kirovboy

Alina Somova

217 posts in this topic

The Mariinsky has done so, even recently, although it is usually a demotion from 1st or 2nd Soloist to Choryphee, e.g., Vasily Scherbakov (the Prince's servant, in the DC Giselle's last week), Xenia Ostraikovskyaya (in the corps of Giselle in DC), and Yulia Bolshakova - the latter now departed). Recently, there was even a demotion from Soloist to Corps (Nikolai Zubkovsky, the grandson of Inna Zubkovskaya).

Scherbakov's treatment is heart breaking, one of the finest male dancers the company has produced in the past couple of decades and almost totally ignored. I was under the impression that Zubkovsky no longer dances (can anyone confirm that?) but there is always confusion on the Kirov web site as to just who is and who isn't a company member, I was confused as to the status of Ayupova for some time before the confirmation that she had left.

I would like to point out that both Osmolkina and Obrastzova are not officially principals even though they have both danced leading roles for some years, when you consider that both are longer serving company members than Somova her early promotion becomes completely inexplicable. Osmolkina and Obrastzova are in demand as guests around the world whereas apart from former Eastern Block countries and her former mentor’s new fiefdom in Milan, Somova is not. So what’s going on here?

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I was under the impression that Zubkovsky no longer dances (can anyone confirm that?)

Kolia Zubkhovsky is off the roster.

I was confused as to the status of Ayupova for some time before the confirmation that she had left.

Ayupova is coaching at the Mikhailovsky.

I would like to point out that both Osmolkina and Obrastzova are not officially principals even though they have both danced leading roles for some years,

Since her graduation in 1999, Osmolkina has accumulated +40 leading and supporting roles in the Mariinsky repertory. This also includes Balanchine, Forsythe and Ratmansky’s works. Since Obrastzova graduated in 2002, she has about 30 roles likewise including Balanchine, Forsythe and Ratmansky. In Obrastzova’s case this number doesn’t include her "off site" repertoire and guest appearances. She’ll be adding Gulnara in “Corsaire” making her debut on March 27. Her debut as O/O is coming up in April but not at HQ. To date, Osmolkina has danced O/O at HQ once – her debut a few years ago. The two follow-up performances after that debut happened at Covent Garden, not HQ.

They have received many awards and accolades, the greatest honors between them being: The 2005 IBC Gold Medal, the 1st Prize Vaganova Prix, Honored Artist of Russia, one Golden Mask, being pronounced “The Spirit of Dance (Star)” by Russia’s Ballet Magazine, one Benois nomination, and a Golden Sophit (think St. Petersburg’s answer to the Tony Awards). The majority of the awards above, except for the Honored Artist and the Golden Sophit, belong to Obrastzova, and they are just a few of her honors. As far as international and Petersburg critical acclaim is concerned, Obrastzova bests Osmolkina in both quantity and quality of eloquence, reason being is that Katya is rarely cast and rarely tours. As prodigiously gifted as she is, if Obrastzova wasn't proactive - making lemonade out of lemons she'd be sitting on The Blue Bench like Osmolkina and other talented soloists languishing in Somova's wake. Somova's career to date has been weighed in the balances. Whether it's been found wanting or not depends on the individual spectator. There are three camps: Camp can't get enough of her, Camp had enough of her, and Camp everything in between. If you want to see ballet scribbling outside the lines, she's your Prima. If you have seen her on a number of occaisions in different ballets and settings and want to continue to do so until she retires and reserve judgement until 2027, that's okay too. If you don't want to see that, do what I learned (the hard way), to do and avoid her performances.

What’s going on?

Fateev and his illustrious predecessor didn't and don't think, that Osmolkina, Obrastzova, Kondaurova, Novikova and others of their caliber are as good as they think Somova is. That's basically it.

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Greenwich Time reviews Alina Somova's performance as Tsar Maiden in Rotmansky's "The Little Humpbacked Horse":

Mariinsky Ballet loosens up in appealing NY run

I, too, thought she was lovely in that ballet...and, in particular, captured just the right tone.

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Tsar Maiden in Rotmansky's "The Little Humpbacked Horse":

Is that a typo or a view of Ratmansky's choreography?

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Apologies. It is Ratmansky, of course. Not “Rot” and certainly not “rotten”. But to be completely honest, I do not favor his ballets, Karenina being the worst of the bunch. Call it a freudian slip :))

On the other hand I enjoyed Alonso’s concise choreography of Carmen quite a bit.

