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Joel Kasow
Fanfare, March 2011

In its continuing hagiography of Rudolf Nureyev, Arthaus has now reissued a 1999 DVD devoted to Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty. Narrated by Elisabeth Platel, we are given background to the work, some scenes at the Mariinsky, and commentary by Ninel Kurgapkina, before moving on to rehearsals at the Paris Opera under the direction of Patricia Ruanne as she revived the ballet for a new production at the Opéra Bastille. Once again we have the seamless interweaving of rehearsal and performance, the mild reprimands of Ruanne to the corps de ballet who are continually chattering, the intense physicality of rehearsal that is masked in performance. Elisabeth Platel is more than up to the demands of Aurora, and she explains the way the choreography evolves to show the Princess coming to maturity, which she then illustrates with her dancing. Manuel Legris is the perfect partner, showing off the intricacies of Nureyev’s choreography for the Prince’s melancholy solo. I would once again take exception to the subtitle of this series, The Great Ballets of Rudolf Nureyev; it is only in the accompanying material that Petipa’s work is mentioned, which is more than can be said of the (anonymous) dancers who perform as Bluebird and Princess Florine. Once again, this is a DVD of moderate interest, though more instruction can be had by watching some of the performances available elsewhere: Irina Kolpakova with the Kirov, Sofiane Sylve with the Dutch National Ballet, or Aurélie Dupont with the Paris Opera Ballet.

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