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on 22 September 2006
Meticulously compiled and presented, this documentary shows the history of Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, founded by Blum and Colonel de Basil in 1932 after the death of Diaghilev in 1929. It depicts its initial success, a break-up of the company into two separate entities (Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and Original Ballet Russe), their escape to the US after the outbreak of the World War II, their major success there and their eventual demise.

It is a fascinating documentay about the legendary ballet company, and is full of interesting anecdotes about various personalities including Diaghilev, Massine, Fokine and Balanchine. It has many interviews with former leading dancers, including Alicia Markova, Nathalie Krassovska, Irina Baronova (one of the "baby ballerinas"), Frederic Franklin and George Zoritch, interspersed with many photos and archive film clips. Furthermore, there are generous extras, including a photo gallery and archive materials. Those interested in ballet history will find it totally absorbing.

In one of the interviews, Alicia Markova says "We weren't paid (by Ballets Russes)..... But, think how (artistically) rich I am, working with those choreographers!" I think this says it all about great dancers.

What strikes the viewer is that all the former dancers interviewed have such a marvellous personality and are full of wit and humour. Some of them are still teaching dance students around the world, passing their art to the younger generation. Sadly a few of them have passed away since the film was produced.

Just one point about the title - I was expecting to see a documentary about Ballets Russes of Diaghilev as well as Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. I don't think the title is accurate enough: it should have been "Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo" in order to describe the contents more precisely.
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on 8 September 2007
Ah what beauty, what humanility! It is a masterclass in ageing gracefully. Though I am an immense fan of ballet and dance of all kinds, and am a keen dance student, that is not to say that this product would only appeal to people like myself. The amazing stories and characters around this legendary ballet company is set with the backdrop of the changing climates, and some of the greatest, most dramatic events of the 20th Century! Through the 2 world wars, the fall of imperial Russia and the mass exodus of the Russian refugees. Mothers' hopes for their children by sending them to what ballet studios they could find in foreign lands, bickering of the management, choreographers, dancers, as well as the enormous and blinding talent of the choreographers, the beauty and grace of these dancers, with personalities that cannot be contained by TV screen, even the film screen. The outright humanity of these people who appear to be ethereal creatures on stage and on screen, who, after all these years, still eloquent, still haughty and well aware of their talent and their place in cultural history. Most of all still passionate about their art. All these, and there is the dance, the music goes on, and they leap and jump and twirl and pirouette and fouette their way into legend.

The feature opens with 2 quotes, a wonderful long quote from Dame Alicia Markova, "suddenly, I can see everything...", and "it is the nature of dance to exist but for a moment." This treasure trove of archival footages ensure that they'll never age, never die, and will be young, healthy and forever doing what they love best.
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on 24 October 2006
For anyone who loves ballet, and ballet history, and for anyone who needs to learn how to grow old gracefully, this documentary offers pleasures indeed.

Not only does one get all the gossip and history of the different dancers making their way after Diaghilev's Ballets Russes disbanded into differengt groups, but one feels one has spent a couple of hours in the company of the most charming and inspiring people imaginable..... it is a film I could watch every night. Sheer magic!
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on 28 October 2010
This is definitely not a DVD about any particular ballet performed by the Ballet Russes company; but concentrates instead on the history of dancers, choreographers and managers, giving quite an in-depth view of what went on behind the scenes and the changing fortunes of the company from its inception. I was hungry for more information following a visit to the Diaghilev exhibition at the V&A , and though I would have dearly loved to see more complete archive footage of the ballets, I was not disappointed with this DVD...as you still get to see snippets of performances by some of the original dancers, both male and female.
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on 20 June 2009
I bought this as a gift for a friend, as I had the DVD as soon as it appeared. It is the most delightful evocation of the years of Les Ballets Russes with contributions from many of the original dancers who retain all their elegance, style and charm if just a little stiffer.Alas, several have died in the intervening years since the film was made. Mostly Russian with captivating accents and tales to tell. There are many archive shots of the dancers in their glory days. Anyone with the smallest interest in ballet will love this film.
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on 17 July 2010
A wonderful window on the traditions and characters of the Ballets Russes.I found it particularly nostalgic as I played for Krassovska when she was teaching here in Scotland on summer schools(she had a scottish father) and she is the same inimitable person I remember-sadly she died around the time this was released.Treat yourself and wallow in Dance in days of yore!
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on 6 February 2011
This is very fascinating with the history of ballet and lots of ancient clips of past dancers, how ballet almost died but was resussitated, with commentaries by the three main girl dancers, now elderly but still amusing & interesting. The voyages in Australia and America, bringing russian ballet to people who had never seen or dreamt of such folly and beauty. Every day a different town, the dancer's endurance was incredible, they lived for their art and not the money. Superb.
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on 3 March 2011
There is not much to say about this production except IT IS ABSOLUTELY, TOTALLY, BRILLIANT!!!
These 'old birds' are a real treat to listen to. When I ordered this I assumed it was ballet performances. The actual content is, in many ways, much more facinating for any ballet fan.
ENJOY, ENJOY, ENJOY!
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on 5 May 2011
This is a fascinating documentary. Sadly the original original Ballet Russe existed before film was readily available, but the DVD provides some great stills from this period as well as second stage Ballet Russe footage and some wonderful contemporary interviews with the dancers from this period who are now very old and often very witty.
Anyone interested in social history, the arts or ballet specifically will love this.
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on 6 March 2011
What a truly captivating video this is - of a lost world of talent, hard work and fun. Lovely to watch the ability of those so young and then to see how nicely these dancers had matured, remained positive and on the whole did not take themselves too seriously or think of themselves as anything other than lucky to have been in the right place at the right time to enjoy the whirlwind life they had been a part of.
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