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Kirov 'Bayadere' at Kennedy Center, Jan. 2008


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#16 Cygnet

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 12:44 PM

Somova is being pushed down our collective throat by the Kirov mangement because they think she's exactly what we want and what we will pay to see.

And is this working with the ticket-buyers? I realize that some audiences crave extreme extensions, contortions, and possibly a bit of bizarre arm-waving, etc.. But even these were not done particularly well. It looked like parody. Who IS the audience for this? And how do the traditional audiences respond?

I'm sorry for my puzzlement, but I have not seen the Kirov live for quite a while, and I cannot square the images I saw in this clip from Rose Adagio with what I read about the company elsewhere (including Ballet Talk) and have observed on relatively recent dvds.

Are there two Kirovs, operating in parallel but non-connecting universes?


The traditional audiences, (i.e. Lopatkina, Obratzova, Pavlenko and Vishneva's fans), generally avoid the opera house when it's a Somova night. Her nights are usually first nights or mid-week, or weekends when the tourists buy up the most
expensive seats in 'orchestra.' The Czar's Box level and upper tier crowd, aren't as forgiving as the tourists. Also, they aren't as close as the tourists are to the line of fire.

Re: the Youtube tape, I stopped counting mistakes at #15 in the Rose Adage alone. Her "entrance" was :speechless-smiley-003:!!!!. I mean, we're not talking about technical survival here. She lacks sufficient strength in her right foot for the balances, notice the persistent wobble. She is allowed to insert the Sergeyev penchees into the 1890 notation after the first set of balances, and at the end of the final promenade. Vishneva, Obratzova, Tereshkina, Gumerova, Novikova, Dumchenko - none of them take this liberty in the Reconstruction. She hits 182 degrees with every developpe and every penchee in the Adage. Her tutu hits her tiara during the diagonal balances with the King's Violinists. Mind you, this was not her debut; this was taped in January > two years after her Los Angeles debut in Fall 2005, so there's no excuse for these egregious mistakes, or this 're-dux' of the 'script.' What really bothers me is that audiences worldwide who have never experienced the true Maryinsky/Petersburg style, will see Somova, and erroneously conclude that they've seen & experienced a legitimate exponent and purveyor of the Vaganova/Petersburg School - not so.

For those of you out there who like to live dangerously, the rest of her faux Act 1 can be viewed on Mad-About-Maryinsky and Dropshots. The variation was impossible and painful to watch: Her lack of turnout is most pronounced
here; there's nowhere for her to hide - it's on display for all to see. Picture this: After she pricks her finger, the ensemble onstage is in their proper place, as the choreography dictates. She, on the other hand, realizes that King Papa and Queen Mama are standing stage right by the wings, and she is front and center in the middle of the stage. Imagine her surprise when she raises her right hand to dad - AND HE'S NOT THERE! It dawns ( :lightbulb: ) on her that she's in the wrong spot. So, she does a very hasty, and very sloppy "grande jete" to get over to them, then she gets back into position - again (!) and proffers her hand so that his majesty can examine her "boo-boo." And through all of this Tchaikovsky soldiers on leaving her behind. Gaffes like these can't be concealed, OK?

What is the antidote for Somova? I suggest viewing any of the following: The 1983 Kolpakova/Berezhnoi, the 1989 Lezhnina/Ruzimatov, the Asylmuratova/Zaklinsky, the Sizova/Soloviev, or the Semenyaka/Fadeyechev dvds - these helped me through the withdrawals.

#17 FauxPas

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 01:12 PM

Well, I just watched the Youtube Somova "Rose Adagio" and it is about what I expected. I have never seen her dance live or on tape. She is constantly breaking up the line and distorting the steps to show off her rubbery, double-jointed, hyper-extended limbs - it's all about 6 o'clock ecartÚs with her and kicking the back of her head or tucking her leg behind her ear. This is a poor man's Zakharova as I correctly discerned.

Clearly the current management was deeply stung over the defection of Svetlana Zakharova, a pretty blonde with long hyperextended limbs. They had created her, pushed her, promoted her fast - made her into a star and what did she do? Ran out on them and joined the Bolshoi. So what do they do? They say "Well, we made you... we can make another!" So here she is, world, Alina Somova trying to outdo Zakharova. It isn't just that she is being pushed into all the leading roles too soon, her dancing is being pushed totally into the wrong direction by the management and coaches. There is clearly good physical ability and some talent there - not much artistry or musicality. But every bad habit and mannerism is being played up until she is just a mess. Now Zakharova wasn't a great Aurora either and neither was Guillem. These hyperextended girls usually do better as Giselle or in "Swan Lake" or "Don Quixote". Also girls with 180 degree extensions usually can't balance to save their lives. But the extensions seem to be all that Somova has here - the jumps aren't great, she really isn't doing true balances holding onto the Princes and the pirouettes are sloppy but have potential.