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Greenwich Time reviews Alina Somova's performance as Tsar Maiden in Rotmansky's "The Little Humpbacked Horse":

Mariinsky Ballet loosens up in appealing NY run

I will try to not go too much off topic, unfortunately the writer didn't attend Tuesday evening or Wednesday matinee. THere might have been a different article and definition (which is widely discussed on the Mariinsky thread of this forum discussing the company's residency at the Met in July 2011).

Since i attended all performances and seen Somova (dancing in person) through a number of years, i should say that her style became softer in years, and more tamed. But her musical phrasing is almost always off, and occasionally the edginess and "non-vaganova" lines pearsed through in July. She's as cute and pretty as a woman can be - that i give her...

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I also saw all three "Humpbacked Horse" performances.

Certainly Somova was a picture perfect Tsar Maiden with her mischievously sleek pert good looks and long blonde locks (she sprayed her light brown hair gold and wore a blonde braid). Also her personality is well-suited to comedy and her uneven technique is less evident in modern choreography. So this was about the best I have seen her. However, she did stumble a bit in a turn and also did that weird jeté with the legs lifted too high. So instead of the legs making a straight line, it is a vaulting "V" shape. Otherwise she scaled back the 180 degree extensions and was trying to stitch the steps together to create a semblance of line. I think we can credit these positive developments to the hand of Terekhova, her new coach.

Batsuchan who I spoke with during intermission has studied ballet for years. She was seeing Somova for the first time. She was horrified. (I invite Batsuchan to correct my quotation and add her own comments) Batsuchan felt that as an actress Somova did too much fake smiling no matter what the dramatic situation. (Didn't bother me). Also, Batsuchan felt that due to Somova's overly flexible limbs she basically throws her legs up into positions without engaging the whole body to give them line and physical definition. No control and the connecting steps are messy. Batsuchan also had problems with Somova's turnout. NYSusan then told her that this was the "good" Somova in a role that really suited her well. Batsuchan didn't even dare to look at the Youtube clips of the old "bad" Somova.

In direct comparison with Viktoria Tereshkina who also danced the First Movement in "Symphony in C" as well as the opening night "Humpbacked Horse", Somova definitely came off second best. Tereshkina had stronger more consistent technique throughout. Tereshkina was not only more musical but connected the steps to the music and to each other so that they created exciting patterns. Also Tereshkina has better coordination of the lower body with the upper body. Somova who has a remarkable physical endowment and flexibility, is a dancer of individual effects or even individual steps. I think that Somova has improved as a dancer and technician but will never be a great artist - particularly in the big classical ballets.

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Somova who has a remarkable physical endowment and flexibility, is a dancer of individual effects or even individual steps. I think that Somova has improved as a dancer and technician but will never be a great artist - particularly in the big classical ballets.

Having watched Somova's breathtaking Nikiya live, I find her to be a powerful classical dancer. But Bessmertnova, no she is not. May be some day...

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Here she is with Shklyarov (Warning: saccharine alert)

This is the scene where they first meet

And with Sarafanov - this is the finale

The first meeting scene from the 1961 film:

Plisetskaya and Vasiliev - choreography by Alexander Radunsky

http://youtu.be/KCgglRKjzbI

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I didn't see Somova's live, but from the clips, it looks like her feet are a little stronger since the last time I saw her, but her hands were very distracting. What both Tereshkina and Obratztsova had (live) that Somova shows little of in the clips is a sense of the musical and dance line: there's not much connecting between the steps and mini-phrases, which are more like text-speak than sung lines.

Plitsetskaya is such a beautiful woman...

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I didn't see Somova's live, but from the clips, it looks like her feet are a little stronger since the last time I saw her, but her hands were very distracting.

Personally I would not recommend to anyone to go see a dancer who does appeal to you. Mariinsky has wide spectrum of performers to satisfy just about every taste.

What both Tereshkina and Obratztsova had (live) that Somova shows little of in the clips is a sense of the musical and dance line: there's not much connecting between the steps and mini-phrases, which are more like text-speak than sung lines.

I would like to draw my own comparisons. Obraztsova is certainly musical and graceful the way only petite dancers tend to be. But to me she can be boring. Evgenia remains her charming self whether she portrays tragic Giselle or happy Aurora. Somova is infinitely more versatile. One can never predict which side of her artistic self she is going to reveal in a particular performance. Tereshkina possesses perfect technique, but not perfect pitch. Moreover, she doesn’t touch my heart the way Obraztsova and Somova do, each in her own special way. But like yourself, I cannot help but to admire Tereshkina's polished, even chiseled, if I may say so, dancing. I wouldn’t go so far as to call Victoria an ultimate Petipa ballerina, but she comes darn close to being one. In any case, I would much prefer any one of the three young Graces to Diana Vishneva, whose fame nowadays far exceeds the quality of her dancing.

