Sir Kenneth MacMillan's glorious version of The Prince of The Pagodas provides a fascinating and magnificent spectacle of classical dance on the grandest scale. Benjamin Britain's exotic score inspired by the sounds of the gamelan is the only one that he created for ballet. The oriental theme is followed through with Nicholas Georgiadis' enchanting designs enhancing the fairytale atmosphere. This production by the Royal Ballet filmed at Covent Garden in 1990 stars Darcey Bussell in dazzling form as Princess Rose and Jonathan Cope as the Prince. This is the role that launched Bussell's career. MacMillan had noted her exceptional talent while she was still a student and he chose her to create the role of Princess Rose for him.
Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker ballet has had many facelifts over the years. Peter Wright's Royal Ballet production is among the most imaginative, bringing together the narrative and fantasy aspects with relish. The first half of Act 1 is made busy but low-key, moving up a gear with the majestic Christmas tree "Transformation Scene", and ending with a gorgeous "Waltz of the Snowflakes". Act 2 decks out the lengthy sequence of character dances with vivid stage sets, culminating in a moving reconciliation between the magician Drosselmeyer and his nephew. Anthony Dowell brings authority, Ivan Putrov enthusiasm to their respective roles; Alina Cojocaru is sympathetic as Clara, and Miyako Yoshida steals the show as the Sugar-Plum Fairy. The Royal Opera House Orchestra take time to adjust to Evgeny Svetlanov's spacious tempos, but the showpieces have real emotional force. A Nutcracker for today, and a Christmas treat for all ages. On the DVD: The 16:9 anamorphic picture reproduces superbly, though rapid switches of camera angles in the ensemble scenes causes some blurring of focus. The PCM Stereo sound is equally realistic in its reproducing of the orchestra from the pit. Special features include insightful interviews with Dowell and Wright--with trilingual subtitles--a behind-the-scenes look at the "Transformation Scene", and alternative fixed wide shots of both that and the "Snowflakes" scenes. The 28 access points are given in the booklet's detailed synopsis. --Richard Whitehouse
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)Romeo and JulietBallet in three actsLibretto by Sergei Pokofiev Sergei Radlov and Adrian PiotrovskyBased on the play by William ShakespeareRevised choreography by Yuri Grigorovich based on the choreography by Leonid LavrovskyJuliet Natalya BessmertnovaRomeo Irek MukhamedovMercutio Mikhail SharkovTybalt Aleksandr VetrovThe Bolshoi Theatre OrchestraAlgis ZhuraitisRecorded at the Bolshoi Theatre 1989
George Balanchine is regarded as one of ballet's greatest choregraphers and one of the great artists of the 20th Century. He had a huge impact on the cultural history of New York City. This DVD is the first half of a two disc set featuring Balanchine's best known works performed by New York City Ballet and released as part of this year's George Balanchine Cenetenary Celebrations. Features: Chaconne / Prodigal Son / Ballo della Regina / Steadfast Tin Soldier / Tchaikovsky Pas De Deux
Recently widowed and seeking a new husband Hanna Glawari is one of Pontevedro's wealthiest women. If she marries a foreigner Pontevedro will be left bankrupt...so the bureaucats plot to ensure that Hanna marries a suitable national. The Merry Widow is sheer entertainment with lifting melodies breathtaking decor and glorious dancing!
'Today I went to Ballet class and made some new friends. Our teacher's name is Terri Williams who writes all her own songs and dances which are great fun and helps us to remember our moves. My first Ballet lesson was great!'
Choreographer Frederick Ashton's 1964 version of Sergei Prokofiev's ever popular ballet Cinderella. Conducted by John Lanchbery and directed for television by John Vernon.
Bolshoi performances of Pique Dame (Tchaikovsky) and Passacaglia (Webern) recorded at the Bolshoi Theatre Moscow 19th May 2005.
