Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Minkus - La Bayadere / Asylmuratova Bussell Dowell Mukhamedov Lanchbery Royal Ballet|
Actors: John Lanchbery, Altynai Asylmuratova, Irek Mukhamedov, Anthony Dowell, Drew
Genres: Indie & Art House, Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
The Royal Ballets 1990 Premiere of Petipa and Minkus's "La B
MrLopez2681 | USA | 03/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This masterpiece of 19th century ballet was originally staged for the Czar's Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg, Russia by the great Balletmaster and choreographer Marius Petipa (creator of "The Sleeping Beauty", "The Nutcracker", "Swan lake", "Don Quixote", "Raymonda", among many other masterpieces) on January 23, 1877, having been created for the benefit of the great Prima Ballerina Ekaterina Vazem. The lavish 'Grand Ballet Spectacle' astounded the audiences of the day for its exotic setting, its very theatrical and highly dramtic scenerio, grand processions, large group and character dances, and most of all the vision scene "The Kingdom of the Shades" set to the masterful choreography of Petipa. The work lived on in Russia through the re-stagings of Alexander Gorsky in 1904 (for the Moscow Bolshoi Ballet), Agrippina Vaganova in 1932, and Vakhtang Chabukiani with Valdimir Ponomareyev in 1941. The ballet has survived to this day, and has been staged in many versions by way of Russian dancers outside of Russia the world over.
The great Mariinsky Ballerina Natalia Makarova shares with the West her Russian heritage with this staging of "La Bayadere". Here we have a magnificent film of the premiere of her version staged for the Royal Ballet in 1990 (this version was also staged for American Ballet Theatre 10 years earlier). Makarova's version is great, though very stream-lined. The biggest change being her restoration of the long lost last act (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) and the deletion of the Act II dances - 'Danse Manu' (where a ballerina dances a pas d'action in an attemp to balance a water jug on her head, and still keep away the jug's contents from 2 thirsty little girls), the 'Dance of the Fakirs' (a frenizied number that seems more American-Indian than India-Indian), and the 'Dance of the Snake-Charmer'.
The Prima Ballerina of the Kirov/Mariinsky Altynai Assylmoratova guest stars in this film as Nikiya, perhaps the greatest late 20th centruy interpretor of the role. 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. 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). Due to the small stage of the Royal Opera House, Makarova was forced to lessen the number of the corps de ballet from 32 to 24 in "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 Leon Minkus score by John Lanchbery gives the soloists a big drum roll at the end of a variation for added affect.
This brings me to the music. The antique score of Ludwig Minkus is revised here by the Royal Opera House conductor John Lnchbery. Its obvious Lanchbery strived to improve the instrumentation, but the music is all in all just muscial candy, and at times it reminds one of Wagner or Gershwin. His additions in the last act are appropriate to the situation (his music for the "Distruction of the Temple" is quite good). NOTE - The music for this version of "La Bayadere" with the Leon (or Ludwig) Minkus score revised by John Lanchbery is available through a 2 CD 1994 recording by Richard Bonynge and the English Chamber Orchestra (Decca - 436 917-2).
But 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. Never does her leg go higher than 100 degrees, but the perfection of her placement is the true spectacle.
This is 1 of only 4 filmed performances of the full-length "La Bayadere" available (there are quite a few of the scene "The Kingdom of the Shades" on its own). The best of these being the 1992 staging of Rudolf Nureyev for the Paris Opera Ballet, with its magnificent production (though the dancing is much better in this film). His staging is virtually identicle to the Kirov/Mariinksy version. The other films are of the versions by the Kirov Ballet, and the Bolshoi Ballet. In 2001, with the aid of the choreographic notation from Petipa's 1900 revival for the ballerina Mathilde Kschessinskaya, and of the recently discovered full hand-written score of Ludwig Minkus, the Kirov/Mariinksy Ballet restaged "La Bayadere" as it was in 1900, for Petipa's last revival. 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."
Classical ballet at its best
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 07/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"this Royal Ballet La Bayadere features Natalia Makarova's reconstruction of Petipa's ballet. Much of the choreography has been lost, including the entire final act. Makarova has thus chosen to streamline the extant choreography, and through some recreation and reshuffling, reconstruct a final act. Other versions (such as the Paris version by Nureyev) choose to work with the extant choreography and end the ballet with the last known Petipa choreography (the Shades act). There are plusses and minusses to both approaches. Makarova's version gives the ballet some closure (ending with the Shades act denies Solor and Nikya and reunion in death, which is so much a part of romantic ballet). However many character dances and such have to be scrapped in order to tighten the action. Recently the Kirov Ballet has attempted to add ALL of Petipa's choreography AND recreate the lost act, but that version is not out on videotape. Until then, both Makarova and Nureyev's compromises seem reasonable.
Minkus's score for La Bayadere is a mixed bag. It has some lovely moments (like the entire Shades act) but also can sound treacly and formulaic. Nureyev's production includes more numbers but I think both Nureyev and Makarova have respect for La Bayadere as a ballet, they simply resolve the problems differently.
The Nikya, Altynai Asylmuratova, is obviously from such a different school of ballet than the corps or other dancers (such as Darcey Bussell). AA was prima ballerina of the Kirov ballet, and her Russian style of dancing is obvious: extremely arched back, long flexible extensions, an emphasis on hand gestures. In contrast, Darcey Bussell is stiff-backed, regal, and elegant, and she can certainly kick her legs high! This is not a "bad" thing but balletomanes will note the differences in training between the Nikya and Gamzatti (Bussell).
However, Asylmuratova is a revelation: in the Shades act she really does seem otherworldly. Her fluid upper body and beauty make this Nikya inherently sympathetic. She's one of those very rare ballerinas who naturally project vulnerability. Like many Russians she is very dramatic but never over-the-top -- when she enters in white during the Shade scene, I actually ached and sighed at how beautiful she was.
Bussell is also great as Gamzatti -- athletic, haughty, and sexy. Mukhamedov is less impressive as Solor -- theres nothing really wrong with him, but he lacks charisma and chemistry with the two leading ladies. I've seen him in other films where he's been very impressive (a demented Mayerling, some excerpts from Spartacus and Romeo and Juliet). So maybe Solor wasnt his role.
The Paris video's dancing is also fine, but Isabelle Guerin (Nikya) is not as memorable and touching as Asylmuratova. Between Platel and Bussell, I really like both. Platel is frighteningly icy, Bussell snooty. But the contrast between Bussell and Asylmuratova is more memorable. Asylmuratova looks like an exotic dancer, whereas Bussell, blond and blue-eyed, seems like a spoiled princess."
What a Gamzatti!
Susan H. Balduf | Michigan | 04/29/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Darcey Bussell is beyond gorgeous. Her variations in Act One (right before she poisons poor Nikita) are eye-popping -- what beautiful feet she has! I have watched Act One over and over and over. The music is just awful, but the dancing is amazing."
Its a great ballet but missing a lot of pantamime parts....
krnsngr | California, Los Angeles | 06/28/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"This ballet is quite grand in that La Bayadere is a story of a Bayadere which is a temple dancer who is named Nikiya not Nikita(hense not La Femme), this ballet is quite beautiful with the wonderful Darcey Bussell, a grand prima ballerina. Despite the length of the ballet, its only like about 3/4 of the original of the actual story, the Choreography by Natalia Makarova is quite beautiful but none compared to the Original Marius Petipa movements and the music is fairly glitzy. thats just my opinion."