...there's not much connecting between the steps and mini-phrases, which are more like text-speak than sung lines

Matter of style, although I appreciate the fact that some folks consider that style to be two-dimensional. There are dancers of a step and dancers of a line. Alina is a dancer of a line and air.

Comparing performers always provokes heated debates. Perhaps it is not so bad. After all, is it not Art’s purpose to penetrate the deep recesses of our heart, touch our inmost feelings and invoke strong emotions?

.

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One can never predict which side of her artistic self she is going to reveal in a particular performance.

I think that uncertainty comes more from being unable to predict whether she'll make it through to the end of a performance without completely screwing up, mildly screwing up and how many nails she's going to hammer into Petipa's coffin this time around. Though in one area of artistry Somova excels above all others, Le Ballet de Funky Chicken.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call Victoria an ultimate Petipa ballerina, but she comes darn close to being one.

What's a Petipa ballerina? If you're talking about a classical ballerina, good turnout, good use of feet, restrained extension in the classical form - then on all those levels Somova is a non starter.

There are dancers of a step and dancers of a line. Alina is a dancer of a line and air.

Somova has no line, that's part of her problem although she's as flexible as they come she simply can't nor won't make a harmonious classical line, the legs go up to Newcastle and back like no one's business, but because she distorts her trunk and refuses to use what turnout she has all you get are legs at strange angles. Also she has a very weak jump so how she's supposed to be a dancer of "air" is a point for debate.

After all, is it not Art’s purpose to penetrate the deep recesses of our heart, touch our inmost feelings and invoke strong emotions?

Somova certainly evokes strong emotions, revulsion, dismay, calumny and despair being cheif among them.

I'm sorry if this seems snide, you like Somova, that's cool and great for you, but to make any kind of case for Somova as a great ballerina or classicist is a non starter. Also it's interesting to note just how much the artisitc directorship of the Mariinksy is responding to the criticism of her and cooling their relationship in casting. In the Mariinsky season at the ROH this & next month, in a four week season of 25 performances Somova is only dancing four times. Third cast Swan Lake, matinee third cast Bayadere and once in two triple bills both second/third casts. She's dancing Ballet Imperial which might be amusing to watch just to see how she gets Balanchine so wrong, I predict a windmill of legs, falling off point and her trademark spastic limbs. But truthfully, if she really was the Mariinsky's great hope and supreme exponent, don't you think they'd have given her more of a prominent role in a major tour?

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I'm sorry if this seems snide, you like Somova, that's cool and great for you, but to make any kind of case for Somova as a great ballerina or classicist is a non starter. Also it's interesting to note just how much the artisitc directorship of the Mariinksy is responding to the criticism of her and cooling their relationship in casting. In the Mariinsky season at the ROH this & next month, in a four week season of 25 performances Somova is only dancing four times.

I don’t believe in skewing casting in favor of any one dancer. In fact a new battalion of Mariinsky graces are now waiting in the wings and it won’t be long before the same passionate debates (at least I hope) would be raging around them. No dancer, no matter how great, should dominate the repertoire.

Don't go to see Somova if you do not understand her style. Attend performances with dancers that you happen to like. Ars longa, vita brevis.

PS. “snide” as you put it is OK, even if it smacks of self-righteousness. In fact it is the shining example of that strong emotion that sizzles inside you. I can only hope that someone who reads your… evaluation of Somova and happens to adore her, might not be tempted to do the same, i.e. evaluate a dancer that you like and/or admire in a similar fashion.

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Though in one area of artistry Somova excels above all others, Le Ballet de Funky Chicken.

:rofl::rofl::rofl:

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I don’t believe in skewing casting in favor of any one dancer. In fact a new battalion of Mariinsky graces are now waiting in the wings and it won’t be long before the same passionate debates (at least I hope) would be raging around them. No dancer, no matter how great, should dominate the repertoire.

Don't go to see Somova if you do not understand her style. Attend performances with dancers that you happen to like. Ars longa, vita brevis.

PS. “snide” as you put it is OK, even if it smacks of self-righteousness. In fact it is the shining example of that strong emotion that sizzles inside you. I can only hope that someone who reads your… evaluation of Somova and happens to adore her, might not be tempted to do the same, i.e. evaluate a dancer that you like and/or admire in a similar fashion.

But that's just it, it's not a question of "skewing" casting if anything the casting has been skewed in favour of the 40-something veteran Lopatkina. Somova is the youngest principal at the Mariinksy, and let's not forget incredible dancers like Obratsova are still only first soloists and yet she's been given precendence in all castint not only in London but at home too over Somova.

