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3-D Does It

'Giselle' Film

reviewed by Dean Speer

July 12, 2011 -- Federal Way, Washington

Ballet and dance viewed on film and similar mediums like television or even over the Internet such as You Tube, tends to flatten out and dull what is a three-dimensional, sharp, and kinetically felt art that, traditionally, is best experienced live.

While I still believe that to be true, watching – and enjoying – the recent showing of the Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet’s production of “Giselle” made me come to the conclusion that not all hope is lost. Wearing the inevitable glasses, the effects of seeing dance filmed in 3-D are amazingly, well, three-dimensional. There is depth and depth-perception, that gives a sensory illusion that makes it lift itself right off the screen. These figures on the huge silver screen are truly larger than life, being enlarged in such as way as might never be possible on the live stage.

With these impressions, I find myself on the other side of the fence from previous reviewers. Yes, we could complain about some shots, but I thought overall that it was quite good. I’m also one of those persons who “cheats” a bit with the 3-D glasses and like to occasionally slide them down my nose to compare – and guess what?! – sometimes it was just as good as 2-D [not out of focus as true 3-D is when used and seen without the glasses]. My cue here was my 92 year-old father who was with us, who took his glasses off a couple of times, saying under his breath, “I don’t need these.” My understanding of why using 3-D is not always to make objects or persons stand or fly off of the screen but that it can also provide enhancement to depth of color and the richness of what’s there. This seems to be true here. Other times, it was obvious that technology was being used with the intent of making it 3-D.

Osipova thrilled me with her elevation – I saw complete jumps -- and Sarafanov’s 28 entrechat six, which he began with arms en bas and then made them more uncontrolled as if to show his near-death exhaustion were perfect – I mean just perfect. Tight, even beats with both legs making the action evenly (one leg tends to want to dominate, which is natural).

Perhaps not perfect for everyone’s taste, Mariinsky’s “Giselle” is a very good example of the use of current technology and how it may apply to a very old and venerable 3-D art form.

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