CriticalDance Forum

Flames of Paris Film
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Author:  Cassandra [ Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:23 am ]
Post subject:  Flames of Paris Film

Last night a special event took place, a live performance by the Bolshoi Ballet in Flames of Paris was broadcast to a number of selected cinemas in France and the UK.

Although I am familiar with some of the original Vainonen choreography of the ballet from video clips, this was a new version by Alexei Ratmansky which retained some of the original choreography but had an altered libretto. This tale of the French revolution was said to be Stalin’s favourite ballet and there is a lot of stirring action with the peasants fighting the aristocrats. In the original form the ballet concerned a group of siblings joining the freedom fighters after the family home was burnt down by the wicked landlord, whilst in Paris a young actress and her lover become privy to a plot to hire Prussian mercenaries to suppress the revolution. The young man is killed for possessing this knowledge and the actress flees to join the revolutionaries who of course win the day.

In Ratmansky’s hands the plot becomes a lot more interesting: brother and sister Jeanne and Jerome leave their homes for Paris with the revolutionaries after Jerome was forced to intervene when the local Marquis forces his attentions upon Jeanne. He is beaten up and thrown in a cell for his pains but is rescued by the Marquis’s beautiful daughter, Adeline. In Paris the Marquis and Adeline attend the ballet along with Louis XIV and Marie-Antoinette, but revolution breaks out and in the ensuing melee Adeline is reunited with Jerome and they declare their love. Meanwhile sister Jeanne has fallen for the dashing Philippe whom she marries (it’s a very brief engagement). The Marquis is captured and led away to execution but Adeline foolishly runs after her father only to be guillotined. The ballet ends with the revolutionaries celebrating their success whilst Jeanne and Philippe ponder on the reality of the new order and Jerome is handed the head of poor Adeline by her father’s servant.

It was quite a ballet, massively enjoyable from start to finish and with a cast made up of much of the Bolshoi’s finest. Jeanne was danced by Natalia Osipova who was a whirling dervish from start to finish, her fouettés in one place even punctuated with little jumps on pointe: what a girl, making her pitch as the ballet world’s super star. As her lover and eventual husband Ivan Vasiliev danced with a great deal of élan though of course for me he had to compete with clips I’ve seen of the of the great Vakhtang Chabukiani, but I still felt he did well. The best male dancing of the night in my view came from Denis Savin in the more fleshed out role of Jerome who got the opportunity for both virtuosity and more lyrical passages in his dancing with Adeline, he also acted very well and his grief at the loss of his beloved, cradling her severed head with a mixture of horror and devotion was very moving. As Adeline the lovely Nina Kaptsova at last has a role that does justice to her multi faceted talents, she didn’t strike a wrong note once in a part that could easily trip over into melodrama and her dancing was a dream, the passages with Jerome fused with love and innocence.

The lesser roles were pretty damn good too: Anna Antonicheva was a baroque ballerina with a superior air with Ruslan Skvortsov as her adoring partner. Yan Godovsky was both funny and very impressive in the Marseillaise dance. The Marquis Costa de Beauregard, to give the bad guy his full title, was Yuri Klevtsov, one of the Bolshoi’s classiest acts; he wears his years very lightly, looking old enough to be Adeline’s father but young enough to give a perfect account of some pretty demanding steps. Gennadi Yanin’s King Louis was a priceless cameo of a performance; a smug self satisfied twit nevertheless spurred to jealously by the attentions his courtiers' pay to the romantically aware Marie Antoinette of Olga Suvorova.

The corps de ballet was superb all the way through with that rebel rousing character dancing so characteristic of the Russians and though I’ve left her till last Ekaterina Krysanova well near stole the show with her cheeky little Cupid in the ballet section, what a star turn she is!

Inexplicably this ballet doesn’t come to London this summer, although Paris gets to see it in 2011. Amazingly I’m assured there are other casts that match this one and after the taste for this ballet I developed last night, I am hungry to see them.

Author:  Cassandra [ Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:51 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Flames of Paris Film

I have found a couple of newspaper reviews of Flames of Paris:

The Guardian: ... hoi-review

The Times: ... 084770.ece

I very much agree with Debra Craine's comments about lack of information, some sort of hand out with the ballet synopsis printed on it would have come in useful. Prices for this event were very high for a film, probably too high to attract a casual cinema goer with curiosity about ballet. A staff member at the cinema I went to told me that for similar opera events the house had been completely full, whereas for Flames of Paris it was only about a quarter full: a great pity.

Hopefully this performance will in time become available on DVD and I would strongly advise those that haven't seen it yet to buy a copy if it does.

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Apr 09, 2010 7:15 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Flames of Paris Film

Just to add that the photo accompanying the Guardian review is most definitely not Ivan Vasiliev, nor anyone else in the film under discussion.

Author:  jpc [ Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:22 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Flames of Paris Film

Cassandra wrote:
Just to add that the photo accompanying the Guardian review is most definitely not Ivan Vasiliev, nor anyone else in the film under discussion.

Curious. The photo looks somewhat like ABT's Daniil Simkin, who, I believe, has in his repertory a 'Flames..' pas de deux.

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