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Ballets Russes (2006)

Irina Baronova , Yvonne Chouteau , Daniel Geller , Dayna Goldfine  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Irina Baronova, Yvonne Chouteau, Yvonne Craig, Frederic Franklin, Alan Howard
  • Directors: Daniel Geller, Dayna Goldfine
  • Writers: Daniel Geller, Dayna Goldfine, Celeste Schaefer Snyder, Gary Weimberg
  • Producers: Daniel Geller, Celeste Schaefer Snyder
  • Format: Color, NTSC, Special Edition, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Zeitgeist Films
  • DVD Release Date: September 12, 2006
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000G5SIBM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,749 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Ballets Russes" on IMDb

Special Features

  • "Encores": a 55-minute, four-part series of additional behind-the-scenes, rehearsal and interview footage with Ballets Russes dancers and collaborators
  • Rare archival footage, including Ballets Russes performances not in the film
  • Extensive photo galleries of Ballets Russes staris, additional dancers and vintage Playbill Covers
  • Original Theatrical Trailers

Editorial Reviews

Filmmakers Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine have fashioned a dazzlingly entrancing ode to the revolutionary 20th century dance troupe. The film maps the company's Diaghilev-era beginnings in turn-of-the-century Paris to its halcyon days of the 30s and 40s wh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
112 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "What will I do, sell fruit? This is my life." February 5, 2006
By A Customer
The good news is that in Ballets Russes, viewers don't need to know anything about ballet to enjoy this electrifying documentary by Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine, This is a lovingly and confidently made documentary that brings to life an era of unequaled artistic excitement. Equally heart-wrenching, and riveting and thoroughly entertaining the Ballet Russes unwinds like a historical thriller, laying bare the politics, rivalries, tremendous egos, and creative appetites that produced two of the world's greatest ballet companies.

Weaving actual historical footage of the companies with interviews of these dancers today, the film starts with a first-ever reunion of Ballets Russes dancers in New Orleans in 2000, and juxtaposes this with the various permutations of the troupes that started with impresario Serge Diaghilev's legendary Paris-based Ballets Russes. When Diaghilev died in 1929, ballet came to a standstill until a pair of entrepreneurs began Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo two years later.

What follows is a beguiling journey through the intoxicating twists and turns of the next 30 years of ballet history, which involved competing companies, the legendary choreographers George Balanchine, Leonide Massine and David Lichine, and almost every major dancer you can think of, including dancers such as Alicia Markova and Alexandra Danilova. The guides through this world are the dancers themselves, many white-haired and elderly, offering up sharp and often-funny anecdotes. Some were barely in their teens at the time, from families who had lost everything in the Russian Revolution.
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68 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Let's remember the old days." January 16, 2006
Today practically every one-horse town in America has a ballet studio: One room affairs with tinkly piano music and an aging grand dame leading rows of tu-tu-clad little girls. We take it for granted, but at the beginning of the last century ballet was almost nonexistent in the US, and elsewhere in the world it was in serious danger of dying out. When two banker-types decided to restart a legendary dance troupe and give the art of ballet a new, modern face, they single-handedly resurrected the art form and changed the world of dance forever.

"Ballet Russes" documents the golden years of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and its offshoot, the Original Ballet Russe. Through wonderful archival footage and delightful interviews with surviving dancers (of which there are a surprising amount; dancing is very good for your health) we witness incredible athleticism, heartbreaking artistry, and enough drama to fill ten seasons of "Desperate Housewives".

There's the machinations of warring choreographers Massine and Balanchine (he of the "baby ballerinas"), the love affairs and feuds of the dancers ("The Russians weren't very nice to each other," recalls Fredrick Franklin, still delightfully gossipy in his eighties) and of course recollections of playing a Salvador Dali ballet in Middle America ("Strange people dressed in strange costumes doing strange things", as one dancer puts it.).

