Articles from Ballet2000

The Kirov of yesterday and today on DVD

In his account of the Kirov Ballet’s 1961 London début, Clement Crisp recalls two great dancers of the Soviet ballet, Alla Sizova and Yuri Soloviev. Today we can still watch them both in a 1965 film of The Sleeping Beauty (available on a Kultur DVD). Another iconic dancer can be seen in this film: Natalia Dudinskaya as Carabosse (not the usual traditional mime role in this production but, on the contrary, a highly-demanding technical one).
Another Sleeping Beauty on DVD (likewise on a Kultur label), dated 1982, brings us the then almost 50-year-old Irina Kolpakova, nonetheless radiant and fresh. The extraordinary stage vitality of this dazzling ballerina can also be appreciated on a VAI DVD of a 1980 production of Raymonda.
To continue our tour d’horizon of the ‘classics’ (which constitute the Kirov’s priceless legacy), viewers will be able to admire Galina Mezentseva in Giselle on a 1983 video available on DVD (Kultur); partnered by Konstantin Zaklinsky, she may not be an entirely traditional Giselle, stylistically speaking, yet she is certainly impressive and touching. The Mezentseva-Zaklinsky couple also star on a DVD of Swan Lake released by Kultur – who have also released a more recent (1990) Kirov version of this ballet with Yulia Makhalina, a modern, understated yet sensual Odette.
Lopatkina’s Swan Queen, on the other hand, is neither modern nor ancient, as can be seen on a Decca DVD; this ballerina’s interpretative genius comes across at its best in Swan Lake, giving viewersa mesmerizing aesthetic experience. Fans of the Mariinsky Theatre’s “diva” will certainly not wish to miss Bel Air’s “2006 New Year’s Eve Gala” DVD which features her in The Dying Swan (and also carries a divertissement from The Sleeping Beauty in Serghei Vikharev’s “choreological” reworking of this classic).
A 1977 video of La Bayadère is available on a Kultur DVD with Gabriela Komleva as Nikya; this great tragédienne, but who is also in her element in the “Act of the Shades”, is partnered here by Rejen Abdyev (not the best of Solors). This video allows us especially to appreciate both the superb technique of Tatiana Terekhova as Gamzatti, in an astounding grand pas, and the beguiling corps de ballet in the “white act”. VAI has released a 1989 recording of the Kirov in Le Corsaire, starring Altynai Asylmuratova, Elena Pankova, Evgheny Neff, Farukh Ruzimatov and Zaklinsky. When it comes to The Nutcracker, I recommend a Philips DVD of the traditional Vasili Vainonen version, with Larissa Lezhnina in the main role, rather than Kirill Simonov’s new version (available on a Decca label) which, apart from Leonid Sarafanov’s presence, is far less interesting.
The numerous fans of this former Mariinsky dancer will, no doubt, prefer to see him on another Decca DVD: in the Kirov’s production of Don Quixote where his velvety, refined and unfussy technique shines, devoid of gratuitous showiness. On the same video we can admire Olesia Novikova as Kitri, Alina Somova as the Dryad Queen and Evghenia Obraztsova as an enticing Cupid. Another Don Quixote, more dated but nevertheless highly attractive, is the version starring Terekhova and Ruzimatov, available on a Kultur DVD. She seduces us with her remarkable leaps and stunning fouettés, he with his exuberance and pirouettes and tours galore.
Kultur’s DVD of Oleg Vinogradov’s Coppélia, on the other hand, is not a ‘must’, while that of Yuri Grigorovich’s The Stone Flower (2005), with Anna Polikarpova (who has since joined the Hamburg Ballet) and Alexandr Gulyaev, may appeal to those who are interested in the iconic Soviet ballets.
And now we come to the Ballets Russes repertory. An Arthaus DVD entitled “Kirov Celebrates Nijinsky” brings us a Fokine evening filmed in 2002 at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris (where Diaghilev’s troupe actually debuted in 1909). The ballets include: Shéhérazade (with Svetlana Zakharova, before she transferred to the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, and Ruzimatov); Le Spectre de la rose (with Igor Kolb); the Polovtsian Dances and The Firebird (with an intriguing Diana Vishneva). The Firebird (but with Ekaterina Kondaurova)is also featured on a Bel Air DVD, together with Vaslav Nijinsky’s The Rite of Spring (“reconstructed” by Millicent Hodson). Another DVD (Immortal), entitled “Ballet Miniatures”, features two more Fokine ballets: Carnaval and Une nuit d’Égypte (“Egyptian Nights”, later entitled “Cleopatra”), starring Asylmuratova as an icy Cleopatra and Ruzimatov.
Amidst miscellanea, the most invaluable DVD is undoubtedly Arthaus’ “Kirov Classics”. Of particular interest are Chopiniana, breathtakingly danced by soloists and corps de ballet alike, and, above all, the sumptuous grand pas from Paquita, with Yulia Makhalina and Igor Zelensky. Diamond-pure classicism, sparkling virtuosism and imperial grandeur. The Kirov hallmark.

Cristiano Merlo

BALLET2000 n. 222, September 2011