Strictly Bolshoi

“You really need to write a blog post about it”, my friend Heather persuaded me. The fact is, we have both been waiting five years now for Strictly Bolshoi to be released on DVD and it’s about time I pulled my finger out and wrote about it.

So here I am, prostrating at the feet of the Ballet Boyz. And this is why:

Aired on Christmas Day in 2007 via Channel 4, Strictly Bolshoi followed the trials and tribulations of Christopher Wheeldon, the first British choreographer to be invited to create a new work for the Bolshoi Ballet. Filmed by the Ballet Boyz, their fly-on-the-wall filming caught a rare moment in history and highlighted the creative limitation of Russian traditionalism.

The film is a feast for ballet lovers. Who would fail to devour the prima-donna petulance of dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze as he rejected Wheeldon’s improvisational work? Or later chuckle when Wheeldon house-visits Nikolai for tea, surrounded by framed pictures of…well, Nikolai…and…Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in his living room? As Wheeldon flounders to understand Nikolai’s diva behaviour, we gain a unique insight into two opposing forces within ballet. And that’s before the Bolshoi itself begins to question their invitation…

It seems such a shame that this unique film is only available to view via Sky Arts and so I guess this is my attempt to bring the film back under the spotlight.

Can we get a DVD release, guys??

Which brings me on to my top 5 dance documentaries that are available to own on DVD:

1. Fonteyn And Nureyev: The Perfect Partnership
Peter Batty’s famous film portrays the ballet world’s greatest partnership, with performances of ‘Giselle’, ‘Le Corsaire’, ‘les Sylphides 1&2’, ‘Marguerite et Armand’, ‘Swan Lake’, ‘Birthday Offering’ (dress rehearsal), ‘Hamlet and Ophelia’, and ‘Romeo and Juliet’.
Purchase your copy here.

2. Pina
A visual feast for the eyes, in additional to providing an emotionally moving account of Pina Bausch’s life and work. Director Wim Wenders follows the dancers out of the theatre into the city and the surrounding areas of Wuppertal. Unmissable.
Purchase your copy here.

3. Mcgregor: Triple Bill (Chroma/ Infra/ Limen)
Three for the price of one! Wayne McGregor’s seminal works for Royal Opera House are filmed in their entirety here, along with a brief introduction by Wayne himself before each piece.
Purchase your copy here.

4. La Danse – Le Ballet De L’opera De Paris
A must-buy for any ballet fan, Frederick Wiseman directs this behind-the-scenes documentary following a year in the life of the Paris Opera Ballet. Like slicing through the dolls house, this upstairs/downstairs expose answers every question you’ve ever asked about a working opera house…and more.
Purchase your copy here.

5. Ballets Russes
A moving portrait of a group of pioneering artists,  now in their 70s, 80s and 90s, who gave birth to modern ballet. And a Sundance Film Festival pick in 2005. If it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, I’ll eat my copy.
Purchase your copy here.


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