La Bayadere

Ok. I haven’t done this in a while, and it’s only been as of late that i got myself back into watching ballets on DVDs. My latest acquisition is The Royal Ballet’s La Bayadere, or The Temple Dancer.

This version that i have, was filmed in 1991 in the Royal Opera House, home to the Royal Ballet, and the orchestra was conducted by John Lanchberry. It is staged by Natalia Makarova, after Marius Petipa. Very interesting to note that Kirov Ballet’s Altynai Asylmuratova is dancing as Nikiya, the protagonist in this story, alongside Royal Ballet’s Darcey Bussell as the ‘love rival’, Gamzatti.

Frankly speaking, the only reason why i bought this DVD was because my favourite dancer, Altynai, was in it. Besides, i wanted to see for myself how great Darcey Bussell was in her heydays.

Altynai was amazing in the first act, but not so much in the second act. Her aplomb in the first act blew me away. It seemed like she had an ‘off day’ though, because she was unable to sustain balances in the adage parts of the second act. Darcey Bussell lived up to her name, and i enjoyed watching her dance. She is quite unlike other British-trained dancers in terms of technique and artistry, and i find it very fascinating and intriguing. I wasn’t a fan of her fouettes and italian fouettes though.

Irek Mukhamedov was Solor. He was formerly a Bolshoi dancer. I wasn’t impressed with him- i am in fact seldom impressed by male dancers. Not after you’ve watched Mikhail Baryshnikov, Ethan Steifel, Vladimir Malakhov, Faroukh Ruzimatov, Fernando Bujones and Herman Cornejo.

Watching Royal Ballet further reinforces the fact that the Russians are still the my favourite. Their corps isn’t great, though i must admit that their Kingdom of Shades was indeed beautiful. Their soloists were not coordinated, and neither did they perform well.

I guess it is the Russian-style that i am still drawn to, every single time i watch ballet. The Russians, especially Kirov, with their aplomb, epaulement, technique, artistry, everything, are hard to beat. Ah. But i guess, to each his own. I’m sure the others are all good, but i happen to take to Kirov alot.


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