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  • Felia Doubrovska Remembered - From Diaghilev's Ballets Russes to Balanchine's School of American Ballet
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Felia Doubrovska Remembered - From Diaghilev's Ballets Russes to Balanchine's School of American Ballet

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Felia Doubrovska was born in 1896 in St. Petersburg, Russia. She died in New York City in 1981. During those eighty five years, she spent 33 years first as a student at the Imperial Ballet School and then as a ballerina with some of the most famous ballet companies in history. After her retirement from the stage she devoted nearly the same span of time to her career as a teacher at the School of American Ballet. It was during this period that she made her great contribution to preserving the continuity of the tradition of classical and neoclassical ballet, as she participated in the training of almost all of the women in the New York City Ballet, the instruments of George Balanchine's choreographic genius. This film provides an affectionate memorial designed to introduce this elegant personality to those members of the audience who never knew her. It is also intended to be a lasting tribute to Felia Doubrovska for those of us who had the good fortune to pass through her sphere.

Product Details

  • Region: All Regions
  • Studio: Brooks Dance Films and Video
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001504T7E
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #186,421 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. E. Vonkoehler on January 29, 2009
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For all of you fascinated by the Ballets Russes or Balanchine. Or those of you who have a child in ballet class. I only knew Doubrovska from those photographs of her as the Siren in the Prodigal Son, or as the first Polyhymnia in Apollo (if you can take your eyes off of Danilova and Lifar), and from anecdotes from friends who went to SAB, who found her inspiring and endearing, albeit eccentric. After viewing this excellent DVD, I finally understand her allure as a dancer and brilliance as a teacher.
Maria Tallchief, Allegra Kent, and Maria Calegari speak about this woman's impact on them...and it is marvelous to notice how their body language (and even cadence of speech) alters as they describe Doubrovska. Each begins to pull their body into a more erect position, to alter the way they hold their heads. They become even more elegant. John Taras provides thoughtful insights and continuity. Best of all, Tanaquil Le Clerc's off-camera smoky voice adds shrewd observations which are smoothly integrated into this tale of a woman whose performing career spanned from ancien regime Russia to Diaghilev and Pavlova's adventures, and ended up bringing the best of these worlds to her American students .
Doubrovska herself-- caught on camera in 1978 -- talks charmingly about her great roles (and about working with those who created them): Nijinska for Les Noces and Les Biches; Balanchine for Apollo and Prodigal Son ( for the last of which she demonstrates a section in someone's living room, trapped between a vitrine and a coffee table!)
And there is more. Footage from her classes, demonstrating and giving corrections. The process of transmission at its best, and god, is she in shape.
And then the funniest moment arrives.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. Sequeira on February 23, 2009
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Madame Doubrovska *is* remembered. I just received this incredible DVD in the post from Virginia Brooks and I cannot recommend this DVD enough to dance lovers, historians of dance, theatre lovers, but especially to young ballet dancers who would have so much to gain by understanding the contribution a small handful of Russian dancers made to the history and genesis of modern American ballet and dance - Madame Doubrovska being a major influence and one of them. She taught at Mr. Balanchine's School of American Ballet and brought the Russian Imperial Tradition to the United States with Mr. Balanchine, and we love and remember her for what she and Mr. Balanchine did for us. This DVD includes utterly precious interviews with key players and creators in modern American ballet history, and if you collect and treasure videos, DVDs or anything else to do with ballet, the arts and theatre in general (but New York City Ballet and George Balanchine in particular) you will want to own this DVD. I try to explain to people what great ballet is, and what great tradition is, but one really has to see it and experience it "one-to-one" to really "get it". Some of Madame Doubrovska's energy, grace, and dignity are preserved here for all of us thanks to the efforts of Ms. Brooks. If you care about NYCB, Mr. Balanchine, ballet, or dance at all you will want to own and experience this DVD. I remember a story of Mr. Balanchine and NYCB being in Russia for the first time since Mr. Balanchine left, and the Russian dancers and NYCB's dancers were in the studio together, and Mr. Balanchine said to John Taras: "Let's show them how it's done." And NYCB did their thing, and the history of Russian theatre was changed. Now Madame Doubrovska shows us "how it's done" on DVD. Don't miss this!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. Bullen on September 24, 2008
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A gem of a DVD. Wonderful film clips. Wonderful reminiscences. Great history - live!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Richard Rawls VINE VOICE on June 27, 2009
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Since I purchased "Ballets Russes"....Ballets Russes....I have purchased other documentaries, and this is one of them. It is certainly not as good as Ballets Russes, but if you are interested in early ballet and it's beginnings, you need this one too. The sound quality is it's main defect, so you will need to view it several times to get an understanding, but still it is worthwhile. Felia Doubrovska was a beautiful human being. The world needs more like her. It is just too too bad there are no films of her dancing, but that's another good reason for getting this DVD. We do get to see her interacting with her students at the American Ballet School, and personal interviews with and by those who were intimate with her.....Richard.

P.S. Since they won't let me change my Star Rating above, at least I can add a change of mind here. This Docu is 5 star in content and I should have rated it that way to begin with. OK the sound quality isn't perfect, but the material is. So, buy this disc and enjoy it......Richard.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Koschka on January 28, 2010
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This film is wondrous. I read some reviews about this documentary when I was doing some research about Diaghilev. It was shown at a film festival in the United States. The reviews were wonderful and I moaned miserably to myself because I didn't think I would ever be able to view the film myself. (I live in Australia) Well, imagine my delight when I was searching Amazon for ballet films and this popped up. I COULDN'T BELIEVE MY LUCK. I COULD OWN THIS FILM??? UNBELIEVABLE!!! I couldn't get my order in quick enough, it arrived within days (thanks Virginia), I stopped everything, put on the dvd and just enjoyed. After the first viewing I made myself a mug of tea and, with mug of tea in hand, WATCHED IT AGAIN.

Virginia Brooks has done a wonderful job. Comment has been made about the audio quality when Madame Doubrovska is being interviewed. Fair enough and sub titles may have been helpful (and perhaps are still a possibility), however, after you have watched the film a couple of times (and you will watch it many many many times) you will understand her a lot better. Don't be discouraged from buying the dvd. She speaks in that charming way of elderly Russian ballerinas and one day, after watching the film a few times, you will understand and get the general idea. Perhaps one could suggest that she is so modest she doesn't want to talk about herself. Don't be put off, this rare footage of her is a must for every one interested in Diaghilev, Ballets Russes, New York City Ballet and so on.

Thank goodness there is film like this. Think how miraculous it is that there are snippets of film of Madame Karsavina, Madame Spessivtseva and Madame Danilova (to mention but a few).
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