public forum
home forum magazine gallery links about faq courtesy
It is currently Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:52 pm

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 12 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Film review: PRIMA BALLERINA: TWO FILM PORTRAITS
PostPosted: Mon Dec 14, 2009 3:47 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1761
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
FILM REVIEW
PRIMA BALLERINA: TWO FILM PORTRAITS
by Laurent Gentot
Distributed by FirstRunFeatures
By Catherine Pawlick

The world’s vast treasure chest of ballet films, still considered miniscule by many staunch balletomanes, now boasts one more gem in its collection. Laurent Gentot’s “Prima Ballerina: Two Film Portraits” provides sketches of two leading ladies from the richest traditions in classical Russian ballet: Uliana Lopatkina and Svetlana Zakharova, representing Russia’s Mariinsky and Bolshoi theatres, respectively.

While not emphasized in the films, it is telling that both ballerinas received their training from the elite Vaganova School in Saint Petersburg. Both began their careers inside the Mariinsky Theatre, although Zakharova now dances with the Bolshoi in Moscow and has for some time. Despite their shared iconic status, the first portrait on the menu is Zakharova’s, which offers less revelation or insight than her counterpart’s profile. Nonetheless, those thirsting for shots of the ballerina in class, rehearsal and performance will find that her portrait douses the dryness in some measure.

Compared to Lopatkina’s profile, Zakharova’s is far less complex. Introduced as the “best ballerina in the world” (translated in the English subtitles instead as “most exceptional”), Zakharova herself speaks vaguely about remaining on the path of ballet throughout her life, no matter what else has occurred, but it’s not clear what challenges she has faced. She adds that while she dances, the music helps her enter a role, a disclosure neither novel nor revealing. It’s clear in shots of her rehearsal or performance clips that the ballerina is blessed with a natural degree of flexibility that only aids in the perfection of ballet technique, demanding less development, in some cases, than other dancer might require. Indeed, she admits that the role of Odette is too difficult and mysterious; the ballerina finds Odile easier to dance. Russian ballet critic Ekaterina Belyayeva describes Zakharova as a more “Western” type of ballerina, which has incited the dancer’s repeated invitations to guest in Paris and elsewhere in Europe. This minor point is an essential distinction and one that is not shared by Lopatkina’s purer representation of the Russian manner of dance. Nonetheless, blessed with naturally long, slender lines and highly arched feet, it is impossible to regard Zakharova and not be impressed by her beauty. The brief commentary by Yuri Grigorovich and his late wife Natalia Bessmertnova at the end of the film further confirms Zakharova’s privileged status in the world of ballet.


The brilliance of the second portrait on the menu further illuminates the leading position of its ballerina, Uliana Lopatkina, both in this particular film set and in the maturity of her approach to her art. Without the Guillem-like flexibility that has inspired both Zakharova and her younger, coltish protégé Alina Somova, Lopatkina has far less of the circus-trick flair so plaguing audiences --and encouraged by directors-- today. Instead she is distinguished by higher values: rightfully termed the true “emblem of the Mariinsky Theatre” and “heiress to Petipa,” Lopatkina’s depth of intellect and supreme artistry are revealed in this short film.

Shots of Lopatkina in Sergei Berezhnoi’s company class, alongside Leonid Sarafanov and Ti En Ru, or her work alone in the studio help explain the films early claims that she is a “symbol of the perfection of classical ballet” and “the most musical dancer in the world.” This last point, a time-proven descriptor of this now-iconic terpsichorean goddess, issues in part from the ballerina’s careful, analytical approach to her art. Through shots of her fluid, fragile arms framing a doll-like face, we witness Lopatkina preparing with Jose Martinez for “Swan Lake” during the 2007 Mariinsky Festival. Glimpses of her dressing room set the stage for some of the ballerina’s reflections on the spiritual components of her art.

Lopatkina’s analysis of the psychological adaptation made by successful ballerinas in their roles is telling. As she discusses the “memory of the soul” brought forth from a character, the deep thought she gives her art is readily apparent. One quickly senses that Lopatkina is not a ballerina born in the right place and time, but one who has worked hard to achieve her current status and who attends to philosophical considerations of art, theatre, and life. Her depth of intellect is visible here and hard to match, no matter what the profession. She acknowledges the inevitability of fulfilling classical dance with the modern rhythms of life today, preparing for each performance as if “for a battle.” And she discusses stage tactics, the necessity of preparing for issues of costume, lighting, scenery, tempo – everything outside the performer’s control in a live production.

The work of the ballet dancer, we’re told, is “damned to imperfection.” Watching this seemingly flawless ballerina, however, one whose art form extends to her philosophy on life, the phrase seems almost laughable. Surely a creature of such beauty and depth is closer to perfection than the rest of us mortals. But it is precisely that element, every dancer’s endless dissatisfaction with what they’ve achieved, the desire to improve, that makes this art form what it is.