I actually feel sorry for her because she could be good if she was directed to be something other than an acrobatic act.

#18 chrisk217

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 01:40 PM

The Rose Adagio clip that left us all :speechless-smiley-003: is rated at 4 out of 5 stars. So apparently there are people out there who like that sort of thing. If you read the comments you'll find that there are a few fans so loyal that they will bully and abuse anyone who dares write a dissenting opinion.

Many of her fans must be ballet students. Extreme extension is like a fetish for them and they tend to overlook more subtle qualities. As for the general audience most people have a very vague idea of how classical ballet should look like. Kirov is a brand name and if it's the Kirov then it must be good, no? The ones who know and care, the traditional audience that you mention, are too civilized to publicly show displeasure in a dancer. Ballet audiences are too polite.

She would probably be interesting to watch in ballet moderne, Forsythe, things made on her body - individuality and weirdness can be refreshing things - but putting her in Sleeping Beauty is too much. One has to wonder what is the point of researching and presenting a production that tries to recreate the first presentation of this canon of balletic classicism when you are going to cast so unclassical a dancer as Aurora.

A sad thing is that I remember how when I was a student we watched on tv a clip of Guillem in the Grand pas classique and our perception of what was possible, desirable and aesthetically pleasing in ballet, and also what we should strive for, was changed in the space of 10 minutes. We were that impressionable. I hate to think how watching Somova might impress a young student.

(a clarification: i'm not comparing Guillem with Somova as dancers, just the effect of watching something extreme and unknown)

#19 Cygnet

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 02:03 PM

I hate to think how watching Somova might impress a young student.


I have bad news to report: It has already begun. My friend in St. Petersburg
attended "Silenzio," Vishneva's solo evening last month. She emailed me and
told me that during the intermission, Somova herself was walking around along
with the rest of the audience in the foyer. A little girl, that my friend recognized
as a second year student, was standing next to my friend, holding her mother's hand.
The child spotted Somova, as if this were a star sighting, and excitedly
whispered to her mother, " . . . That's Somova, the lady with blonde hair!"
If the youngsters at the Academy revere her, that doesn't bode well for
the future.

#20 kfw

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 04:35 PM

The Rose Adagio clip that left us all :speechless-smiley-003: is rated at 4 out of 5 stars. So apparently there are people out there who like that sort of thing.

That doesn't surprise me. What surprises and puzzles me is how coaches born and bred to the Kirov style could countenance deviations so extreme as to be heretical. Does growing up on good taste not breed at least a modicum of good taste? Apparently not. The Kirov style isn't taught and viewed in a cultural vacuum.

#21 ngitanjali

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 04:49 PM

I'm very surprised too about the student training, considering how tasteful Altynai Asylmuratova always was...and she is the head of the Vaganova Academy!

However, I am completely ignorant on these matters, was Somova always so..."Rose Adaigo" like? Or did she possess a modicum of taste when she graduated? BTW: Somova's coach, Tchenchikova, correct? She was rather...lovely in her extensions, here is another surprise.

I'm not at all excited about seeing Somova in anything other than Forsythe. We used to complain about Zakharova's extensions, but...this is too much, no?

#22 canbelto

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 07:19 PM

I think there has to be a strong distinction made between Zakharova, a dancer I'm not too fond of, and Somova. Zakharova is not to my tastes because I find her rather cold. But she's a real dancer, and, in the right roles, can be very impressive, even if she'll never be a favorite.

The Somova I've seen from YouTube makes me think she shouldn't even be in the corps de ballet. The way her legs flop wildly, without any muscular control, her absolute lack of any elevation, and, most of all, her totally charmless stage persona, make her Rose Adagio just an absolute :speechless-smiley-003: nightmare. Then there's the smaller details, like how she can never seem to figure out whether to keep her legs bent or straight, the frantic way she grabs onto the princes' hands, her port-te-bras (or lack thereof), are just yuck yuck yuck. Her hands always seem like they are reaching for her feet.

#23 bart

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Posted 01 November 2007 - 07:33 PM

I'm with those who think the problem is way beyond hyper-extension (though that 190-degree split in the air early in the clip did make me blink). Every appendage seems to be out of control at one point or other. The early port de bras looks like something Edward Gorey might have concocted in order to satirize an imitator of an imitator of Balanchine.

Cygnet, that description of Somova missing her mark (and her father), adding some choreography to shift her position, and getting out of sync with the score is brilliant! :speechless-smiley-003:

#24 chrisk217

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 05:12 AM

I'm with those who think the problem is way beyond hyper-extension

I don't think anyone complains about the hyperextension per se. Polina Semionova also has crazy hyperextension but she has everything under control. I've never heard anyone complain in such a way about her.