If you have always wanted to try ballet but have never had the courage to give it a go this class will prove to you that not only can ballet be easy to follow and learn but that it is an amazing form of physical exercise toning the muscles and helping you find balance strength and stamina. Using a wide range of musical styles teacher Deborah Sims clearly demonstrates each individual step.
Faure / Stravinsky /Tchaikovsky: Jewels Joyaux
This 1994 French TV presentation of Delibes' Coppelia reflects choreographer Maguy Marin's commitment to total theatre, seeking to find a fresh and exciting way of making ballet a rewarding experience on the home screen. One of the problems of filmed live ballet is the video presentation often fails to capture the experience of being in the theatre, something this dynamic production shot on location and in the studio circumvents in a highly visual way. Relocating Hoffman's tale of Doctor Coppelia's automaton and troubled young love to contemporary run-down urban France, the opening folk-dances are set around a hard-court game of football which unequivocally evokes the opening of West Side Story (1961). Throughout classical dance blends with modern, jazz, mine and physical theatre, while the adapted story offers a critique of the modern obsession with visual icons and the power of illusory fantasy over reality. Romantic, witty and filled with a surreal imaginative poetry in a lineage descended from the films of Jean (La Belle et la Bete) Cocteau and Michael (The Red Shoes, Peeping Tom) Powell, this is a Coppelia for anyone who enjoyed Mats Ek's Sleeping Beauty (1999). Purists be warned, Marin dispenses with half the score, making her version last just 60 minutes. On the DVD: The 1.77-1 anamorphically enhanced widescreen picture is excellent, benefiting greatly from being lit and shot like a feature film rather than the video of live ballet productions. The PCM stereo sound is equally good, making this widescreen presentation technically superior to other TV classical music releases from the same date. There is a 12-minute interview with Marin (in French with English subtitles) in which she outlines her background, her idea of theatre, and explains her conception of the film and explores why she cut so much of the original ballet. Also included are trailers of four other Arthaus releases and a multi-language 24-page booklet with full credits and notes on Delibes, Marin, Nagano and the performance. --Gary S Dalkin
It was a happy idea to couple the Royal Ballet School production of Peter and the Wolf with the Netherlands Dance Theatre's L'enfant et les sortiléges, for in each story the boy is the protagonist, in one instance leading a wolf hunt and in the other wreaking revenge on his toys after his mother has locked him in his room to finish his homework. Neither work in their final form was conceived for dancing: the Prokofiev comes from the concert hall and the Ravel from the opera house. Colette, the authoress of Gigi penned the story of L'enfant et les sortil&ecute;ges, which is related here in an introduction by the choreographer Jiri Kylian with charm and a nod back at his own childhood pranks. Viewers coming to this dance version of the opera for the first time maybe be surprised that Ravel composed the boy's role for a girl and a rather buxom one in this instance. The somewhat gloomy, heavily embroidered production misses no opportunity in bringing to life the toys in the boy's room or the animals in the garden that turn on him in retribution. In conclusion as an act of compassion of binding the paw of an injured squirrel, the boy and the animal kingdom are reconciled in music of a truly sublime nature. Lorin Maazel conducts Ravel's sophisticated and witty score with its translucent vocal lines with the affection for which he has long been renowned. In marked contrast to that production, Peter and the Wolf is set against a plain backdrop with one prop, a slice of carved tree trunk centre stage. Anthony Dowell narrates and also dances the role of the Grandfather with aplomb. In each instance a musical instrument represents a character. The choreographer Matthew Hart marshals his small group of dancers, duck, cat, bird and wolf, with imagination and dexterity. David Johnson as Peter (represented by the full orchestra) gives a splendid performance, boyish and graceful, making a further excellent advertisement for schoolboys considering dancing as a career in the wake of Billy Elliot. A stylish presented and well contrasted double bill. --Adrian Edwards
