Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Minkus - La Bayadere / Kirov Theatre|
Actors: Shirokov, Terekhova, Komleva, Minkus
Director: Vakhtang Chabukiani
Genres: Indie & Art House, Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
Here is La Bayadere (The Temple Dancer) a ballet in three acts performed by the company that first brought it to the West. Filmed at the Kirov Theater (on the stage where it was premiered in 1877), La Bayadere stars Gabrie... more »
The Kirov dances this ballet as if it were in their blood
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 02/10/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If any ballet can truly be associated with the Kirov/Mariinsky, it is La Bayadere. This is the ballet that made Anna Pavlova in instant star. Even the Kirov defectors (Nureyev, Makarova) could not forget about La Bayadere, as both of them staged the ballet in the west. Petipa's ballet about the doomed affair between an Indian temple dancer and a warrior is such a part of the Imperial Ballet's history that it's a surprise that to date this is the only official video of the Kirov's Bayadere.
But rest assured, despite being old (filmed in 1977), it's an excellent document of the ballet. You can tell this is a ballet the company has danced for ages. Each character dancer really SELLS his/her part in the Grand Betrothal Act, from the Golden Idol to Manu (the girl with the vase over her head). The Kirov dances the ballet as if it were in their blood. This is particularly apparent in the famous Kingdom of the Shades, in which Solor, high on opium, hallucinates Shades descending down the Himalaya mountains, one by one. Each shade lunges forward in an arabesque, then stretches backwards. Notice the almost nonchalant way the 32 shades descend down the ramp, in complete unison. It looks easy, although any ballerina will tell you it's probably the most terrifyingly exposed choreography in classical ballet.
The two female leads (Gabriela Komleva as Nikya, Tatiana Terekhova as Gamzatti) are very strong. The Kirov nowadays favors very tall, imperious looking dancers like Uliana Lopatkina as Nikya, so if your idea of Nikya is a Lopatkina or Svetlana Zakharova, you're likely to be disappointed with Komleva who is considerably smaller and more compact (and less glamorous looking). But she's a delicate, vulnerable Nikya, with a pliant back and expressive face, and she handles the treacherously difficult part without any technical problems. If I have one criticism of her it's that in the Shades scene she isn't quite as otherworldly and ethereal as the best of Nikyas. Tatiana Terekhova is simply astonishing as Gamzatti. She simply drips hauteur and evil. Her confrontation with Nikya is exciting, and in the Betrothal Grand Pas she steals the show with her spectacular grande jetes and series of Italian fouettes. The weak link is the Solor. There is tragedy behind Rebdan Abdyev's Solor -- originally the telecast was slated to go to Yuri Soloviev, but Soloviev died in an apparent suicide, an event that devastated the company. Abdyev is an appropriately macho Solor, but he has a distinct lack of finesse, and one does long for the incredible elevation and elegance of Soloviev.
I would say this is *the* Bayadere to get as an introduction to the ballet, but it also faces some stiff competition on video. The Royal Ballet video has Altynai Asylmuratova on loan from the Kirov dancing the Makarova production (see below). Asylmuratova, exotic, beautiful, and heartbreaking, is probably the best Nikya on video, and Irek Mukhamedov is a wonderful Solor, but I dislike the Makarova version. The Paris Opera Ballet video boasts the POB Shades which are as stunning in their own way as the Kirov's, beautiful sets and costumes, and wonderful performances by Isabel Guerin, Laurent Hilaire, and Elisabeth Platel. There is also a video from La Scala starring Svetlana Zakharova and Roberto Bolle in the Makarova production. I'm not a huge Zakharova fan, but Nikya is probably her best role.
*The Kirov dances the Chabukiani version of the ballet, which debuted in 1941. This ballet dropped the last act (in which the ghost of Nikya destroys the temple during Solor and Gamzatti's wedding), and instead ends the ballet after the Kingdom of the Shades. This was probably for technical rather than artistic reasons -- even without the lost act, the ballet is over two hours long. After the Russian Revolution, the theater could not afford the elaborate stage machinery required to depict a destroyed temple. Years later, Kirov defector Natalia Makarova staged her own La Bayadere for the American Ballet Theater, in which she streamlined the mime and the character dances in the Betrothal Scene considerably, and then recreated the "lost" act by some creative reshuffling of music and barebones choreography. Then in 1992, a dying Rudolf Nureyev staged La Bayadere for the Paris Opera Ballet. His version is almost a carbon copy of the Kirov/Chabukiani version. In 2002, the Kirov finally staged a reconstructed Bayadere based on the 1900 production, which contained the "lost" act. This version is not available in commercial video."
A common man's point of view.
Richard Rawls | Dublin Ga USA | 07/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I only have this one copy of La Bayadere so I cannot compare it with others, as Ivy Lin is able to do. By the way, I like to read Ivy Lin's reviews for her honesty and knowledge of subject, and use her reviews to help me make purchasing decisions.
I will have to view this ballet several more times before I can say that I love the music of Ludwig Minkus. I must say that I liked the music of the act three Entrance of the Shades. By reading Ivy Lin's review I now know why I felt there was something missing from this story. That is, some sort of retribution for Nikia's murder. Prince Solor seems to be a real coward and does not deserve her continued love, even in an after life. There seems to be other versions of this ballet showing the destruction of the temple during the wedding of Solor and Gamzatti, which would be a fitting end after the treachery of Gamzatti and the Rajah. La Baradere is over 130 minutes as it is, and to add another act, would require another 10/15 minutes making it quite long indeed.
Someone said the costumes were somewhat dowdy, but seemed quite sexy to me. Especially the female part of the Indian Dance. She was ravishing, and she had more fun than anyone else. All the sets were very well done, and one must say the Russians must have the largest of everything including their theater stages and must have them filled to capacity with people (or elephants). There must have been 60/65 people on stage during the Betrothal Scene. The lighting was good even in the night scenes of the Shades, where there is proof that these ballerinas are human after all when, at the end of the dance of the Shades two of them including at least one of the soloists lose their balance and have to hop on one foot to keep from falling . I can't hold that against them, however, since I sometimes lose my balance just putting on my pants. One must remember, the young ballerina who nearly lost her balance had just done 37 exceedingly difficult arabesque movements as she descended the slopes of the Himalayan mountains, and was doing another when her knee buckled slightly. I forgive her, but I wonder if her boss did?
PS, I now have two copies of La Bayadere, this beautiful Kirov Ballet version and the Paris Opera Ballet version,,,,Minkus - La Bayadere / Guerin, Hilaire, Platel, Paris Ballet.... which is equally beautiful. The POB version has a sharper image due to the fact that it was filmed in High Definition. The sets in the POB version have only a slight edge in quality over the Kirov, but the dancing by the principles in both versions was very good. The corps de ballet in the POB had "togetherness" down pat, they were close to perfect. My version is imported (PAL), is a 3/4 video format version and the sound quality is excellent stereo and surround sound, and also available in Blu Ray. Color and lighting were good in both versions. By the way, I have grown to love Minkus' music. You won't go wrong with either version.......Richard.