Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Little Humpbacked Horse / Maya Plisetskaya Vladimir Vasiliev Bolshoi Ballet|
Actors: Plisetskaya, Vasiliev, Bolshoi Ballet
Genres: Kids & Family, Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
Old-Fashioned, but Rewarding
Rick | Detroit, MI | 08/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This ballet-film is of the Russian folk story of the little humpbacked horse. It features the Bolshoi Ballet, starring two dancing legends: Maya Plisetskaya and Vladimir Vasiliev. The promotional copy describes it as "a magical tour through the land of flying horses, dancing fish, and tumbling clowns...." This is primarily a ballet, although there have been some animation and other elements added to enhance the film.When I first purchased this title, I was somewhat restrained in my enthusiasm for it--primarily because of its comedic style--but as my ballet collection grew, I came to realize that I had overlooked and under-appreciated certain other aspects of it. There's some outstanding dancing here, but I fear that the tape may be of limited appeal because this production is old-fashioned. For me, that's not necessarily a problem, because I enjoy watching old ballets and movies. But if your tastes and sensibilities trend toward contemporary productions, then you might not be very well served by this movie. I remember Olympic gold medalist figure skater Peggy Fleming commenting recently on television that subtle comedy is one of the hardest things for an ice skater to attempt. In my opinion, it would seem so with ballet, as well. I've been fortunate enough to build up a fairly large collection of ballet videos and DVDs--well over one hundred of them--and examples of well-made tragedies are much more common in my collection than examples of good comedies. There's indeed some good humor to be found here, but I think that at times it gets to be a little too corny. As prospective purchasers of this video, I think that you'd be wise to read all of the reviews, as one person described it as "very dated in style." One of my on-line friends pointed out to me that you can always fast forward through certain sections of the tape, if necessary.But, enough of the warnings and on to the good parts! One of the things that I really respect about this title is that it was created during an era when the Bolshoi ensemble had a strong cast of character dancers. This ballet was filmed in 1961, and it's a disappointment to me that there aren't more videotapes and DVDs by the Bolshoi available from this time period. In this production, I enjoyed the gypsies and clowns, and I also appreciate how Ivan (Vladimir Vasiliev) does a very stylish job with the Russian folk dance aspects of his performance. (If you'd enjoy watching some fine gypsy dancing by the Bolshoi in another production, then check out the "Stone Flower" excerpt on "Bolshoi Ballet '67.")Other than "Swan Lake," I can't think of too many examples of ballets with demi-charactere corps de ballet work, meaning that the corps dancing has a unique and special character to it, although it's done on pointe while using techniques of classical ballet. In this case, the corps does a fine job of imitating the movements of birds and fish. The role of the little humpbacked horse is danced by Annya Scherbinina, who prances around on pointe in an adorable manner.Maya Plisetskaya dances the role of the Queen-Maiden, and she's particularly strong as a jumper and a turner. There are many fine examples of chaines (linked turns) and piques (pricking turns), while at one point she does over thirty consecutive fouettes (whipped turns) and makes them all look simple. The dancers is this production are all very expressive; Maya's mother was a Russian film actress, and Maya seems to have inherited her photogenic traits and good looks.Some of the filming was done on the Bolshoi stage, particularly the parts involving the corps de ballet, while other parts utilize custom sets. There's lots of rich colors in the scenery, as well as beautiful traditional costumes. If you're in the mood for something light-hearted and cute, and you don't mind if the humor is occasionally a bit corny, then I believe that you'll come to appreciate some of the distinguished dancing by Maya Plisetskaya, Vladimir Vasiliev, and the Bolshoi ensemble that's on display in "The Little Humpbacked Horse.""
Unrefined Animation Treatment Fails To Spoil A Balletic Deli
rsoonsa | Lake Isabella, California | 12/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This ballet, formed from a much beloved as well as archetypal Russian folk tale was created for the Bolshoi Ballet's Maya Plisetskaya by her husband, supremely skillful orchestrator Rodion Shchedrin, composer of the work. Lissome Plisetskaya's recognized strengths, here as the Queen Maiden, are clearly in evidence throughout the film: matchless elevation, splendidly disciplined movements, and emotional interpretation that covers a wide range. English ballerina Alicia Markova's published comment that Plisetskaya is incapable of completing fouttés is thoroughly discredited as the latter lightly tosses off more than the 32 of these demanding turns that have become traditional in the role of Odile in Le Lac des Cygnes, to which Markova refers. Plisetskaya is partnered here by a youthful Vladimir Vasiliev, (later both General, and Artistic, Director of the Bolshoi Theatre), whose acrobatic flair as Ivan is on display, his highly accomplished technique nearly matching in worthiness that of the great ballerina. Partly filmed during an actual performance at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow that utilizes original sets crafted for the piece, the narrative rhythm of the ballet is nearly daunted by an attempt to augment its essentially folkloric elements with primordial animation, in addition to superimposition and uninspiring table top models, but fortunately the narrative and dancing prevail. The Bolshoi's house Ballet Master, Alexandre Radunsky, not only choreographs and scripts the production, but also plays as the King, and Alla Scherbinina is wonderful as the Little Humpbacked Horse whose conjuring powers are of signal importance to Ivan, while the Bolshoi Corps and soloists are as accomplished as ever in secondary but crucial character parts. The film has no dialogue as produced by Mosfilm, and certainly none is required, but English language voiceover narration is added by Artkino and accompanies a Kultur release, not in the event inappropriate as it is spare while yet being descriptive of the storyline's progress. At any rate, all else fades from a viewer's attention when Maya Plisetkaya dances."
Andromeda | Chicago | 04/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I really enjoyed the DVD because it is a Russian folk story that features one of the greatest ballerinas ever. I greatly admire Maya Plisetskaya's technical and performance abilities and I especially enjoyed seeing her execute the fouette turns with the corps de ballet towards the middle of the DVD. The film was a bit fuzzy, but the story and music were a joy. I recommend this for children, especially children studying classical ballet because it shows us that ballet does not have to be stiff, sterile or acrobatic to entertain, as is so often the case now."