, no baggy tights or sagging butt back then!

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I'm looking forward to that Kirov DVD, too.

Not having seen it yet,. I may be "a bt previous" in thinking that what you say, Solor, about Dudinskaya's arms may reflect the style of the times.... BUT if you look at old movies of western ballerinas like Zorina (whom Balanchine adored), they used the arms differently than we do now, the elbows are square not rounded, they stick out peculiarly and it looks VERY strange to my eye.....Check out "Goldwyn Follies"

I* do* wish I'd seen Dudinskaya live. She must have been thrilling. It's clear she could do amazing things, and that she was tempestuous capabilities.... the one role I HAVE seen, and everybody should, is her Carabosse, on pointe and dancing like a whirlwind IN a whirlwind in the wonderful Sleeping Beauty that stars Sizova (whose dancing was an absolute revelation to me and remains the greatest Aurora I've ever seen her FIRST variation is perfection, sauts de chats that will make you gasp, and yet so restrained, so noble).

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On this video absolutely splending is the cast of "Gayane". Alla Shelest is dancing with Semion Kaplan, Hikolay Zubkovsky with Tatiana Vyacheslova, Igor Belsky with Hina Anisimova. I was amazed by the intensiveness of their dance, like it was the last performance in their lives and tomorrow they are going to dye.

Solor, Hikolay Kovmir is dancing with Kurgapkina "D.Q.", not Soloviev.

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