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Chopin / Adam: Les Sylphides/ Giselle [DVD] [NTSC] 
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These two valuable studio performances comprise rare archive material featuring internationally renowned dancers released for the first time on DVD. Les Sylphides, introduced by one of the founders of modern British ballet, Tamara Karsavina, is one of the earliest examples of a complete filmed ballet in the BBC archives. The production boasts a stellar cast, including Alicia Markova, Prima Ballerina Assoluta and Founder and President of English National Ballet. Markova, invited by Diaghilev to join his Ballet Russes at just fourteen, was the first British dancer to become the principal dancer of a ballet company. Svetlana Beriosova became a prima ballerina at Sadlers Wells in 1955, and Violetta Elvin, one of the Bolshois most promising talents was often seen as Fonteyns closest rival. Giselle, one of the most popular ballets from the Romantic era, features Nadia Nerina in the title role. Renowned as the best technician at Covent Garden in the 1950s and 1960s, Nerina was famous for her acrobatic lifts. New York Times critic on Nerina: She is as pretty as a picture, has great charm and can dance like a million dollars.....we shall all be fighting to drink champagne out of her slippers!
Here is a Giselle to treasure. This Les Sylphides is essential viewing. --Clement Crisp, Financial Times, 25 June, 2011
Several ballet legends make rare appearances on film in a DVD of outstanding recordings of Giselle & Les Syphides from the BBC archives. --Rupert Christiansen, The Mail on Sunday, 17 July, 2011
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You also have the added attraction of the LES SYLPHIDE being introduced by Tamara Karsavina, who created the piece for Michel Fokine (dancing with Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky, no less)., with a wonderful cast. The GISELLE is another archival document, with a wonderful cast.
If you are interesting in ballet you should have this in your collection.
It’s long been known that the BBC has a unique store of dance treasures locked up in its archives: film after film of the great dancers of the last 60 years, in famous and fascinating productions, all of them unavailable to the general public. We were allowed occasional glimpses, usually during Jane Pritchard’s unmissable NFT seasons, but it seemed that the problems of copyright, performance rights and expense, which presumably prevented a general release, would never be satisfactorily resolved. Now, however, the ICA Classics company has apparently discovered the needful ‘open sesame’ and is publishing a whole series of these past glories on DVD: this one is shortly to be followed by Pineapple Poll and The Lady and the Fool, and then there’s a disc of Margot Fonteyn and Michael Somes in extracts from the three Tchaikowsky classics – and after that, who knows?: we could finally get to see Margaret Dale’s brilliant Petrushka, or even the Haydee/Doyle/Seymour mini-Onegin.
There’s a caveat, though: these performances were filmed more than half a century ago and we are seeing not only the dancing but also the television technology of the time. Before you can form any opinion about the dancers you need to discount the effect of tiny studios, live performance after too little rehearsal time, still-experimental camera work, and minimal scenery. On this disc,the Sylphides – dating from 1953 and the fourth oldest film in the whole archive – actually gets a more straightforward presentation than the Giselle from 5 years later. From contemporary reports it sounds as if in between, the experiments had got rather out of hand: E.C.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The find on this was the refined and well executed dancing of Alicia Markova in Les Sulphides, Someone that I have only heard about as a legend. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Eric Firkins
Good for those who like ballets. I think all of the 50-60's styles were the same. Good for collectionsPublished 17 months ago by sea guy