Gentot has done a wonderful job in the clarity and presentation of his film portraits. If “Prima Ballerina” has any flaws, it is only that these profiles are too short, and that there are far too few films of their kind.

_________________
Author, "Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition" (available on amazon.com)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Film review: PRIMA BALLERINA: TWO FILM PORTRAITS
PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:23 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 1640
Location: London UK
I am very sorry they have chosen the execrable Zakharova to represent the Bolshoi, surely it should be Alexandrova?


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Film review: PRIMA BALLERINA: TWO FILM PORTRAITS
PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 11:42 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Oct 31, 2005 5:19 pm
Posts: 186
Cassandra wrote:
I am very sorry they have chosen the execrable Zakharova to represent the Bolshoi, surely it should be Alexandrova?
Alexandrova has a devoted following, but she's not the "face" of the Bolshoi like Zakharova is. Also, even though Alexandrova is Moscow born, bred and homegrown, her repertory and credits aren't as extensive or as global as Zakharova's.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Film review: PRIMA BALLERINA: TWO FILM PORTRAITS
PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:40 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 1640
Location: London UK
Though I will concede that Zakharova’s worst excesses were honed down at the Bolshoi, she remains an utter eyesore and a stylistic millstone around that company’s neck.

Some years ago after seeing her dance in London, a very eminent continental critic emailed me his opinion that Zakharova should never be seen on any stage anywhere. A view with which I still totally concur.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Film review: PRIMA BALLERINA: TWO FILM PORTRAITS
PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 6:39 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 5:02 pm
Posts: 1510
Location: USA-Switzerland
Thanks, Catherine, for introducing us to this new film and for your sincere and revealing observations.

In a more general sense I've been watching two videos a lot lately. One is the video that I have posted here a couple of times showing the universal joy and happiness that the simplest of spontaneous dancing can produce.

http://www.wherethehellismatt.com/video ... NKZTvHKkAq


The other video highlight is Svetlana Zakharova's (with Roberto Bolle) Act II duet from "Giselle."

Without discussing the merits of 'spontaneous dancing' or ballet, I feel that a dancer like Svetlana Zakharova, or any other 'ballerina' for that matter, reaches for an ideal and the result can be something of undefinable and unequaled beauty.



[I am trying to get the "www" entered correctly -- see Criticaldance "Dance Miscellany" -- "Where The H.... Is Matt?"]


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Film review: PRIMA BALLERINA: TWO FILM PORTRAITS
PostPosted: Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:56 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:30 pm
Posts: 14
Cygne wrote:
Cassandra wrote:
I am very sorry they have chosen the execrable Zakharova to represent the Bolshoi, surely it should be Alexandrova?
Alexandrova has a devoted following, but she's not the "face" of the Bolshoi like Zakharova is. Also, even though Alexandrova is Moscow born, bred and homegrown, her repertory and credits aren't as extensive or as global as Zakharova's.


Zakharova, whose mannerism has little in common with the free spirit that is the Bolshoi way, owes her iconic status at Bolshoi to publicity, not to tradition.

Alexandrova may not be a traditional ballerina-esque, Eternal Feminine kind of ballerina, but where the physique is imperfect the artistry fills in the gap. I wouldn't consider her repertory any narrower than Zakharova: La Sylphide, Misericordes, Coppelia, Paquita, Raymonda, Flames of Paris and now Esmeralda. Just compare their Raymondas and Kitris. Alexandrova is involved in almost every single Bolshoi reconstruction. How many new productions can we find Zakharova in? Do mock-Guillem pieces like "Revelation" and "Voice" count? Besides self-congratulatory galas, her full-length involvement more or less has centered around O/O, Giselle, a few Symphony Cs, and Nikiya. Yes, Alexandrova has less international luster, but doesn't that mean more time given to Bolshoi where artistic lead is needed? During an off-pitch Corsaire it is usually she who holds things together.

Alexandrova's relative "parochialism" actually inspires more respect in me, for the same reason that Elisabeth Platel and Lopatkina do. Instead of playing the rootless cosmopolitan at inferior theaters and trying out whatever is the fad, they prefer something more defined, more coherent and more pristine. Alexandrova's Carmen is the careful restoration of an Old Master painting to its original colors, rather than disfiguration by egoistic interpretations. I feel respected when watching performances by artists of this kind--be it Vlado Perlemuter in piano, or Arthur Grumiaux in violin, or Gundula Janowitz in singing--who feel secure in their knowledge that audience will see more than what meets the eye and not be carried away by vaudeville tricks.

I call that integrity.

