Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
Magnificent scenic effects and dramatic choreography have ensured the popularity of Petipa?s exotic ballet Le Corsaire, a story of pirates and shipwreck, set on the Ionian coast. This production features the Kirov Ballet w... more »
Unbelievably silly ballet; great dancing
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 03/31/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Not all ballet music is created equal. Le Corsaire's "score" is one of the "less equal" of classical ballet. Because it's a pastiche of six (count 'em) composers, there's no cohesiveness or continuity whatsoever in the ballet. Things feel and sound like either: 1. pas de deux music, which always has a lot of harps and strings; or 2. filler junk. The plot of Le Corsaire is also unbelievably silly and convoluted. In short: A pirate's crew is shipwrecked, said pirate falls in love with a harem girl, buys her, but then his servant betrays his master, kidnaps girl ... And oh, really, who cares.
The reason Le Corsaire has any hold over the ballet repertoire at al is because it requires a large cast, and everyone has his/her "moment" in the spotlight. It's really a dance extravaganza with only a bare-bones plot; even the corps don't really get much attention. But it's a great piece for showing off technique or charisma. Incidentally, the "slave pas de deux" (most famous moment of the ballet) was the calling card of Rudolf Nureyev. He danced it for his Vaganova academy graduation (a tape still exists) and in the West as a showpiece. The pdd remains a great favorite of ballet galas, although both the Kirov and the ABT present it as a pas de trois with Medora, Slave, and Conrad, as that is closer to Petipa's original choreography.
There are two video versions of Le Corsaire: this Kirov one, and a version from the American Ballet Theatre which was incidentally staged by the great Kirov ballerina Natalia Dudlinskaya. The two videos both feature incredible dancing, but the companies differ in their approach. The ABT seems to have realized that the story is a joke, so the dancers (especially the men) play up everything for camp. The Kirov doesn't take the story very seriously either, but their approach is to just let their lead dancers show off. For instance, Medora (Altynai Asylmuratova) makes her stage entrance and immediately executes a series of high kicks and leaps that would make the Rockettes jealous.
I'll just spend the rest of the review comparing the videos:
PRODUCTION - ABT wins hands down. The Kirov's Corsaire looks slightly old and ragged, like many company warhorses. The video quality is not as clear. Moreover, the Kirov performance is one of those 'fake live' ones where the dancers dance but applause is tracked in later.
DANSEURS - A close call, but I'd give the nod to the ABT. Both Conrads (Yevgeny Neff for Kirov and Ethan Stiefel for ABT) are the male weak links. They don't dance badly, but they aren't particularly memorable either. Farukh Ruzimatov is the slave for Kirov, Angel Corella for ABT. This one's a draw -- Ruzimatov has a natural Tartar exoticism that kind of works for this role, but Corella's dancing is more exuberant, and Corella seems to be having more fun. For Lankedam the evil slave trader is, ABT wins. Vladamir Malakhov is wickedly funny and over-the-top, in his bright red outfit. Konstantin Zaklinsky also tries for some comic relief but he isn't quite as funny or talented as Malakhov.
BALLERINAS: Here, the Kirov wins, no question. As Medora the slave-girl of vaguely Mid-Asian descent, Altynai Asylmuratova is just perfect. She looks extremely Asian and exotic, and really has the kind of belly-dance-goes-ballet thing down pat. Her Medora is also personally adorable. In the famous "slave" pas de deux Altynai has trouble finishing her 32 fouettes but she does them anyway. Julie Kent, OTOH, has a kind of homogenized, bland dancing style that isn't quite as compelling to watch. Her Medora is just a smiley girl-next-door. In one bizarre scene, Julie Kent has a mile-wide grin as she's being bound and kidnapped.
The smaller part of Gulnare is taken by Elena Pankova for the Kirov and Paloma Herrera for the ABT. Herrera is very strong technically, with an extremely solid, unadorned style. Pankova is light and feathery, sort of a "floater." Both are good, but I think Pankova is more believable as a barely pubescent slave girl. But one plus in the ABT video is that a then-unknown Gillian Murphy has a brief solo as one of the odalisques, and she shows her older colleagues how it's done. Triple pirouettes, plus a majestic presence that shouts, "I AM HERE, WATCH ME DANCE."
I think both ABT and Kirov videos are worth getting for balletomanes. In the end, I'd have to give the "dancing" nod to the Kirov, and the "concept/production" nod to the ABT."
A superb Corsaire
Gillian Buchanan | London, UK | 06/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have seen no less than three Corsaire's now in different productions and this is easily the best. The dancing is absolutely superb, the costuming and sets are beautiful and the whole production is a joy.
Although Pankova is my favourite of the Kirov dancers and she is beautiful as Gulnara, I loved Asylmuratova in this performance and the whole company's performance sparkled throughout. The production is exciting and never flags for a second, and you're on the edge of your seat the whole time waiting for the next piece of fantastic dancing, to the point that you want to watch it all over again when it's finished. The section entitled Le Jardin Anime is particularly lovely and the Pas de Trois which was made famous as a Pas de Deux by Fonteyne and Nureyev is also wonderful.
Buy this. I can't recommend it too highly."
About the quality of the image
movie buff | Seattle, USA | 11/02/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The worst thing about this DVD is that it's in letterbox format (4:3).
The quality of the video is pretty good. It should look pretty good on a conventional TV, but it's okay even with a HD TV.
The quality of the dancing is quite good as well.
It's not the most recent production, so people who know ballet may feel that the costumes, lighting, and the set are not the most up to date style. But this would be a good DVD to keep in your ballet DVD collection.
But I still like the ABT version of Le Corsaire better."
Little Antiquated but worth it
Satish Kamath | 04/02/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Had I written this review 10 years ago, I would have given it the full five stars. The masters of this DVD could have actually re-processed it a bit to make it a little clearer. Just pure laziness and a 'take it or leave it' attitude I guess.
This performance has just about every mark of greatness of execution that can ever be expected. Seeing Asylmuratova and Pankova together.... that is what great stuff is made of. Music has been performed quite well and given the fact that it was recorded eons ago,very very acceptable recording.
I know people have gone gaga over Ruzimatov. Frankly, he just doesn't compare well enough with ever so many others. In fact the old tape of Rudolph Nureyev dancing the slave dance is about the ultimate one can think in terms of this. I have seen another recording of Ruzimatov's performance in London of the same stuff in the Makarova's first reunion with the Kirov with practically the same cast. Ruzimatov has this totally unacceptable expression on his face as though he troubled by a nasty smell all the time. Just observe it next time you watch it..
There is only that much you can do with this ballet, and I don't think I shall BUY another even if it comes out in High Definition and wide screen, UNLESS the newbies come up to Asylmuratova/Pankova standards. The men other than Ali don't have too much to do anyway, with the exception of that one slave dance, which has so far never matched the old Nureyev recording. Not to my knowledge."