52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on June 1, 2005
I have seen no less than three Corsaire's now in different productions and this is easily the best. The dancing is absolutely superb, the costuming and sets are beautiful and the whole production is a joy.
Although Pankova is my favourite of the Kirov dancers and she is beautiful as Gulnara, I loved Asylmuratova in this performance and the whole company's performance sparkled throughout. The production is exciting and never flags for a second, and you're on the edge of your seat the whole time waiting for the next piece of fantastic dancing, to the point that you want to watch it all over again when it's finished. The section entitled Le Jardin Anime is particularly lovely and the Pas de Trois which was made famous as a Pas de Deux by Fonteyne and Nureyev is also wonderful.
Buy this. I can't recommend it too highly.
42 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2002
I am a big FAN of ballet, but not a CRITIC; thus, I'm not qualified to analyze this performance down to every minute detail as some of the other very erudite reviewers have done. Dance--especially ballet--is far and away my favorite form of performance art, and I loved ABT's "Le Corsaire" for overall presentation, great artistry, lively dancing, and excellent editing.
The Dancing. "Le Corsaire" is a full-length ballet story that centers on a beautiful slave (Medora, danced by Julie Kent) who becomes the object of desire of more than a couple of pirates (principal characters danced by Ethan Stiefel, Angel Corella, Joaquin De Luz and Vladimir Malakhov). It's a theme we're all familiar with (I dare say, perhaps in real life also), so the inbuilt intrigue is enough to keep viewers interested throughout the story. The dancing in this performance (staged in Southern California in 1999) is absolutely awesome from a technical standpoint, and there are many moments that caused me to marvel. Principal dancers Corella, Paloma Herrera and Malakhov put on truly amazing displays of athleticism, balance and fluidity. Same with Julie Kent, who still looks like my ideal ballerina in terms of beauty and grace. Even the corps shines, especially in Act III. I must admit [picky comment] I was a tad underwhelmed by Ethan Stiefel, not because of his dancing, but because he seemed to be miscast: his slight build and boyish looks just didn't convey what I expected from a pirate. This little "flaw" was not enough to detract from the performance.
The Interludes. Prior to each act there is commentary by Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie and interviews (more like sound bites) with dancers and backstage personnel that are supposed to provide insight into what is portrayed as a confusing (I'm not certain why) storyline. Although it's a mildly interesting added dimension to hear the characters speak behind the scenes, much of the cast comes across as a little goofy and/or tongue-tied. I watched the first time; in the future I'll likely skip these parts.
The Visuals. I have to say that this ballet DVD showcases some of the best camera work and editing I've ever experienced for a dance performance. Edits betwen full stage and individual character views are timely and allocated perfectly. Thankfully, the common mistake (seen so often on television these days) of zooming in on a performer's face--while missing the body's attitude and movement--virtually never surfaces on this disc. There are a couple of distracting instances where the conductor's baton flicks into the bottom of the picture, and where some standing audience members obscure the dancers at curtain call time. Still, 99% of the time the camera is looking exactly where my eyes want to go, and that scores big points in watching a great performance like this.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on December 21, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
We watched the American Ballet Company production of this magnificent ballet on PBS tonight, 20 December 1999. It is an absolutely superb production with some of the most athletic dancing we have ever seen. It's an exotic plot, set in an Orientalia kingdom--a pasha is the opera buffo--and involving lovely slave maidens, handsome male adventurers, and intrigue. Its history is interesting too: over the years, many Russian composers have contributed bits and parts so that today, about six composers in all (Tchaikowsky, Glinka, Berlioz et al are part of the composers' ensemble). This great ballet survives only because Russia preserved its many transformations. See it. It is marvelous, and a whole new introduction to classical ballet.
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on December 22, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
American Ballet Theatre has done it again! With out fault they have once again surpassed all expectations with Le Corsaire. The ballet's story line once confusing, is now simplistic. The dancers: Stiefel, Correra, Kent, Herra, and newcomer Murphy have unquestionable talent beyond their years. The choreography is flawless, each step is given to portray the character it represents, not another. The combination of pure talent, and pure choreography equals nothing but the best.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2003
American Ballet Theatre's DVD of its 1999 performance of "Le Corsaire" at the Orange County Arts Center is both technically brilliant and beautiful. It is based on the classic story "The Corsair" (1814) by Lord Byron. A somewhat confusing tale that centers on the beautiful slave girl Medora, performed majestically by Julie Kent, who has been sold to a jovial Pasha, portrayed by Michael Owen. Unfortunately her heart belongs to the swashbuckling pirate Conrad, danced by the charismatic Ethan Stiefel. Conrad eventually steals her away form the Pasha, and after a tragic ship crash, ends up stranded with her on a deserted island.
This performance was filmed with multiple cameras that provide just the right balance of wide stage shots and character driven close-ups. The cinematography is just right. Nothing fancy, no special effects, just the proper angles and framing that let the story be told without distracting from it.