Somova must have had some good qualities to begin with - I seem to remember she won a medal in a well known competition some years ago (not sure when/where) and I can't imagine she was flapping and flopping around in this manner back then. Perhaps now she is overindulged :dunno:

Ultimately, she has a right to dance however she pleases and the audiences will judge her accordingly. We can only hope she wont "inspire" others with her example.

Hate to disillusion you, but in all probability almost all the complimentary comments and accompanying hate postings are from the same person using different aliases.

Mashinka thanks for the background info. I had no idea about all that. I'm very naive. Still, more than 6000 users viewed the clip and judging from the rating only a handful were sufficiently disturbed to click and rate it as low as possible.

Regarding the youtube comments you're right, I tried to stop looking at them when I came across someone who wrote "Ewww disgusting!" about Kolpakova whom I revere. But it's a perverse compulsion, I always wonder what people are saying and end up looking.

#25 aurora

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Posted 02 November 2007 - 07:59 AM

I'm very surprised too about the student training, considering how tasteful Altynai Asylmuratova always was...and she is the head of the Vaganova Academy!

However, I am completely ignorant on these matters, was Somova always so..."Rose Adaigo" like? Or did she possess a modicum of taste when she graduated?


I think you can find her graduation performance up on youtube. At least it was there a few weeks ago. I'd say it was pretty much the same.

#26 ngitanjali

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Posted 05 November 2007 - 02:24 PM

I think there has to be a strong distinction made between Zakharova, a dancer I'm not too fond of, and Somova. Zakharova is not to my tastes because I find her rather cold. But she's a real dancer, and, in the right roles, can be very impressive, even if she'll never be a favorite.

The Somova I've seen from YouTube makes me think she shouldn't even be in the corps de ballet. The way her legs flop wildly, without any muscular control, her absolute lack of any elevation, and, most of all, her totally charmless stage persona, make her Rose Adagio just an absolute :blush: nightmare. Then there's the smaller details, like how she can never seem to figure out whether to keep her legs bent or straight, the frantic way she grabs onto the princes' hands, her port-te-bras (or lack thereof), are just yuck yuck yuck. Her hands always seem like they are reaching for her feet.





Knowing what we all feel about Somova (I thought I was the only one that didn't like her, based on what people around me were saying. I'm so glad that others here do have good taste!!!!), I have a question. I'm not familiar, at all, with the Mariinsky ballet save what I have seen of Asylmuratova, Lopatkina, etc...but, let's go back to a time when Asylmuratova, Makhalina, or Lezhina were the main ballerinas (!!!!), would Somova have even been allowed into the corps de ballet, or would she have fit in?

(I still have issues with teh acrylic nails. I didn't even wear those for my high school prom, since I thought they'd be tasteless with my dress, and Prom is the most glorified, over the top bonanza in the US. I'm not sure where fake nails fit into Bayadere, or the Corsaire, but I don't know...perhaps Ancient India had yet to be discovered secrets...)

#27 Cygnet

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 10:10 AM

[quote]name='ngitanjali' date='Nov 5 2007, 10:24 PM' post='215431']
. . . I have a question. I'm not familiar, at all, with the Mariinsky ballet save what I have seen of Asylmuratova, Lopatkina, etc... would Somova have even been allowed into the corps de ballet, or would she have fit in?[/quote]

Hi ngitanjali. The Maryinsky of say 1992, is totally different from the Maryinsky of 2007.
Personally, I doubt that Somova would have been accepted into the Kirov during the Soviet era.
She most likely would've been counselled to go to a folk dance troupe or the circus.
She got into the Vaganova Academy and passed all of the exams. She did what she needed
to do to get in. However, it seems she's thrown everything she (supposedly)
learned out the window, in favor of her own personal "style," which is not classical
ballet.

[quote](I still have issues with teh acrylic nails. I didn't even wear those for my high school prom, since I thought they'd be tasteless with my dress, and Prom is the most glorified, over the top bonanza in the US. I'm not sure where fake nails fit into Bayadere, or the Corsaire, but I don't know...perhaps Ancient India had yet to be discovered secrets...)[/quote]

Her nails are a dangerous hazard that apparently hasn't been, (and won't)
be addressed. Once she was asked about the length of her nails, and she shrugged it
off with indifference, saying that they were apart of her costumes. I perceive
that she wouldn't have dared say this without the full weight of the management
behind her.

[quote]. . . but, let's go back to a time when Asylmuratova, Makhalina, or Lezhina were the main ballerinas (!!!!)[/quote]

When these ladies were dancing, Oleg Vinogradov was the Artistic Director. When Makhar Vaziev assumed
power, his agenda and tastes replaced the outgoing AD's agenda and tastes. This happens everywhere.
Today, we see the results of this change in direction. The fact that someone like Somova could be accepted, and worse, promoted, reflects the leadership's agenda, tastes and values. Somova is being "touted" as the prototype of 'the new Russian ballerina' - someone who is 'advancing' (:blush: ? :excl: ) and, pardon the pun, 'extending the classical canon' (:blink:) :cool:.

