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Glimpses #10: “Bayadère,” the movie

Just when I thought I needed to go to France to see the Paris Opera Ballet in a worthy repertory beyond Giselle, the invaluable Emerging Pictures screened the company’s production of La Bayadère, in Rudolf Nureyev’s final version of the 1877 ballet by Marius Petipa.  (New Yorkers are more familiar with the Natalia Makarova treatment presented by American Ballet Theatre.)  The dancing, led by Aurélie Dupont, Josua Hoffalt, and Ludmila Pagliero—and a female corps de ballet that constitutes a star in itself—illustrated a notion of classical perfection in the Kingdom of the Shades scene and delicious local-color hokum rooted in a melodramatic vision of India.

Dupont blends her mime and her dancing so subtly, you can’t tell where one leaves off and the other begins.  Hoffalt brings no personality to his strangely weak-willed role of warrior hero, but his every step could illustrate a manual of technique.  Franca Squaciapino’s costumes, subtle and sophisticated in their palette and patterns, provide yet another ravishing attraction.

© 2012 Tobi Tobias


  1. And isn’t the character dancing fun?! I will miss the Manu solo from now on. However their golden idol can’t hold a candle to Makarova’s. I wasn’t as impressed by Dupont as you, I’ll admit. Found her too queen-like for a bayadère. But then, she’s always a bit queen-like.
    Always enjoy reading you, especially in these quiet summer days.

  2. Martha Ullman West says

    The phrase “Rudolf Nureyev’s final version” immediately conjured up the image of him on opening night, sick unto death, wrapped in gloriously lavish fabric, as over the top as the ballet itself. I hope I have the opportunity to see this film, or better still the POB perform the ballet “live and in person,” as my daughter used to say, for if ever there was a ballet that called for an impeccable corps de ballet, it is this one. Many thanks, TT, for your insight, comme toujours.

  3. costas cacaroukas says

    How lavish can you get?

    Some years back, POB’S Elizabeth Platel told me that the company’s “Bayadere” was not a very expensive production — all the fabrice was purchased in Asia and was brought to Paris by train.

  4. I would love to see that!

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