kirovboy

Alina Somova

217 posts in this topic

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.

Well, I can. Besides, technical virtuoso Bessmertnova was not.

I also got carried away a bit in my previous post stating that Kolpakova doesn’t do it for me. She certainly does, but not the other Kirov period dancers mentioned in the same sentence, no matter how highly revered they might be by others.

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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.

Well, I can. Besides, technical virtuoso Bessmertnova was not.

I also got carried away a bit in my previous post stating that Kolpakova doesn’t do it for me. She certainly does, but not the other Kirov period dancers mentioned in the same sentence, no matter how highly revered they might be by others.

To say Bessmertnova had no technical virtuosity is nonsense.

If Somova achieves an nth of the career and place in ballet history that Bessmertnova did she'd be lucky. Very lucky and given the reduction of her role and place within the Mariinsky that's looking increasingly unlikely.

Bessmertnova had technique in abundance, the fact that she was able to pique onto pointe in arabesque without falling off, distorting her line completely, keep her turnout and not fall off pointe and actually use her feet properly, abilities that Somova doesn't have, very basic fundamental rudiments of technique that Somova hasn't mastered makes Bessmertnova the clear leader in terms of technical achievement.

You've stated before that a dancer isn't a ballerina unless she has sky high extensions and the ability of knock off triple pirouettes within a fouette coda. Again nonsense and holding this view makes me rather pretty sad at the parlous state of what certain factions of modern ballet has become.

A ballerina who is a great dancer is no less a ballerina or no less a technician if she chooses to do 32 well placed fouettes, keep her leg in line with her body in a square arabesque or developpe. Technique isn't about tricks and in the case of Somova tricks done very badly many of the greatest ballerinas in history of whom there are ample video records: Ulanova, Plisestskaya, Kolpakova, Fonteyn, Seymour, Sibley, Grey, Osipenko, Assylmuratova had sufficient technique to get them from A to B to express what they wanted through the medium of ballet and in many cases were considered virtuosos and their virtuosity still stands today if one is willing to forego the need for gymnastics and focus on what ballet technique is actually all about.

In the case of Somova it's becoming more and more that she appears to be an embarrassment to the Mariinsky management - a young prima within a world class company shouldn't be buried in the rep and schedule, in one case at a reduced price matinee, but both the Mariinsky & the Hochhausers know that not only is Somova unable to fulfill the technical demands of the rep that should be hers by right, but this is a dancer people won't be prepared to pay to see, whose reviews are indifferent to scathing and yet by dint of elevated position has to be appeased with at least some performances, for the present.

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Personally, I can't speak for "people". I consider myself just a member of the audience, nothing more, nothing less.

Back to Bessmertnova. She was certainly technically strong but she was not a virtuoso. Not the way Natalia Dudinskaya or Michail Barishnikov were. This however doesn’t take anything away from Bessmertnova’s greatness. There is a point where technical virtuosity starts to overpower other aspects of a performance and a performer, Osipova being *the* poster child of this phenomenon (Thank God Somova is not Osipova!).

“Ulanova, Plisestskaya, Kolpakova, Fonteyn, Seymour, Sibley, Grey, Osipenko, Assylmuratova” - you got me here, Simon. They might be good technicians but out of the bunch only Ulanova, Kolpakova and Assylmuratova come close to moving me the way modern dancers do and yes, the way Somova’s luminous stage persona does. The rest aforementioned artists are certainly some ones to be revered as part of rich balletic heritage, but quietly passed over while searching for an interesting ballet feature on YouTube.

PS. Don’t have a clue as to why Somova has been given four and not fourteen appearances in the upcoming London season. I won't be there :-))) Although I personally know people who will fly across the pond for a chance to catch her in "La Bayadere".

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Personally, I can't speak for "people". I consider myself just a member of the audience, nothing more, nothing less.

You love Somova, that's fine for you she's the apogee of ballet, you are in a minority especially here but that's absolutely your right, I've always upheld that.

There is a point where technical virtuosity starts to overpower other aspects of a performance and a performer, Osipova being *the* poster child of this phenomenon (Thank God Somova is not Osipova!).

To consider Somova a greater artist than Osipova is just silly, in every sense. And I daresay the Mariinsky don't agree otherwise Somova would be onstage a lot more and would actually be considered a box office draw.

“Ulanova, Plisestskaya, Kolpakova, Fonteyn, Seymour, Sibley, Grey, Osipenko, Assylmuratova” - you got me here, Simon. They might be good technicians but out of the bunch only Ulanova, Kolpakova and Assylmuratova come close to moving me the way modern dancers do and yes, the way Somova’s luminous stage persona does. The rest aforementioned artists are certainly some ones to be revered as part of rich balletic heritage, but quietly passed over while searching for an interesting ballet feature on YouTube.