These were some spectactular-looking people, as the photos attest. Three ballerinas, now pushing ninety, get all giggly remembering the hunkiness of George Zoritch (who is still alive and looks at least twenty years younger than he is).
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars For Every Ballet Fan March 3, 2007
Format:DVD
This is an absolutely delightful DVD. It combines narration, archival footage, and interviews with original(!) members of the companies to produce a very engaging history. To clarify, the DVD is about two companies: the "Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo" and the so-called "Original Ballet Russe" company, both of which split off from the _real_ original Ballet Russe - which as all of you know was the company of Najinsky etc. - after 1929.

Everything about this DVD is first-class. The archival footage is very clean. The narration clarified many points of history about which I was very confused, including how George Balanchine bounced around like a pinball from place to place during those early years. Best of all was the contemporary footage and oral history interviews of company members. I could hardly believe how many dancers from the two companies are still around in the 21st century! We're talking WWII-era here. If this were Japan, we would declare them National Treasures. Many of them in their 80s, they are still vital and active in teaching, and in at least one case, performing! And they are still such lovely people that my heart just went out to them.

The DVD cover includes a url for more information: [...]; do check it out, and I hope you like it as much as I did!
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deliriously wonderful film September 30, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
First up, I am not into ballet, or at least not very much. It's never been an artform that has grabbed me, with occasional exceptions. However, this documentary is one of the most beautiful, charming, witty and moving films I have ever seen (and I'm old, so that says a lot). The performers - some of them now in their 90's and still hale - are remarkable, and the ease with which the filmmaker moves through the history of these amazing two companies of artists is a joy to behold. I saw this on a whim in the theater when it first came out; I laughed at some of the dancers' memories, cried at the sheer beauty of the historic footage, and came out feeling wonderful about life and the magic that is performance art at its very best.

At times funny, at times touching, always beautiful, this film is both a loving tribute to an extraordinary time and a consummate work of art.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Historic Movie and Enjoyable
Rented this on Netflix and decided to buy it. The particular DVD I received had some pauses in it, but customer service was good and resolved it. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Love Addict
5.0 out of 5 stars Bravos for the Ballet Russes!
Having lived near the center of the 40's ballet world, both at rehearsals halls and lovely performances, I can say that this is a most amazing and very welcome chronicle of the... Read more
Published 2 months ago by joy copenhaaver
4.0 out of 5 stars Ballet history and fascinating personal accounts
This documentary recounts the history of the two ballets russes which were formed after Diaghilev's death. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Gypsy
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential and beautiful film for the dance lovers
This is not only a history of dance after the Diaghilev era (roughly after 1930), but the history of the two companies that continued the tradition of the Ballet Russe in Europe... Read more
Published 4 months ago by JF THIBAULT
4.0 out of 5 stars I was forced to watch this
As part of my college class, we watched this in class. We did not finish watching in class and had to finish at home for the test. Read more
Published 6 months ago by brian
5.0 out of 5 stars wow
exquisite and moving film that i would recommend to anyone who loves ballet and the dancers of those esciting times....
Published 6 months ago by Laura Kramer
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history
It's wonderful to see interviews of the surviving members of the company. The context is one every ballet dancer should know.
Published 7 months ago by Chip Morris
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting old footage of ballet show and, intriguing story told...
My 8y old daughter, who takes ballet lessons and loves ballet wanted to watch this movie. Her two younger siblings (5y girls and 3y old) watched it together, and they all enjoyed... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Noriko Tonomura
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of wonderful interviews, footage of famous dancers.
Wonderful interviews and found footage of famous dancers with the Ballets Russes
A clear explanation of the competition between these two groups. Read more
Published 9 months ago by marion l geller
5.0 out of 5 stars Ballets Russes, the story of those who carried the ballet torch
I helped organized the New Orleans Conference that brought these artists together and the fact that this wonderful film came in great part because of the reunion, and the fact that... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Olga G. Smoak
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