Lately I've been wondering how the Russians ever gained the reputation for superior dancing. Because frankly, my dears, I just don't see it. What I see are overly precious poseurs, who are too tall and too thin dancing at funereal tempos. But the way everyone worships Russian Classicism I've begun to question my sanity.
Then I saw this version of Pas de Quatre 1968 and I can say YES! This is dancing at its most sublime. The quickness, the sylph like ballon and all at tempo! Russian ballet at its best and finest. I wish I could still pay to see artists of this caliber.
So what happened?
Because take a look at the degradation in action via the 1982 filmed version.
Why so slow? Where is the lift? What is with all the posing?
Now I love Galina Mezentseva, but I can see her tallness ruined the integrity of this ballet. She wasn't quick enough for it. The shape of the choreography is deformed as it is slowed down to accommodate her long, long limbs. Its dancing akin to that scene in Star Wars of the long, long ship taking forever to leave the screen. This isn't sylph or fairy like, this is like zombie voodoo.
And now today, 2008 Bolshoi, the women just move from pose to pose.
Why even play the music at all?
Now that I can visually see the decline, I know I'm not insane. It is here as proof for all to see that Russian ballet has strayed far, far from its best.