A unique insight to the backstage preparation of Darcey Bussell on the road and in rehearsals. Featuring Adam Cooper in Herman Schmerman by William Forsythe. Darcey Pricipal Dancer of the Royal Ballet and a performer of charismatic beauty was born in London where she attended the Royal Ballet School. Kenneth MacMillan wrote Price Of The Pagodas in which Darcey created the role of Princess Rose and also Masha in MacMillan's Winter Dreams. Darcey has performed with the New York Cit
In 1986 the Bolshoi Ballet toured the UK with this programme of Divertissements after an absence of 12 years. The tour was a spectacular success and proved the Bolshoi worthy of their description as the world s most famous ballet company. Their flamboyance and daring brilliance and technical execution are triumphantly displayed in this programme of excerpts from seven famous Bolshoi ballets which include Les Sylphides Spartacus The Sleeping Beauty La Bayad re Swan Lake Sprin
Just two years before she died in 1991, Margot Fonteyn finally allowed a documentary to be made about her life and legendary career as the most romantic prima ballerina of all. Fortunately, the task fell to Patricia Foy. Together with her later appreciation of Rudolf Nureyev, this study offers an invaluable insight into the two dominant and most widely popular dancers of the 20th century. Fonteyn talks directly to camera, with disarming simplicity, about a professional career which endured for more than 40 remarkable years. Reminiscences of a childhood and youth in which she entertained ideas of being a tap dancer (it took Ninette de Valois to spot her unique talent) give way to archive footage of famous performances and interviews with key collaborators including Frederick Ashton and Robert Helpmann. Fascinating home movies give a brief glimpse of a hard-working but jet-set lifestyle which included sailing on Onassis' yacht with Maria Callas. But Fonteyn was that rarest of beings: a genuine celebrity who didn't appreciate her own authentic claim to greatness for many years. The understated way in which she discusses her marriage to Panamanian diplomat Roberto de Arias, her arrest and deportation during his unsuccessful attempt at a coup and later, the paralysing effect of a gunshot wound which would leave him a permanent invalid in her constant care, is deeply moving. Ultimately though, there is the dancing, and that partnership with Nureyev. Fonteyn was 42 when they first joined forces and she was anxious not to appear as "mutton dancing with lamb". How ironic. The erotic charge which they generated is still palpable in extended excerpts from Romeo and Juliet and Swan Lake. Essential viewing for balletomanes of every age. On the DVD: Apart from a trailer for other Arthaus releases, there are no special features. The mono sound does the musical extracts no favours, but it's the interviews that make this an archivist's treat. Well-produced, with the customary detailed booklet. --Piers Ford
SpartacusBallet in Three Acts.Recorded At The Bolshoi Theatre 1990.
The Rambert Dance Company first made its name in the 1920s for its creative melding of tradition and innovation. That tenet has remained central to the company's ethos and Three by Rambert showcases its particular strengths to great effect in three highly contrasting ballets. Musically, we have three utterly different scores: Janaceks searing Second String Quartet (subtitled "Intimate Letters", from which the ballet adapts its name), the moody, evocative songs of Bill Withers and, finally, a medley of folk songs from various climes. Though stylistically at odds, all three explore the twin themes of desire and loss. The other link is that, heard in isolation, none of these pieces seems remotely danceable. Its a tribute both to the choreography (Robert North in the jazz ballet "Lonely Town" , the company's artistic director Christopher Bruce in the remaining two) and to the dancers themselves that the results are so stunningly effortless. Time and again, youre struck not simply by the liquid perfection of both solo and ensemble work, but by the directness of the physical language, and the depth of emotions expressed. A brilliant showcase for one of the cultural treasures of our age. On the DVD: Three by Rambert has good sound and excellent picture, with the 16:9 format doing full justice to the different visuals encapsulated by the three ballets. The booklet is useful for basic information, though more analysis of the works would have been helpful for non-experts. Rather than 14 minutes of trailers for other titles, an introduction to the work of the company, and maybe to the ballets themselves, would have been more helpful and user-friendly.--Harriet Smith
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