In this 54-minute DVD, Bolshoi-trained Roudnev leads his 12-year-old student Maggie through barre, center, and pointe work. As a set of exercises, the class is quite well constructed, but is offset by the DVD’s home-video production quality. Each exercise is demonstrated and explained by Roudnev, then demonstrated by Maggie with music from volume 11 of Roudnev’s Ballet Class music CD series.
Roudnev’s student demonstrates strengths consistent with classical Bolshoi-style training: a solid back and strong, straight legs: extremely deep demi-plie, and well-coordinated jump. Troublingly, however, he encourages the placement of the feet in 180-degree turnout whether or not the hips allow it. Similarly, the position of the leg a la seconde points directly side of the body, whether or not the hips permit the leg to open so far. For a body that possesses full rotation, such a stance is logical. In today’s democratic training landscape, however, where not every student’s body is “ideal”, the practice of developing turnout from the feet up seems questionable at best.
Roudnev’s method of developing pointe work features the practice of jumping off pointe without rolling through the feet for beginners. Here again we see in Maggie strong, straight legs and ankles (Roudnev reveals it’s only her fourth pointe lesson), but a lack of refinement in the use of the feet.
Roudnev’s class construction for the beginner lesson is sensible and thorough. His teaching manner is both nurturing and demanding. As a study tool for teachers, this disc is a look into Dmitri Roudnev’s method. Like any syllabus, teacher, or teaching tool, it has both value and limitations—aspects that are effective, and aspects less so. Ballet Class with Dmitri Roudnev: Beginning/Intermediate Level is available on Amazon.com and on Roudnev’s website, BalletMethod.com.