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Interesting and a delight for fans of ballet, though there could have more about the man himself
While it is not perfect, I am a Dancer is interesting and informative with a good deal to like for ballet fans. Those however who want more biographical detail on Rudolf Nureyev will find themselves short-changed.
This is because with the documentary aspects there was a lot of information on ballet itself and the techniques and demands, and they are very informative to dancers and non-dancers alike, but we could have learnt more about Nureyev himself, a few rehearsal sequences, a lecture delivered distinguishably by Bryan Forbes over preparation for Field Pieces, a few not-so-revealing dressing room interviews and a wonderful end sequence that saw his personality didn't seem quite enough. Coming off best was when the iconic partnership of Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn was discussed.
As somebody who really likes Pierre Jourdan's operatic staging's for obscure French opera performed by Théâtre Impérial De Compiègne , his camera work disappointed here, there should have been more intimacy , less close ups and reaction shots that took away from the action and more full shots of Nureyev. While the narration is interesting and well-delivered, it did feel over-narrated at times, in scenes that could have done with more show and less tell/talk.
Despite my problems with I am a Dancer, there was much to enjoy. There are some beautiful costumes and sets and atmospheric lighting. The music is magnificent throughout, even if the Tetley is an acquired taste, and performed stylishly, powerfully and poetically by the orchestra and is authoritatively and sympathetically conducted. The choreography is exquisite, especially in La Sylphide (the highlight of I am a Dancer to me). Marguerite and Armand on the other hand had a little too much melodramatic posturing for my tastes, though it is performed well. The Pas De Deux from Sleeping Beauty is beautifully done too.
While there is not enough of his personal life, Nureyev's talents as one of the greatest dancers who ever lived are on full display here, his dancing is graceful and powerfully masculine but also he is always expressive and never looks wooden (there is even a bit of eroticism in the modern piece). He is wonderfully partnered by Margot Fonteyn (the supreme ballet partnership), Lynn Seymour and Carla Fracchi. Deanne Bergsma comes off least, but is still great, just that the other three made more of an impression on me and the music in their segments appeal more.
In conclusion, interesting and with lots to admire but while I don't share the avid dislike that Roger Ebert has for I am a Dancer I do understand where he's coming from. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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