You can't possibly talk about a "luminous" stage presence when you haven't actually seen a dancer onstage. And to consider Fonteyn or Seymour or Grey (of whom there is nothing on Youtube). Moreover there are whole schools of ballet and dancers who are not represented on Youtube. Suzanne Farrell, Gelsey Kirkland, Melissa Hayden, Allegra Kent, Cynthia Gregory, Bryony Brind, what about the great Cubans? The Bejart dancers, the great Danish dancers of the 50s, 60s. Or those Unknown to the masses yet greatly celebrated dancers like Trinidad Sevillano, Markova - my point is there is a world of dance out there which is worth exploring, a world of greatness and great depth - if you want to quietly pass over Fonteyn well that's your prerogative.

PS. Don’t have a clue as to why Somova has been given four and not fourteen appearances in the upcoming London season. I won't be there :-))) Although I personally know people who will fly across the pond for a chance to catch her in "La Bayadere".

They'd have a hard time because Somova isn't down for Bayadere. However the reason why Somova isn't dancing is because in Europe, in the US and increasingly in Russia, as many Russian correspondents have stated on these boards Somova is not popular, nor is she a box office draw, if she were she'd be on every night. You put dancers onstage who sell tickets, it's business and Somova is not seen as someone who can barely sell a ticket for $50 let alone $250.

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I'm losing my patience.

Our rules are very clear:

1. Do not discuss the discussion

2. If you have a problem with a post, hit the "report" button and do not discuss it on the board (see #1) and the Moderators will consider it

Don't even think about posting that my Admin posts are "discussing the discussion", because that's one of the superpowers we Admins and Moderators have, and you can see how much fun it is.

Members will come to their own conclusions about what other members' "problems" are. We don't need to be told what the board is for, although we sometimes have to remind people. We also monitor single-issue posters carefully; posting regularly on a single topic can itself be an agenda. (Determining such is one of our other superpowers, as this is a private board.)

I'm not going to bother to edit posts anymore. I'm going straight to "Moderated" status going forward, because we've finally got ourselves some summer here in Vancouver.

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I've seen Somova many times in the past 6 years. During the City Center run a few years ago it was impossible not to see her - they did 3 pieces a night and rotated the casting so if you wanted to see Lopatkina's 3rd act Raymonda you had to see her Paquita, or her Bayadere etc.

In the Mariinsky's other tours I sometimes saw her because I bought tickets before they announced casting, sometimes because they switched the casting, and sometimes because I loved the ballet they were performing, wanted to see their fabulous soloists and corps one more time & was interested in seeing if Somova had improved - because I do believe that she has potential.

Bottom line - in the 15-20 times I've seen her dance I saw her give 2 performances that I thought were outstanding (1 of 3 performances of the Bayadere shades scene I saw her give and an Etudes - both during the NY CC season). I also enjoyed her recent Tsar Maiden, I felt that the role suited her very well and that she'd improved greatly. However, like Faux Pas, I saw all 3 NY casts and she was definitely my least favorite of the 3.

The reasons why? They have all been stated previously in this thread:

From Helene: 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.

From Faux Pas: Somova who has a remarkable physical endowment and flexibility, is a dancer of individual effects or even individual steps

From Batsuchan (by way of Faux Pas): 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.

From YID: 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...

To summarize, I agree with the above opinions - she lacks a cantilena flow, her steps often appear to be unconnected, her limbs often look floppy and unconnected to her body. Her turnout can be weak, her line is not always harmonious and her musicality is questionable.

However she does have a striking and unique physicality, a charming personality (when not leading by her chin) and is very obviously talented. I hope her new coach is able to help her realize her potential.

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We Londoners will see for ourselves if Somova has upped her game or not. She is scheduled to dance Ballet Imperial with my beloved Igor Kolb, a dancer to cherish for his pure classicism, so unless the casting meisters of the Kirov amend that absurd casting I shall be seeing her dance even though I would normally follow Angelique's advice and avoid like the plague a dancer I cannot stand.

Ridiculous comments regarding Bessmertnova: she had fantastic technique, though after becoming Mrs Grigorovich she relinquished roles such as Kitri and become rather type-cast. In Don Q (yes, I did see it live) she ran Maximova close and her faults were negligible though the 'broken wrists' in the classics bothered many purists.

I think on reflection that the reason Somova is being down graded in London is due to two important factors, the drubbing she got from the critics and the luke warm reception from audiences. Last time around she opened and closed the season to the dismay of the fans but we are being spared that this time so perhaps someone in the Kirov administration is finally waking up to reality.