The artistic director Kevin McKenzie did a wonderful job bringing this classic tale to life. The set design was grand in scale and magnificent in detail. Vibrant colors and textures helped to convey the proper mood for this pirate love story. The costuming and wardrobe added to the already colorful presentation. The score of several different composers, performed by the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Ermanno Florio, was lyrical and rhythmic, providing the perfect musical foundation for this tale.
Yet beyond all the set design, lighting, and costumes, it was really all about the dancing. Julie Kent (Medora) is the embodiment of style and grace. She is technically accurate and beautiful to watch. But it is Paloma Herrera's performance as the other slave girl (Guinare) that stole my heart. Paloma seems to have an unearthly sense of balance, as if gravity doesn't apply to her. She is able to stay up on pointe for what seems like an impossible amount of time. Her feet are so unnaturally flexible it makes me wonder if they aren't made out of rubber, or perhaps she is missing some bones. Paloma also seems to take more risks with her dancing as opposed to the safer performance of Julie Kent. The two of them provided the perfect compliment as the objects of desire for the leading men. Even though Ethan Stiefel did a splendid job as Conrad, it was his slave, portrayed by Angel Corella that really defines Le Corsaire as a ballet not to miss. Angel's leaping performance that was originally made famous by Rudolf Nureyev, had me stopping and rewinding repeatedly just to make sure that there weren't wires holding him up from the ceiling. He has more hang time than Michael Jordan. He is like a tornado on the stage, explosive and dangerous. His performance alone makes this DVD worth the asking price. Vladimir Malakhov (Lankendem) does a leaping routine were he lands in such an impossible and precarious way, that he must have Orthopedic surgeons salivating at the thought that this guy is going to blow his knees out. Yet somehow he makes it look so easy and natural, even though everyday mortals would be hard pressed to replicate.
American Ballet Theatre's Le Corsair is a joy to watch. With such outstanding performances, and great cinematography, this is one DVD you will keep coming back to it again and again.
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
I noticed a few reviews of ballet videos on Amazon recommending certain videos/dvds as representations of "professional" productions. In other words, certain ballet videos/dvds can and should(?) be used to show youngsters what the real world of ballet is all about. I use the question mark in my previous sentence to emphasize the uncertainty some persons might have about the idea of encouraging professional ballet dancing...however, I am writing here to assure any novice--expert ballet goer that the ABT version of Le Corsaire(1999) is as close to a great contemporary ballet experience as person can get today (on tape/dvd; of course live is the true experience). So, what does this mean? Get this video/dvd!! If you love ballet for what it should be today (i.e. virtuoso performances, grace, heartbreaking beauty, stunning costumes, aptly conducted music) then this is the end all be all of American ballet (and I contend that American ballet is the end all be all of ballet in the world today),don't miss it. This is American ballet at its best and if you are an aspiring ballet dancer or a seasoned dancer, you can't miss this! This performance has something to teach every viewer about the ultimate in professional American ballet. I chose to not address the performances of any certain dancer in this production because I don't feel personal performance comparison should be a matter for rating this video/dvd. Sure, there might be other productions that offer better performances in certain roles (although I contend here too that one is hard pressed to argue otherwise), but none the less this video/dvd is a complete package that is unparalleled in the limited ballet video/dvd market. Don't miss it!!
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2001
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
..:Le Corsaire" is entertaining as well as being populated by many of the finest dancers in America today (25 Feb 2001)... ...this presentation has brief periods of expository material presented by the production staff and dancers before each act... and then a beautifully and fully mounted three act ballet... I would say great family fare...and great for people who love great ballet....Act II contains the material practically owned by R. Nureyev and M. Fonteyn in the 1960's--but here integrated into the whole handsomely and performed with heartstopping fervor by Angel Corella, Julie Kent, and Ethan Steifel. ...for festive occassions...this is a lot more fun than "The Nutcracker" and has more real plot, too.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2004
I LOVE Corsaire!!!!!!!!! Infact I am watching it right this very moment. Now yes I'm only 12 but I know good dancing when I see it. I really only bought the dvd because Angel Corella was in it. And I love his dancing!!!!!!!!!!! Every dancer is amazing. Ethan Stiefel, Vladimir Malakhov (O my gosh is he amazing!), Joaqun De Luz, Paloma Herrea, Julie Kent and of course Angel Corella. (WOW!!!!!! That is all I can say about Angel. There aren't words to descibe him.) It was a wonderful preformance by ABT and barely any mistakes.It was great!!!!!! I hope to get more dvd's soon!! When I get another dvd I will tell you all about it but untill then BYE!!!!!!!!!
~ Your Friend,
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 27, 2004
I loved this ballet. Its a great story, a little confusing but Kevin McKenzie and others explain the plot so its not hard to follow. It has pirates, slaves, and other exciting things. Angel Corella, Julie Kent, Ethan Stiefel, Vladimir Malakhov, and Paloma Herrera are amazing. Its a great ballet DVD.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2001
THis is an absolute must have if you love ballet. The technique of each of the dancers is amazing. The quality of each Pas s mind blowing, and the dancers are so strong on their own that you never want it to stop. This is the best video of ballet I've ever seen.