As for your other question, ballerinas such as Lopatkina, Vishneva, Ayupova, Pavlenko,
Tarasova and Dumchenko, are representatives of the true Vaganova/Petersburg school, the
embodiment of classical purity and artistry. Of Somova's generation, (Classes of 2002 - 2004),
the young soloists who are trying to uphold this tradition are Olesya Novikova, Tatyana Tkachenko,
Yevgenya Obratzova, Victoria Tereshkina and Ekaterina Osmolkina. Of these, IMO Zhenya Obratzova
and Tatyana Tkachenko are the purest and most polished of this group. Classical purity and artistry
aren't in vogue right now; Somova is.

I pray that Lopatkina, Tereshkina and Vishneva stay healthy - especially for New York next April.
Keep this in mind: If one of them doesn't, the title role in Raymonda Act 3 will be a "go" for A. Somova.

#28 Waelsung

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 12:26 PM

The casting has been posted to the Kennedy Center website:

CASTING
Tue., Jan. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Nikiya: Diana Vishneva
Solor: Andrian Fadeyev
Gamzatti: Viktoria Tereshkina

Wed., Jan. 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Nikiya: Uliana Lopatkina
Solor: Ivan Kozlov
Gamzatti: Tatyana Tkachenko

Thu., Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m.
Nikiya: Irma Nioradze
Solor: Andrian Fadeyev
Gamzatti: Irina Golub

Fri., Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
Nikiya: Alina Somova
Solor: Leonid Sarafanov
Gamzatti: Ekaterina Osmolkina

Sat., Jan. 26 at 1:30 p.m.
Nikiya: Uliana Lopatkina
Solor: Ivan Kozlov
Gamzatti: Tatyana Tkachenko

Sat., Jan. 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Nikiya: Viktoria Tereshkina
Solor: Anton Korsakov
Gamzatti: Irina Golub

Sun., Jan. 27 at 1:30 p.m.
Nikiya: Alina Somova
Solor: Leonid Sarafanov
Gamzatti: Ekaterina Osmolkina

It looks like I'm going to miss Tereshkina's Nikiya, but otherwise I'm quite happy - couldn't ask for more really.

#29 Ceeszi

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Posted 06 November 2007 - 06:36 PM

Diana Vishneva has confirmed on her website that she's planning to dance Nikiya with the Kirov in Washington D.C. on Jan. 22.




:( :jawdrop: :jawdrop: :yahoo:


You just made my day. I bought tickets for this not knowing the casting. I LOVE Diana. I saw her as Nikiya back in May at ABT. I can't wait to see her in DC in January!

#30 naomikage

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Posted 11 November 2007 - 09:00 PM

. . . but, let's go back to a time when Asylmuratova, Makhalina, or Lezhina were the main ballerinas (!!!!)


When these ladies were dancing, Oleg Vinogradov was the Artistic Director. When Makhar Vaziev assumed
power, his agenda and tastes replaced the outgoing AD's agenda and tastes. This happens everywhere.
Today, we see the results of this change in direction. The fact that someone like Somova could be accepted, and worse, promoted, reflects the leadership's agenda, tastes and values. Somova is being "touted" as the prototype of 'the new Russian ballerina' - someone who is 'advancing' (:yahoo: ? :bow: ) and, pardon the pun, 'extending the classical canon' (:bow:) :bow:.


I am a member in Japan and recently an interesting documentary film was released in DVD and in theatres.
It was filmed by a French director and entitled Ballerina.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0898897/

It is a documentary about Kirov ballet and features two ballerinas; Evguenya Obraztsova and Alina Somova. Also it contains some footage and interviews of Lopatkina, Vishneva and Zakharova. But the main topic is the coming generation of new ballerinas in Kirov, represented by Somova (and Obraztsova).
The film begins with the graduation performance of Waganova academy, and Somova performs Paquita.
The artistic director Vaziev likes Somova a lot and she was invited to dance in the Kirov, with the director's wife to be her coach. Somova was said to be the new star of Kirov, She was the only newcomer to join the US tour, and at a very early stage she was dancing Odette/Odile. The film show some of the scenes that Somova being coached. At that time Somova was brunette. Asylmuratova and Manuel Legris from POB appears to comment about the Kirov way.

Apart from the fact that Somova was featured the most in the film, this contains very good footage such as R&J and Legend of Love by Obraztsova, Sheherazade and Legend of Love, Jewels by Lopatkina and Manon rehearsal by Vishneva and Legris and Kolb. I think this DVD will be released worldwide to promote Somova as the new star.


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