The Mariinsky have done as much as they can to bury Somova within the rep. She's only performing four times and only twice in full lengths, and one of those is buried in the matinee. A great dancer will dominate a repertoire no matter where they're placed because of their greatness, Osipova was launched on the world stage as a star in London while she was still a soloist from a single matinee performance of Don Q. Somova is no Osipova.

I have been far kinder to Somova than many here, she has improved, she has cut out a great deal of the bad habits and she does at least strain for some level of cantilena but she's not a classical ballerina and yet she's a principal in the greatest classical ballet company in the world and the increasing dissatisfaction with her from within the company is being reflected by what she's performing, how often and where.

I know you were referring to Terekshina as a classicist but that's the problem with Somova she isn't a classicist and she struggles with the classical style. There's a really sad video of her in Sleeping Beauty the entrance and rose adagio - the rose adagio is just an unwholly mess, but the real tragic part is the petit allegro entrance which takes absolute precision, fluidity of movement, an ability to handle terre a terre work be musical, fast, fluid and precise. In those two short minutes every single weakness in Somova was cruelly ruthlessly exposed. Petipa absolutely kicked her butt.

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What I am struggling to understand, Simon G. is why you and the like minded people happen to express yourself in the thread of a dancer you don't champion? Wouldn’t it be better for one’s health and enjoyment of life to express oneself in the thread of a dancer that your crowd wants to advance?? Aren't lovers more preferable than haters???

Perhaps you like to trash the beloved by many Somova just for the sake of trashing? Well, I don’t think it works. There is an unwritten rule of fair play and deep-rooted tendency with most Americans to cheer for the underdog. So you see, your “sophisticated” opinion expressed in the thread might be all for nothing.

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What I am struggling to understand, Simon G. is why you and the like minded people happen to express yourself in the thread of a dancer you don't champion? Wouldn’t it be better for one’s health and enjoyment of life to express oneself in the thread of a dancer that your crowd wants to advance?? Aren't lovers more preferable than haters???

Perhaps you like to trash the beloved by many Somova just for the sake of trashing? Well, I don’t think it works. There is an unwritten rule of fair play and deep-rooted tendency with most Americans to cheer for the underdog. So you see, your “sophisticated” opinion expressed in the thread might be all for nothing.

I'm not trashing, I'm merely stating what a great many feel about the "beloved" Somova, who let's face it if she were half as beloved as you'd have us believe would be dancing a hell of a lot more and would actually have something of an international career fitting of a principal with the Mariinsky.

The majority of the posters on these boards are American and you'll be hard pressed to find a single one championing her, nor is it a question of having a "crowd" the simple fact is that Somova is not a great dancer, her promotion was mystifying and her classical technique is very very poor. Statements of fact backed up by her diminishing career and the attempts and concerted efforst by the Mariinsky directorship to bury her almost without trace within the casting.

These are discussion boards and you'll find the majority of posts on this thread are negative about Somova, in fact all except yours, I in fact did make a post applauding her improvement, but boards are there to discuss both the good and bad, if you want to just wax lyrical about how wonderful she is there are, I'm sure, boards out there which are exclusively devoted to fans and perhaps you'd be happier there.

I don't like Somova, she's not a great dancer, I don't think anyone else here likes Somova, it would also appear given her schedule her bosses don't much like the way she dances either. That's all this is about.

And since when did a principal get classed as an "underdog"?

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These are discussion boards and you'll find the majority of posts on this thread are negative about Somova, in fact all except your ...

Oh, that makes me proud. Proud of being able to uphold my very own and heart-felt opinion in spite of the majority or rather a vocal minority. Alina Somova is the Principal of the greatest classical company in the world (author’s opinion) and nothing, but absolutely nothing can change this. She is not Bessmertnova. Not yet. One day!

I will give you one, Simon, – the Principal is underdog no longer.

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Personally I would not recommend to anyone to go see a dancer who does appeal to you. Mariinsky has wide spectrum of performers to satisfy just about every taste.

Had I still been in NYC I would have gone to that performance: for one, it's not like she was dancing a solo like Bejart's Bolero or Balanchine's "Sonatine" or even being the raison d'etre of the ballet, like Aurora, but there are many important roles in "Little Humpbacked Horse", secondly, I particularly loved Petushkova as the other female lead along with many other of the male dancers and would have been interested in seeing alternate casts for the men's roles, and finally, the ballet itself is so fantastic, it would be worth seeing with anyone in the company.

She's dancing Ballet Imperial which might be amusing to watch just to see how she gets Balanchine so wrong, I predict a windmill of legs, falling off point and her trademark spastic limbs. But truthfully, if she really was the Mariinsky's great hope and supreme exponent, don't you think they'd have given her more of a prominent role in a major tour?

