Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|BOLSHOI Soloists Classique|
Actors: Nina Tinofeyeva, Mikhail Lavrosky, Mikhail Fokine, Bolshoi Company
Director: V.I.E.W. Video
Genres: Indie & Art House, Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
In a testament to the Bolshoi Ballet legacy, this newly discovered film on DVD, Bolshoi Soloists Classique, features the grace, beauty, and perfect control of Nina Timofeyeva and Mikhail Lavrosky, son of the renowned chore... more »
Rick | Detroit, MI | 12/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have always respected Nina Timofeyeva, the star of this offering, for her performance in the 1977 ballet film "Spartacus" (starring Vladimir Vasiliev and Natalia Bessmertnova). But, she was one of the villains, and so it's difficult for me to cheer for her character to prevail. I wasn't quite as impressed with her in the 1970 performance (with Vasiliev and Ekaterina Maximova). I have also seen Timofeyeva in "MacBeth" (with Alexei Fadeyechev, 1984), but that's not a production that has held my interest over the years. Other than those ballets, I have only seen her in two very short excerpts which are too insignificant to mention. I do not believe that she appears in a wide variety of offerings primarily because Natalia Bessmertnova tended to dominate the spotlight in the Bolshoi. This ballet film is Timofeyeva's opportunity to shine as the center of attention. She delivers performances that are emotionally moving, dramatic, and technically challenging--transforming my view of her from just a first-rate ballet villain into one of the really great artists who I have a special place in my heart for.
First, she appears in "The Dying Swan" (music by C. Saint-Saens; choreography by M. Fokine). In my video collection, I have fourteen performances of "The Dying Swan" by nine different artists. My very favorite of these were given by Maya Plisetskaya and Galina Ulanova. However, each performance tends to be individual and personal, and rather than focusing exclusively on these two favorites, I find it valuable to have multiple performances to enjoy for variety. Timofeyeva's costume is the most beautiful of my collection. Her movements are very graceful, and her performance is beautiful enough to make me want to watch it over and over again. I would rank her performance safely in the second quartile of my collection, possibly the first.
In the summer of 2000, I began to aggressively build up my ballet performance collection. I found the videography section of Robert Grescovic's "Ballet 101: A Complete Guide to Learning & Loving the Ballet" to be extremely helpful. Timofeyeva earned a brief mention under "The Dying Swan." But, none of the remaining excerpts on this film are mentioned, which is puzzling to me given the very high quality of the dancing. Nevertheless, these excerpts can nicely add to a ballet collection because I am not aware that they can be found on other DVDs.
The medley from "Porgy & Bess" is my least favorite of the DVD, but it is at least interesting to see Timofeyeva (with Mikhail Lavrovsky, the choreographer) in very different music, mood and costumes than usual. It's logical to conclude that the extra dancers used here are not actually from the Bolshoi, but rather from "Artists Ballet Gart USSR"--which is mentioned in the credits without any more specifics. Obviously, Timofeyeva and Lavrovsky were Bolshoi soloists for many years.
"Adagio" [in G Minor] by Albinoni is often included in "best of" compilations of classical music from the baroque era. It's a very beautiful piece of music that has stood the test of time, and it gets played on classical radio stations. Timofeyeva did her own choreography, and it showcases her dramatic ability. She is ably partnered by Anatoli Grigoriev, who I know nothing else about. I enjoy the lifts, and the central theme is the sign of the cross. I've loved that piece of music for a long time, so it's special to me having her interpretation of it to enjoy.
"Pas de Deux Classique" by A. Adam is the most impressive technical offering of the film. At one point Timofeyeva does eleven straight double fouettes! Then, the camera changes angle (possibly hiding a mistake?), and then she does a few more. While I am aware of more recent artists who have recorded similar multiple turns in impressive fashion, I cannot think of any other dancer from Timofeyeva's era (or earlier) that was able to accomplish that. This raises the question of whether the double fouettes were routinely done in performances--or just before a camera where multiple takes are possible. She is again partnered by Lavrovsky, and it is striking just how perfectly matched for each other they are. They are both wonderfully complete and polished dancers of high technical ability.
It would be interesting to know what the original purpose of this film was considering these three factors: 1.) the usage of the sign of the cross in Adagio; 2.) the inclusion of some Western music; and 3.) some of the costumes are very high on sex appeal and are not generally typical of Soviet era ballet. [This is unfortunate, because it unnecessarily distracts from the dancing which stands on its own.] I have to wonder if this film was originally intended for a French television audience rather than for Russia--but that's purely speculative.
I remember considering purchase of this title several times over the years, but I had always opted against it. I have generally found VIEW Video offerings to have good dancing, but the run times are usually pretty short. Therefore, I came to the conclusion that they were not the best values, relatively speaking. It took me ten years to get around to purchasing this. Now, I wish that I had done it much earlier, because the dancing is fantastic, and it makes a valuable addition to my collection despite the short run time (the main feature lasts approximately 35 minutes, while extras constitute the rest of the advertised length).
The grace exhibited in "The Dying Swan," the drama of "Adagio" and the fine display of technique in "Pas de Deux Classique" make me wish that there was a commercially available performance of "Swan Lake" starring Timofeyeva with Lavrovsky. But, at least we have this, and Nina Timofeyeva has delivered something very, very special to be valued and treasured for its excellent artistry.