An abundance of riches
Ivy Lin | NY NY | 09/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This compilation truly has an abundance of riches from the Kirov Ballet's archives.
The first selection, Natalia Dudinskaya and Konstantin Sergeyev's Black Swan pdd is somewhat disappointing. The music is radically rearranged and shortened, and this was filmed rather late in Dudinskayas career. She's still a lightning fast turner but other than that there's little in the way of characterization.
Things immediately get better with some truly rare film of the legendary Tamara Karsavina warming up at the barre. This film is interesting in many ways: although Karsavina is shaped very differently from today's ballerinas, her technique does not seem at all out-of-date: her developpes are surprisingly high and lightning fast.
The third selection is truly a treat: Irina Kolpakova and Vladinen Semenov in the Raymonda pdd. To see Kolpakova is truly to see the famously aristocratic, pure, Vaganova style of dancing. The beautiful way her leg bends ever so slightly in arabesque, her gorgeous posture, these are all a joy to watch.
More eccentric is "Vienna Waltzes" choreographed by Leonid Jacobson and performed by Ninel Kurgapkina and Boris Bregvadze. The choreography seems more Fred-and-Ginger than Mariinsky, although the utter effervesence of Kurgapkina is lovely to watch.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Jacobson's Reflection, danced by the long-limbed Alla Osipenko and Anatoli Nisnevitch. This was strangely filmed in a barre classroom, but is quite dramatic and passionate. Osipenko has gorgeous lines and extension. In her, you can see the trace of the modern ballerina: tall, long-limbed, dramatic.
Alla Sizova and Rudolf Nureyev's graduation performance of Le Corsaire's pdd is next. Here, you can see Nureyev and Sizova's incredible potential. You can see Sizova's famous athleticism. You can see Nureyev garnering enthusiastic applause as the slave. In the West, he would make this a trademark piece. But watch the original here!
Another film of Nureyev (in Laurencia, with Kurgapkina) isnt quite as exciting. Nureyev has a rather weird wig. Kurgapkina;s turns are very exciting though. Nureyev here already is showing his life-long weakness of knowing how to start pirouettes but not knowing how to end them.
The next selection is rather odd -- The Tale of the Serf Nikish. It seems more of a dramatic piece than a dancing piece. Its chief interest is that you get to see the young Mikhail Baryshnikov dance.
Next up is Natalia Makarova in a horribly soupy (along with a chorus -- I kid you not) version of The Dying Swan. Makarova doesnt measure up to the gold standard (Maya Plisetskaya) but you can see traces of the great Russian ballerina's famously lyrical, tender style.
I'll skip comment on the Pas de Quatre because this selection inevitably annoys the crap out of me. Just my personal prejudice.
"Syrinx" is a solo piece, music by Debussy, danced by Alla Osipenko. Again, she shows her very modern style. In fact, I dare say some of her off-center balances and style would have made Balanchine drool!
I'm going to again avoid comment on the next two pieces, both Jacobson's Spartacus. Basically, this ballet and music doesnt much interest me. This is different from Grigorivich's more famous Spartacus. You do get to see a young Olga Moiseyeva though. Moiseva would later achieve great fame coaching Kirov superstars like Altynai Asylmuratova and Svetlana Zakharova.
The next selection puzzled me a bit. It's a solo with Nikita Dolgushin of Romeo and Juliet. Although Dolgushin dances well why not include one of the many famous pas de deux from this ballet?
Alla Osipenko once again dances in the "Ice Maiden," here partnered by John Markovski. Once again, a very modern style from Alla Osipenko. She's a ballerina that intrigues me greatly now. This piece really shows off her gorgeous classical line and flexibility.
The Les Sylphides waltz with Gabriella Komleva and Vadim Budarin again shows off the best of the Kirov style: pure, lyrical, with exquisite use of arms and back to convey movement and emotion. That being said, Komleva isnt a dancer that excites me the way Kolpakova, Kurgapkina, or Osipenko do. She seems to lack the last bit of star power.
Speaking of Kurgapkina, she's next in the Corsaire pdd with Vadim Budarin. Budarin doesn't have the sheer animal virility of Rudolf Nureyev, but once again Kurgapkina is a joy to watch. It's interesting to compare Sizova/Nureyev with Kurgapkina/Budarin. The Sizova/Nureyev performance was their school graduation performance, and it shows rough spots as well as great potential. Kurgapkina and Burbarin are much more polished, but you dont get the same thrill as you get with Sizova/Nureyev. Burdarin, by the way, is saddled with a truly hideous baseball cap. Kurgapkina does a beautifl 32 fouettes.
Next is probably this video's most beautiful clip. It's Galina Ulanova before she left for the Bolshoi dancing the White Swan pdd with Konstantin Sergeyev. You can see why Ulanova is still held as a standard of pure, beautiful movement. Some elements of her technique look outdated today, but her tenderness and purity are timeless.
After the divine Swan Lake pdd, yet another Dying Swan (this time with Olga Moiseyeva) seems almost anti-climactic. Again, Moiseyeva is beautiful in her own way, but once you've seen Maya Plisetskaya, all other versions seem, well, not as impressive.
And so that's it. Overall, I'm thrilled to have this diverse, wonderful compilation in my ballet collection. There are of course some pieces I could have lived without, but I am still so grateful that dancers I had heard of but never seen (such as Osipenko) are here on this great compilation. The glory of the Kirov, indeed."
Lorraine P. Zigman | Vermont, USA | 07/08/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is not a complete ballet, but short pieces from various performances. Ninety minutes of wonderful ballet dancing by "the best", including Baryshnikov and Nureyev. I was acquainted with the talents of Baryshnikov and admired his grace for years. Sadly, I knew nothing of Rudolf Nureyev until seeing him on public television. Needless to say, I was completely entranced by his grace and incredible leaps. It also includes, interestingly, ballet exercises c. 1920 in black and white from that time period. All in all a very enjoyable DVD."