Let's not forget that the corps is the true ballerina, and a stand-alone pas de deux is more show than drama. The system of unaffiliated international stars, on the other hand, is all about Me, Me and Me, like we need more Nina tours. I revere Gracheva because she stayed with Bolshoi through good and bad, rather than fluttering from one tour to a foreign theater to another tour like Nina A. I still have the Life portrait of her posing as a swan on top of a Muscovite roof. Likewise, Andrei Uvarov has never had the va-va-voom going as the King of Dance, but compared to Nikolai T. he remains for me a true danseur noble and a self-effacing, gentle partner.

I call that commitment.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Film review: PRIMA BALLERINA: TWO FILM PORTRAITS
PostPosted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 12:51 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1761
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Quote:
Alexandrova's relative "parochialism" actually inspires more respect in me, for the same reason that Elisabeth Platel and Lopatkina do. Instead of playing the rootless cosmopolitan at inferior theaters and trying out whatever is the fad, they prefer something more defined, more coherent and more pristine. Alexandrova's Carmen is the careful restoration of an Old Master painting to its original colors, rather than disfiguration by egoistic interpretations. I feel respected when watching performances by artists of this kind--be it Vlado Perlemuter in piano, or Arthur Grumiaux in violin, or Gundula Janowitz in singing--who feel secure in their knowledge that audience will see more than what meets the eye and not be carried away by vaudeville tricks.

I call that integrity.


Madigan, we are of like minds and like observations. I completely, wholeheartedly agree.

Quote:
Let's not forget that the corps is the true ballerina, and a stand-alone pas de deux is more show than drama. The system of unaffiliated international stars, on the other hand, is all about Me, Me and Me, like we need more Nina tours. I revere Gracheva because she stayed with Bolshoi through good and bad, rather than fluttering from one tour to a foreign theater to another tour like Nina A. I still have the Life portrait of her posing as a swan on top of a Muscovite roof. Likewise, Andrei Uvarov has never had the va-va-voom going as the King of Dance, but compared to Nikolai T. he remains for me a true danseur noble and a self-effacing, gentle partner.

I call that commitment.


Again I echo your sentiments.

What is sad is the mass of the ballet viewing public that don't seem to share this view, that see the egotistical ballet "star" (and there are others who fall into the category who you have not mentioned specifically here, but we know who they are), as an icon of sorts, when really they've in fact sacrificed the core meaning of their art in return for publicity and cash. But in terms of ballet aesthetics, true technique, genuine talent, artistry, dramatic interpretation, soulful emotion...they are sorely lacking.

_________________
Author, "Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition" (available on amazon.com)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Film review: PRIMA BALLERINA: TWO FILM PORTRAITS
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 11:00 pm 
Offline

Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:59 pm
Posts: 1
Film reviews, then by all means, give. Thus, film can provide new information for people to let them know what film could do better. Do not give too much criticism, however, simply give a little can serve its purpose well. These tips are important to keep in mind when writing film reviews. Just do not pull as much information to readers who kills his excitement at seeing the same movie. Would you like the new movie that give concise and to serve a purpose that will give readers a desire to see the movie and decide for themselves whether it is worth your time.


actress


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Film review: PRIMA BALLERINA: TWO FILM PORTRAITS
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:55 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 1640
Location: London UK
I don't see how reviewing a film is any different from reviewing a ballet, TV programme, or whatever. The reviewer should give an honest opinion no matter how harsh, after all who wants to waste their money and, more importantly, their time, watching something of no interest to them whatsoever? In this case though just the name of Svetlana Zakharova would be enough to have me scurrying in the opposite direction.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Film review: PRIMA BALLERINA: TWO FILM PORTRAITS
PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:19 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:17 am
Posts: 374
Angelika12 wrote:
....Do not give too much criticism, however, simply give a little can serve its purpose well. These tips are important to keep in mind when writing film reviews. ....


Huh? Are you, by chance, Angelique/Octavia/Fedora? Just asking. You sound familiar.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: Film review: PRIMA BALLERINA: TWO FILM PORTRAITS
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 2:58 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Jun 06, 2001 11:01 pm
Posts: 1640
Location: London UK
I was thinking that too, Natalia. On second thoughts maybe I shouldn't have fed the troll.


Top
 Profile E-mail  
 
 Post subject: Re: Film review: PRIMA BALLERINA: TWO FILM PORTRAITS
PostPosted: Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:54 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2005 8:17 am
Posts: 374
Cassandra wrote:
I was thinking that too, Natalia. On second thoughts maybe I shouldn't have fed the troll.


You're right. "It" is unmistakeable. :D

On a far more positive note: Only eight (8) days to go before Genya Obraztsova's O/O debut in Moscow! The countdown has begun...


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 12 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
The messages in this forum are posted by members of the general public and do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of CriticalDance or its staff.
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group