Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Prokofiev - Romeo and Juliet / Galina Ulanova Yuri Zhandov Gennady Rozhdestvensky Bolshoi Ballet|
Actors: Galina Ulanova, Yuri Zhdanov, I. Olenina, Aleksandr Radunsky, Ye. Ilyushchenko
Directors: Leonid Lavrovsky, Lev Arnshtam
Genres: Drama, Music Video & Concerts, Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
See a Prima Ballerina Assoluta in Action
Rick | Detroit, MI | 06/29/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"When I first watched this title, I had a few reservations about it that made me think hard about what I appreciate in a ballet performance, but over a period of time, I've kept coming back to it, because it has some very special things to offer that are not so obvious upon initial viewing. In fact, I've now come to appreciate this performance a little better than even the distinguished 1966 ballet-film of "Romeo and Juliet" by The Royal Ballet with Dame Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. And, that's saying quite a lot.Today's ballet audience has become very accustomed with having a certain "look" to the ballerina, most of whom are very, very trim and ultra-flexible. In this production, the ballerina who dances the role of Juliet, Galina Ulanova, doesn't really fit that mold. For that matter, the premier danceur, Yuri Zhdanov, doesn't fit the image of a contemporary male lead. As prospective purchasers of this video, I think that it's helpful to warn you of this fact. This video offers up a challenge to stretch your conception about what a ballet lead can look like, and if you're not willing to do that, then it's best for you to continue searching for an alternative among the many different interpretations of this ballet that are commercially available.This title was created in 1954. It's not a stage performance, but rather a ballet-film. The scenery is unbeatable, as far as ballet titles go. But, I don't want to spend too much time on that aspect, because I don't want to take away from the dancing. The fact that this tape is still in demand after almost fifty years is quite a compliment to the performers.I recently loaned my copy to a family member whose opinion I respect (but sometimes disagree with). She returned it and said plainly that she prefers to watch modern technique. I mention this, because you'll need to come to grips with this particular point as well. For instance, let's say that the premier danceur does a grand jete, and his trailing leg is slightly bent: will that ruin the ballet for you? Once again, if it does, then you need to look elsewhere. In that case, you may enjoy watching some excerpts of Alessandra Ferri (partnered by Wayne Eagling) including the balcony scene on "Great Pas de Deux" and Juliet's Bedroom Pas de Deux on "Ballet Favorites." Both of these excerpt tapes are available on Amazon.com.One of the things that I find so compelling about Ulanova's dancing--and the reason why I've kept returning to it--is the naturalness of it. Galina Ulanova looks the least choreographed of anyone that I've seen. One of my on-line friends and Amazon.com reviewer, dancinggiraffe, said it best in her "about.me" section while discussing the dancers of the fifties and sixties: "Although their technique is generally not as precise as is expected today, I feel that the dancers from this period were very expressive, and often had a freedom of movement that is rare today. I believe this makes them very much worth watching." In my opinion, Galina is one of the best examples of this. She is indeed very expressive; she has wonderful arms and she floats.Another interesting thing about this performance is the absence of big developpes and the scarcity of arabesques much over 90 degrees of extension. In this performance, Galina made an art form out of 45, 60 and 90 degree arabesques that must have today's choreographers, with their insatiable appetite for ultra flexibility, scratching their heads in wonderment at the longevity of this title!The choreography is by Leonid Lavrovsky. The picture on the cover of the dust jacket is very fitting, as there are a lot of nice lifts in the choreography. Another one of the special treats of this production is the Bolshoi ensemble, and I feel that the fifties and sixties era under Leonid Lavrovsky produced *the* best character dancing available anywhere on commercial videotape.I should also mention that it behooves you to see one of the non-ballet movie versions, as the motives of some of the characters are not as effectively communicated in ballet, where words are not allowed. Being a balletomane myself, I like to think that words aren't necessary, but in being honest with you, I think that in some cases they help. There's a real power in Shakespeare's words that's obviously lost in a ballet version. While I love ballet, I'm not sure if any of the performances I've seen are a match for the combination of Sharkespeare's words and Olivia Hussey's "eyebrow dancing" (i.e., facial expressions) set to the moving song of "What is a Youth?," during the scene of Juliet's first kiss with Romeo (Leonard Whiting) in Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 movie. That's a pretty outstanding moment in film! Therefore, I think the maximum that I'd be willing to give any ballet version of "Romeo and Juliet" is four stars out of five, no matter how well danced. Plus, in the overall scheme of things, a well-danced performance of "Romeo and Juliet" such as this doesn't deserve the same five-star rating that a well-danced performance of any Tchaikovsky ballet or "Giselle" would merit. Or, at least that's the way it is to my way of thinking.In some ways, perhaps this production is a little old-fashioned, in that it hasn't been spiced up with sex appeal. At times, perhaps some of the humor is a little corny. Nevertheless, what the dancers achieved has really stood the test of time well. Galina Ulanova is one of the very few ballerinas who has earned the title of Prima Ballerina Assoluta. They don't just hand out the Assoluta distinction indiscriminately, so If you're a dancer, then it behooves you to study her and try to learn her secrets. Because of the great dancing by Ulanova and the Bolshoi ensemble, this is a valued performance in my ballet video collection."
Galina the Great
Deborah Brooks | San Francisco, CA United States | 06/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The first time the Bolshoi Ballet came to San Francisco, my mother didn't buy me a ticket because she thought I was too young to appreciate it. When the company returned, Galina Ulanova was no longer dancing! Fortunately, videos such as this one exist. Ulanova was truly a great artist.This 1954 film is a feast for the eyes, as the costumes are gorgeous and the indoor and outdoor locations are spectacular. Though there's no mention of it in the credits, it appears to have been filmed in Verona, Italy (or at least a city that looks very much like Verona).A major flaw in the film, for those who are familiar with the Prokofieff score, is that there are many cuts in the music, some of them quite awkward, particularly in the market scenes. As a result (I believe) of the cuts, Romeo (Yuri Zhdanov) has almost no dancing except partnering Juliet. Despite this problem, I give this video five stars because of Ulanova's beautiful, moving performance.The Bolshoi version is an interesting contrast to the Royal Ballet's 1966 version, starring Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. Both are excellent."
One more victory of the humanity, portraying a true love
Deborah Brooks | 04/27/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The eternity is not the destination for everyone. Galina Ulanova is one of the few who will always be livng in the people's hearts. Not because she was the most famous and celebrated ballerina of her time, but because of her purity, beauty and bounless dedication to the art."