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La Bayadere - The Royal Ballet
La Bayadere - The Royal Ballet
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2006     2hr 3min


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Movie Details

Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, DTS, Dance, Educational, Classical, Ballet & Dance
Studio: Tdk DVD Video
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 11/21/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1991
Release Year: 2006
Run Time: 2hr 3min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: Dutch, German, French

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Movie Reviews

Makarova's 1980 version of La Bayadere as staged for the Roy
MrLopez2681 | USA | 04/22/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The great Mariinsky Ballerina Natalia Makarova shares with the West her Russian heritage with this staging of "La Bayadere". Here we have a magnificent 1990 film of her version staged for the Royal Ballet a year earlier in 1989 (this version was originally staged for American Ballet Theatre in 1980, and the production shown here includes the same decor). Makarova's version is very stream-lined. The biggest change is Makarova's version of the long lost last act (mind you - this is NOT reconstruction, merely a completion of the original libretto. Although it is still not clear why the final act stopped being performed in Russia, one of the most widespread theories is that after the Revolution the Mariinsky Theatre lacked the technical staff required to produce the stage effects. It is possible that the sets for Act IV of "La Bayadere" were ruined when St. Petersburg was flooded in 1924). A very unfortunate change is Makarova's deletion of the Act II Grand Divertissement - the 'Danse Manu' (where a ballerina dances a pas d'action in an attempt to balance a water jug on her head, and still keep away the jug's contents from 2 thirsty little girls), the 'Danse infernale' (a frenizied number that seems more American-Indian than India-Indian), as well as the 'Charmeur des serpents' from the beginning of Act III. In light of the shortened second Act, Makarova's production changes the scene to Act I, scene 3.

But the biggest and most obvious differences is the revised Minkus score, done by John Lanchbery. Minkus's score for "La Bayadere" was orchestrated in the usual rushed fashion of the era it was composed in, with endless scoring for first violins and flutes to carry the main melodies. Nevertheless Minkus's original score has a wonderful antiquated charm. Although Lanchbery's orchestrations are entertaining in some sections, they are not that great, and in some sections they are horrible (or in the words of Clement Crisp, they are "gratuitous burblings"). His work however extends beyond mere orchestration - those familiar with Minkus's original score will notice differences in editing, as well as the complete omission of the opening theme of the original overture, which occurs throughout the ballet. The music for the final act, with the exception of the "Dance of the Golden Idol" (or Bronze Idol, as Makarova calls it), and the music which accompanies the dance for the corps de ballet (which is by Pugni) is all Lanchbery's own work. Here he does a good job, and is appropriate to the situation (his music for the "Destruction of the Temple" is really good).

The Prima Ballerina of the Kirov/Mariinsky Altynai Assylmoratova guest stars in this film as Nikiya, perhaps the greatest late 20th century interpretor of the role (today Assylmoratova is director of the renowned Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet). Irek Mukhamedov dances Solor, a Bolshoi trained power-house with obvious English style coaching since his arrival at the Royal Ballet in 1989 - making him a true Danseur Noble and exquisite performer. A young Darcey Bussel dances the role of Gamzatti. She is a lovely ballerina, with long legs, high extensions, and expressive arms. Her style, physique, and approach to ballet are not typical of Royal Ballet Danseuses, but she is very British in her dancing. She is a great actress as well (watch her and Assylmoratova in the 'cat-fight' scene in Act I, scene 2 where the heroines feud). Tetsuya Kumakawa dances the variation of the Bronze Idol, and his performance makes the ever so polite English audience get the loudest it ever got during this performance.

