Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Tchaikovsky - Swan Lake / Maya Plisetskaya Nicolai Fadeyechev Bolshoi Ballet|
Actors: The Bolshoi Ballet, Nikolai Fadeyechev, Maya Plisetskaya, Viktor Khomyakov, Vladimir Levashev
Director: Zoya Tulubeva
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Special Interests, Educational, Musicals & Performing Arts
The Dazzling Plisetskaya
V. Stasov | 06/11/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Historic performances must be evaluated utilizing entirely different criteria from those applied to contemporary works. To judge a recorded performance from the past using modern audio-visual standards is to entirely miss the point of historic art preservation. Even precious snippets of performances, however poor the quality, enable us to time travel back to an earlier era in which artistic practices were markedly different from today's. These differences, however, in no way diminish the gifts and genius of earlier talents.
These older and sometimes extremely rare artifacts are a spectacular opportunity for those of us who appreciate having these otherwise lost cultural treasures salvaged and preserved.
In this case, we have the legendary Maya Plisetskaya - youthful, beautiful, and phenomenally flexible, charismatic and dramatic, in the quintessentially Russian Swan Lake.
The sound and picture quality are by no means inadequate. It is a stunning experience just to be able to see Plisetskaya in her milieu at the Bolshoi, creating two completely different characters - one vulnerable, magical, the other seductively evil and predatory. Her gracefulness, her almost supernatural ability to incarnate the soul of a bird, make the cuts and audience shots irrelevent.
In fact, for those who truly appreciate history - cultural and political as well as artistic - this video is priceless. We see the Soviets at their propagandistic best. It's as if we're seeing two videos - one an historic ballet performance starring one of the 20th century's immortal artists, the other an adroitly executed and subtle propaganda film - in which the well-groomed, appreciative audience from all classes in this classless society is as much a part of the performance as the dance.
Besides Plisetskaya, the other stars of this film are the audience and the stage crew: beautiful young intellectuals mingle with sturdy loyal Party members. The less elegant but apparently no less artistically informed workers, both in the audience and behind the curtain, seem to appreciate ballet as much as the intelligentsia in the boxes. We even see Maya, behind the scenes, relieved and gratified to receive the loving approval of the woman who helps her change her costume. After all, in this vast Marxist experiment, all comrades are equal....
The conducting of the Bolshoi orchestra is excellent. The dancing is consistently superb. The jester has the outstanding athleticism and power we associate with the Russian school. The Rothbart plays out his death scene with such dramatic potency that the audience explodes with spontaneous applause.
Yes, there are cuts; yes the film quality is not Hollywood. But to have the opportunity to view Plisetskaya at the Bolshoi, in her youth, in the stellar role of her career is priceless. I highly recommend her autobiography "I, Maya Plisetskaya" which candidly and passionately tells the story of the grinding struggles even artists at the highest levels were forced to survive in the Soviet Union."
Charismatic Maya P., brutally cut Swan Lake
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 09/29/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This 1957 film records the legendary Maya Plisetskaya's Swan Lake at the Bolshoi Theater.
Like a lot of historical ballet films, I wouldnt recommend this as anyone's first or only Swan Lake. It has a lot of problems. The first and most problematic issue is how cut it is. Even though the dvd running time says 80 minutes, there's only about 70 minutes of dancing, as the rest is backstage/background fluff. A full-length Swan Lake usually runs about 2 hours, to give you an idea of how cut this film is. The cuts are everywhere, in every act, no music is spared. It's jarring not just for the ears but for the eyes. I can't even say whether the Bolshoi corps is good or bad in this film -- the film cuts the extended sequences that allow a viewer to judge a corps' cohesiveness, poise, and grace. The second distraction is how the film is directed. First of all, the photography is old, out of focus, jumpy, and just plain bad. The poor picture quality is certainly a turn off. Besides the grainy photography and unimpressive sets, the directors decided to be "creative" and cut away from dancing intermittently to show a rapt audience member and whatnot. This is fine during the "intermission" segments (in which we see Maya P. lacing up her shoes, and some stagehands lowering scenery drops). But it is NOT ok in the middle of, say, the White Swan Adagio! The worst insult was interrupting Odette's ENTRANCE with a shot of the audience.
