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VAI is releasing some historical Bolshoi Ballet films:

The Stone Flower

VAI DVD 4411, $34.95

Gala 1979 performance by the Bolshoi of Prokofiev's final ballet, starring Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev. The strong supporting case includes Svetlana Adirkhaeva as The Mistress of the Copper Mountain and Vladimir Levashov as Severyan. The Bolshoi Theater Orchestra is under the direction of Alexander Kopilov. Bonus: Pas de Deux from Anyuta with Maximova and Daukayev.. Color, mono, 116 minutes.


VAI DVD 4410, $29.95

Legendary dancers Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev star in this powerful 1982 film adaptation of the ballet. Based on a story by Chekov, the beautiful score is by Valery Gavrilin, and the choreography is by Vasiliev himself. The supporting cast includes Gali Abaidulov, John Markovsky, Anatoly Gridin, and Marat Daukayev. The State Dmitri Shostakovich Leningrad Orchestra is under the direction of Stanislav Gorkovenko. Bonus: Pas de Deux from The Stone Flower, with Maximova and Vasiliev. Color, mono, 72 minutes.

Galina Ulanova in the Bolshoi Ballet

VAI DVD 4426, $34.95

Paul Czinner's acclaimed 1956 filming of the Bolshoi Ballet's first-ever tour of Great Britain, which preserves two complete programs: a Bolshoi Highlights Program featuring Raissa Struchkova in the Walpurgisnacht from Gounod's Faust, and Galina Ulanova in The Dying Swan; and a thrilling performance of Giselle with Ulanova and Nikolai Fadeyechev. Also included in the Highlights Program is the celebrated Spring Water ballet, set to music by Rachmaninoff and danced with dazzling virtuosity by the outstanding members of the Bolshoi troupe. The Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra are under the direction of Gennadi Rozhdestvensky and Yuri Faier. Color, mono, 95 minutes.


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I recently have been on something of a dance film kick with the NYPL collection.

The Galina Ulanova Bolshoi film is about 90 minutes long and has a condensed version of "Giselle" truncated down to just under an hour. It was filmed in color by Paul Czinner on the occasion of the triumphant 1956 London visit and the VHS release by VAI could have come from a sharper, better print. Hopefully some restoration was done to the negative for the DVD release. Ulanova performs "Giselle" and "The Dying Swan". We get some character dances from "The Fountain of Bakchisirai" and "Swan Lake" and the "Spring Waters" pas de deux with unnamed soloists and the "Walpurgisnacht Ballet" starring the ebullient Raisa Struchkova. Hopefully VAI will get around to Paul Czinner's "Royal Ballet" film with Fonteyn dancing a marathon program of "Ondine", "Firebird" and "Swan Lake Act II".

The "Anyuta" is superbly acted by all especially Maximova who has a glorious drunk scene and it is not overlong - just over an hour. It is a very bittersweet tale that ends on a sad note. Vasiliev plays the character role of Maximova's ne'er do well music teacher father.

The "Stone Flower" film with Vasiliev and Maximova is a bit of a discovery. I know that the couple telecasted a "Sleeping Beauty" and "Nutcracker" on Soviet TV in the 70's but I never saw a clip of this. Films of them in their prime are rare.

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when i gave a quick read to the list of upcoming releases, i assumed, that the ulanova/bolshoi film might be the one listed below. this b&w overview of ulanova's career used to be shown at russian ballet film screenings (in the age before home video) often alongside PLISTESKAYA DANCES, which is on video, but for some reason this similarly made film has not been seen much since its release.

Galina Ulanova (Motion picture) 1964. 37 min. sd. b&w.

Producer: Central Documentary Film Studios, Moscow. Directors: Leonid Kristi and Maria Slavinskaya.

A documentary of the life and art of Galina Ulanova. Includes sequences of her performing principal roles from Swan lake, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, The dying swan, and Les sylphides.

Commentary in English.

the VAI release called GALINA ULANOVA IN THE BOLSHOI BALLET was originally released as THE BOLSHOI BALLET, and always included the truncated Giselle.

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