Friday, November 20, 2009

Film of Diaghilev Ballet Russe Ballerina Absoluta At Home

Tamara Karsavina arranging things in a doll's house in the garden at home in England (1920s)

A couple of days ago I came across some footage of the great Mariinsky (now Kirov) Theatre and Serge de Diaghilev Ballet Russe prima ballerina, Tamara Karsavina ...

In 'L'Oiseau de feu' / 'Firebird' (1910)

In 'Giselle' with Vaslav Nijinsky (1910)

With Vaslav Nijinsky in 'Le Spectre de la Rose' (1911)

With Vaslav Nijinsky in 'Le Spectre de la Rose' (1911)

With Vaslav Nijnsky in 'Le Spectre de la Rose' (1911)

In 'Les Papillons' (1912)

In 'Les Papillons' (1912)

With Serge Lifar in 'Romeo et Juilette' (1926)

Tamara Karsavina c1960 teaching the ballerina role in 'Le Spectre de la Rose' (1911) to Margot Fonteyn

... doing a variety of ordinary and less ordinary things at home in England in the 1920s, such as arranging things in a doll's house ...

... choosing some material to be made into a dress ...

... reading a letter in her study ...

... exercising and dancing in the garden ...

... and leaving the house for a performance at the Coliseum Theatre in London ...

... turning to take a coat from a maid ...

... as a cat scurries past!

The footage of Tamara Karsavina in these mostly every day activities seems to make her more real and less like simply the great and remote legend of the photographs, memoirs, histories and biographies of the Ballet Russe era.

Friday, October 02, 2009

One of those What-Might-Have-Been Situations

I came across some very grainy footage recently of a most extraordinary ballet dancer - someone who obviously had the greatest future. Around 16, she'd been taking leading roles in the Mariinsky (Kirov) Theatre while still a student at the school.

The film shows Valentina Semyukova in a pas de deux from 'The Nutcracker'.

She already seems perfectly formed as a dancer, about to enlarge on her technique.

Through the movement, there is a perfect disposition of the forms of her body - creating an continuously exquisite line.

The phrasing with respect to the music is always intelligently considered and placed in an unmannered fashion. Not just following the music but leading purposefully away and then returning to catch the beat.

She is still technically tentative, which is particularly evident in the section involving 'fish dives' - the choreography has been simplified somewhat for the still developing dancer.

Very sadly, Valentina Semyukova died of an unspecified illness at just 17 years of age.