The choreography also differs from a lot of Western Swan Lakes. In the first act there's a lot of dancing for a jester, who in this production (V. Khomyakov) happens to be a lightning fast turner. The Soviet productions also use the "happy" ending -- meaning, no leaping into the lake and no Swan Boat here. Just a dead Rothbart and a rather tacked-on happily ever after finish.
How is Maya Plisetskaya? She surely has personality to spare -- her red hair and piercing eyes seem to drip evil as Odile, particularly. She even cackles demonically. Her extremely fluid arms and back are typical for Russian ballerinas, and certainly are a plus in this bird/human role. Her long, long arms were famous for their bonelessnes, and this can best be seen in the bonus of "A Dying Swan" and at the end of the White Act as Odette.
As a dancer, she does some things better than others. She's a lightning fast turner and spinner, and her leaps are huge. I've never seen such spectacular grande jetes. As Odile perhaps to show off her turning skills, she substitutes the typical 32 fouettes with fast circular pique turns and pirouettes. Her Odette is certainly charismatic, but not quite as impressive. For one thing, she's not one of those ballerinas that can look exquisite just balancing on pointe. Her persona is tough, slightly scary. As a result, her Odette lacks the porcelain delicacy and grace some ballerinas can bring to the role. Maya's figure is also unusual for a classical ballerina, and it deprives her of the kind of long, pure lines that Odette needs. She is squarer than most ballerinas, and although she's very thin her legs are shorter and thicker, so her bent leg arabesques and extensions (so much a part of Odette's dancing in Act 2) arent as aesthetically pleasing.
The best video Odette I've seen is still Natalia Makarova. Still, Maya P. is always a personality. I have a feeling she might have been one of those ballerinas you went to SEE rather than observe. There's bonus footage of her in The Dying Swan, where her fluid arms and back are again used to great effect. This was one of Maya's trademark roles and watching her flutter her arms bonelessly is amazing.
Nicolai Fadeyechev is neither handsome nor showy. He's more of a classical partner who lets the ballerina shine. Again, his figure is squarer and a bit dumpier than the super-toned ballet dancers we are accustomed to seeing today.
This is a live performance, and it is nice to see the obvious adoration of the Bolshoi audience for their prima ballerina. One particularly charming moment is when Siegfried rips off Rothbart's cape, the audience erupts in happy cheers, the way audiences do when "bad guys" are finally defeated. That small moment goes a long way in refuting the "Soviet Robots" propaganda of much of the Cold War."
A poor ballet film
Felix M. Galvan-Bird, MD | San Juan, PR USA | 05/12/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Plisetskaya deserves 5 stars but this is a very poor ballet film
The first act is heavily cut and there are too many shots of the
audience even in such important scenes as the second act and black swan pas de deux and also many shots from the stage showing
the back of the dancers and the theater. The audio and the video are poor."
Excellent dancing by Maya
MimiMeow | Milpitas, CA United States | 01/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a historic ballet film from the fifties. Notably the sound and video is not first rate. It is not recorded as a live performance per se. There are cuts here and there to the performance.
In spite of the sound and video quality, I thoroughly enjoy the dancing of Maya Plisetskaya. I am not a ballet expert, but I also own the Kirov (with Galina Mezentseva) and the Nureyev versions. In my opinion, among the three, Maya is the best Odette/Odile, followed by Galina. Her whole body can dance - her legs, arms and face. The Russian dancers seem to have more facial expressions which make them look more "into" the role, enhancing the effectiveness of their performance.
If you want a complete Swan Lake, this may not be the DVD for you. This DVD is recommended for its historic value.
For more info, please see reviews of the same film in VHS format."