I saw the Balanchine programs that the Mariinsky brought to City Center a few years ago, and, frankly, I think very few dancers in the company danced Balanchine well. Somova had some very lovely moments in "Ballet Imperial", most of them in the second movement adagio.

What I am struggling to understand, Simon G. is why you and the like minded people happen to express yourself in the thread of a dancer you don't champion? Wouldn’t it be better for one’s health and enjoyment of life to express oneself in the thread of a dancer that your crowd wants to advance?? Aren't lovers more preferable than haters???

We are a discussion board, not a fan board, and threads on dancers are to discuss the dancers, pro and con. The only place taste comes into the picture is when there is a congratulations thread that turns highly critical, and even then, if the promotion is controversial, it is fine to discuss.

The majority of the posters on these boards are American and you'll be hard pressed to find a single one championing her, nor is it a question of having a "crowd" the simple fact is that Somova is not a great dancer, her promotion was mystifying and her classical technique is very very poor. Statements of fact backed up by her diminishing career and the attempts and concerted efforst by the Mariinsky directorship to bury her almost without trace within the casting.

While that covers the majority opinion, it is not the only one on this board; in fact, rather recently, a number of posters came out to say that they liked Somova's dancing and/or have reviewed her favorably in the mainstream press.

An Admin note: please keep the discussion on Somova, not each other. Discussing motivation is discussing the discussion, and is off limits.

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Oh, that makes me proud. Proud of being able to uphold my very own and heart-felt opinion in spite of the majority or rather a vocal minority. Alina Somova is the Principal of the greatest classical company in the world (author’s opinion) and nothing, but absolutely nothing can change this. She is not Bessmertnova. Not yet. One day!

I will give you one, Simon, – the Principal is underdog no longer.

She's A principal of a ballet company which is using her less and less and hardly allowing her to dance at all. She has no international career to speak of and you say nothing will change this? Well it takes very little effort to change it, you simply don't cast the dancer at all till they either leave or fester or in the case of Mariinsky with certain dancers you get demoted or fired.

May I ask what's this sudden obsession with Bessmertnova? Who stopped dancing over twenty years ago and who you've never seen dance? Moreover Bessmertnova was a Bolshoi ballerina not Mariinsky (then Kirov). I would have thought given your devotion to the Mariinsky the greatest classical ballet company in the world you'd have championed Dudinskaya, Shelast, Osipenko, Makarova, Kolpakova, Assylmuratova, Kurgapkina etc if you wanted to list Somova's potential greatness amongst the great of Soviet era Kirov ballerinas. Though to be honest unless she gets to dance a bit more there's not really that much chance of that happening.

As to a vocal majority championing Somova, certainly not within the Mariisnky, nor in the critics both home and abroad - hence her only dancing third cast twice in the great classics in London. This is one home girl the home team aren't pushing home or away.

To be fair though Helene is right, they dance Balanchine pretty badly througout the Mariinsky, it's not just a Somova thing.

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We are a discussion board, not a fan board, and threads on dancers are to discuss the dancers, pro and con. The only place taste comes into the picture is when there is a congratulations thread that turns highly critical, and even then, if the promotion is controversial, it is fine to discuss.

Helene, I want to thank you for this most valuable information. While visiting dancers’ threads, I tend to be reluctant to express an opinion unless it is a positive one, at least for the most part. Now I know that it is OK to express an alternate opinion about dancers who are not as well known, or as frequently discussed as Alina Somova.

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May I ask what's this sudden obsession with Bessmertnova? Who stopped dancing over twenty years ago and who you've never seen dance?

Ohhhh, Bessmertnova!!!! No, I haven’t seen her dancing live. But what I‘ve seen on video and DVD made me believe that it is Natalia B. who is the greatest dancer of the 20th Century. You might ask “what about Pavlova or Spessivtseva?” Unfortunately there isn’t much film about them that survived the cataclysms of history. On the other hand films about Bessmernova exist and they effect me on many levels, emotional as well as intellectual. Her dancing doesn’t seem to belong to any particular period, but remain contemporary and fresh even now. She is not of this world, rather the one we wish could exist.

<Sentimental cap off/>

PS. Other dancers you mention along with NB: Dudinskaya, Shelast, Osipenko, Makarova, Kolpakova, Assylmuratova, Kurgapkina just don’t do it for me. Sorry!

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The discussion on "Raymonda" has triggered more discussion on Bessmertnova. Even if Somova raised her technical level and musicality, I can't imagine a resemblance between the style and movement quality of an "ideal" Somova and Bessmertnova.

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