The corps de ballet does not hold a candle to the Kirov or the Bolshoi in the "Kingdom of the Shades" scene, but they give it thier all and do better than most (especially ABT, whos corps contains far to many ballerinas from different schools to be able to achieve true perfection). Due to the small stage of the Royal Opera House, Makarova was forced to reduce the number of the corps de ballet from 32 to 24 in "The Kingdom of the Shades" scene, as well as changing the poses of the ballerinas as they stand on the sides of the stage, due to the difference of physique from the Kiorv/Mariinksy Ballerinas to the Royal Ballet Ballerinas. The three shades solos are near perfect, if only the first two ballerinas would wipe those stupid smiles off of thier faces, as they have no business in the opulent "Kingdom of the Shades". But regardless of our first two shade girl's grins, all of the classical variations in this performance are examples of ballet dancing at its best, and the revised Minkus score by John Lanchbery gives the soloists a big drum roll at the end of a variation for added effect.

The greatest highlight of all in this film is the miracle that is Altynai Assylmoratova dancing in the scene "The Kingdom of the Shades". She gives the best performance I have ever seen live or on film. In her entrance she really does seem other-worldly. She dances this scene in the way it should be, with her Vaganova training showing through in the beauty of her severly arched backed, elaborate port de bras, clearly defined movements, and opulent carriage. Her technique is superb, but it never makes a spectacle of itself, and, as it should be, her artistry is the focal point. Never does her leg go higher than 100 degrees (unlike many modern ballerinas who insist on having their leg come into contact with the side of their head in an a la seconde), but the perfection of her placement is the true spectacle. She is divine in every way here, particularly in the "Grand adage", where she demonstrates that she is a true St. Petersburg Grand Ballerina; a well-deserved successor of the Ballerinas of old who once graced the stage of the Mariinsky.

In 2001, with the aid of the choreographic notation from Petipa's 1900 revival for the ballerina Mathilde Kschessinskaya, and of the recently re-discovered hand-written score of Ludwig Minkus, the Kirov/Mariinksy Ballet fully reconstructed "La Bayadere". The ballet was completely restored, music, sets, costumes and all. Hopefully the Kirov doesnt let this production stay absent from DVD or video for to long (as they have with thier reconstruction of the 1890 premiere of "The Sleeping Beauty" from 1999)- it would be a great disservice to the world of dance.
Makarova's Bayadere
Jose Brito | Estoril,Portugal | 03/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This production is as good as the Paris version (Nureyev's),though with different endings(Makarova's choreography follows strongly Petipa's version). Here with have four extra-brilliant stars:Absolutely divine Asylmuratova,Mukhamedov and Bussel dancing,Anthony Dowell playing the High-priest.Russian(Vaganova) and English schools,side by side, to compare.The sets are good,costumes rich,the "arabesque" scene done most nicely ,but 24 ballerinas instead of 32(as in Nureyev's version).The three shadows are extremely good ,notably V.Durante(later Vetsera in MacMillan's Mayerling,also with Mukhamedov)and Fiona Chadwick.
But the Garnier version is also beautifully danced (Guérin,Platel and Hilaire)and the "rampe en arabesque" is done with proficiency and sheer beauty, the scenery and costumes being exquisitely sumptuous.I'd say one must have the two versions."
Rain on a Parade
Douglas Cox | Palo Alto, CA USA | 08/03/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I hate to add a little rain to a parade of positive reviews, but I judge a ballet more on the beauty of the choreography (and of course the dancers' ability to dance that choreography) and the beauty of the music (and to a lesser extent, the beauty of the staging). This ballet doesn't have the beauty of choreography/dancing nor the beauty of music of: Swan Lake by the American Ballet Theatre, Sylvia by the Royal Ballet, The Firebird by the Royal Ballet, Manon by the Australian Ballet, Romeo and Juliet by the La Scala Ballet, La Sylphide by the Ballet de l'Opera National de Paris, or A Midsummer Night's Dream by the Pacific Northswest Ballet. It's a 3 star ballet in my judgement."
Makarova -choreography-La Bayadere
Pamela Lilian Burke | 09/14/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"An excellent production - Act 2 superb choreography for the Corps de Ballet - "Shades". A Royal Ballet 'A'
grade performance with some virtuoso dancing. This was definitely worth watching!"