Now, as to the rest and why I think, in general, this performance is disappointing. Dowell was a very fine dancer: crisp, clean lines, elegant and satisfactory virtuosity, all in evidence here, as is his natural reticence which is out of place in this piece....... There is no chemistry between him and Makarova. He might as well have been reading the phonebook as he danced. In some ways he struck me as the all-purpose, highly skilled partner doing his job for the visiting ballerina of the evening. Makarova had great partners in this role throughout her career, most notably Ivan Nagy. Together they could make the second act pas-de-deux a truly moving experience. It's a pity such wasn't the case here.
Another drawback to this performance was the Royal Ballet itself. I think it was in a rather fallow period at the time. The swans sleepwalk through their part and are off-and-on sloppy. The various dances in the third act are a bore, the Spanish Dance is particularly ludicrous. Though Wayne Sleep does a very good job in the Italian number, everybody else in all the other dances reek of mediocrity, particularly the women. There's no virtuosity, no command of line or technique.... Where's the zest?Read more ›
This performance of the Royal Ballet was filmed live in 1980 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in London for an invited audience. Odette-Odile is performed by Natalia Markarova; Prince Siegfried is danced by Anthony Dowell. Choreography is by Frederick Ashton (after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov). The tape is clearly filmed and has nice production values.
The waltz in the first act is Ashton's own choreography. I don't care for it because the steps are too loosely related to the well-known social dance for my personal tastes. In a typical Kirov performance, the waltz is an opportunity to show just how graceful the dancers are, but in Ashton's version, it evolves into a spectacle of big jumps and intricate footwork that, unfortunately, doesn't fit the character of the music very well. The highlight of the first act is Anthony Dowell's variation, which is beautifully performed.
The ballerina makes her appearance in the second act. Makarova certainly has a lovely quality to her adage, featuring nice leg extensions and graceful movements, however, there are other areas of her dance that are not nearly as polished. Makarova isn't an accomplished jumper; for instance, her sissonnes in Odette's solo near the end of the second act are the most lethargic I've ever seen on videotape. Furthermore, she's not a prodigious turner, and her supported pirouettes are often a bit rough.Read more ›