Is someone suggesting Somova is equal to Osipova? That's a joke, yes? Although I didn't see it I believe the Kirov drafted in Osipova for the 3D version of Giselle - that must tell you something about Osipova's status internationally.

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To expand on an earlier post that I made, it seems to me that Maryiinsky managers are treating Ms Somova like a young second soloist. She gets fewer international roles, and when she does, they are at matinees, and in roles that do not require extensive acting (Tsar Maiden and Balanchine plotless set pieces). I suppose this is a demotion, but it might be the best thing possible for Somova in the long run. She can slowly grow up to the stature of a prima ballerina. Or not. Perhaps she will retire before then, or will never gain the skills truly needed o blossom.

Ms Somova reminds me of a young athlete who "goes pro" far too soon, and then doesn't live up to the hype, and then the arm chair quarter backs make fun of the athlete for disappointing them. No one talks about all the adults around the young person who pushed him/her into going pro so soon. There is just echo chamber back biting.

I do have some compassion for Ms Somova and hope her English has not improved the point where she can read this thread, which wouldn't necessarily help her improve her dancing.

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.... "beloved" Somova....

:rofl:

Gratefully for the overwhelming majority of the long-time Kirov-Mariinsky cognoscenti, Somova is no longer being featured ad nauseam on tours, as she was in 2004/10. Exhibit A from earlier this year: "O CANADA!" :toot:

On a more serious note:

In any major company, there are always dancers of different styles, and the cognoscenti can pick and choose favorite ballerinas. For example, in the 1970s, I preferred Kolpakova to Komleva...but I always respected Komleva and understood her positives, such as spunky athleticism. In the 1980s, I much preferred Assylmuratova or Terekhova to Chenchikova or Mesentzeva, but I always respected and understood the beautiful lines and gracious musicality of the latter two. The 1990s, I preferred Lopatkina or "early Vishneva" to Volochkova or "early Zakharova" but I always saw the "art" of the latter two and understood why they were cheered by their fans. In the last ten years, the ascendancy and the seemingly-stubborn 'propping' of Somova by the MT's management until very recently was an anomaly that defied logic and understanding. Even the ballerinas of the past who were not my favorites -- the Komlevas, Chenchikovas, Volochkovas -- had basic turn-out, finesse, and musicality -- i.e., qualities that are, to me, totally lacking in Somova. In the future, I'll look back at the 2000s decade of the Mariinsky Ballet as an incredibly weird 'nightmare' that I somehow survived. The hurricane has passed.

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Ms Somova reminds me of a young athlete who "goes pro" far too soon, and then doesn't live up to the hype, and then the arm chair quarter backs make fun of the athlete for disappointing them. No one talks about all the adults around the young person who pushed him/her into going pro so soon. There is just echo chamber back biting.

This has been raised and discussed many times on various threads. Regardless of why a dancer is featured, the performance he or she puts on stage is the valid subject for criticism, just as it is when any professional athlete performs before the paying public.

---

I hope that the way Somova has been cast this year under a newish administration is based on sanity having been restored, for her sake and ours; however, I'm sure we can all recall numerous times and circumstances when a great dancer has been shelved for reasons that seem inexplicable.

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Ms Somova reminds me of a young athlete who "goes pro" far too soon, and then doesn't live up to the hype, and then the arm chair quarter backs make fun of the athlete for disappointing them. No one talks about all the adults around the young person who pushed him/her into going pro so soon. There is just echo chamber back biting.

This has been raised and discussed many times on various threads. Regardless of why a dancer is featured, the performance he or she puts on stage is the valid subject for criticism, just as it is when any professional athlete performs before the paying public.

---

I hope that the way Somova has been cast this year under a newish administration is based on sanity having been restored, for her sake and ours; however, I'm sure we can all recall numerous times and circumstances when a great dancer has been shelved for reasons that seem inexplicable.

For the sake of brevity, what "Simon G," "Mashinka," "Jayne" and Helene have said with this addendum: I would like to point out again, (and I've done this on a few occaisions) that Somova was put in this position by the Vazievs and Fateev. The latter made the situation worse by promoting her to Principal in Fall 2008. Is this Somova’s fault? No. Her problem has always been the fact that she hasn't been able to deliver what Makhar, Olga his wife, and Yuri thought she could deliver. When the truth manifested itself in their faces over, and over and over again, they refused to listen nor adjust their position. I don't feel sorry for Somova because even the likes of Farrell, Maximova and Fonteyn (for example), great Primas who were given everything at an early age like Somova – rose to the challenge and fulfilled their promise. Why? Because they already had what they needed in their "kits" from jump; Alina did not. This is why Somova is in the untenable position she finds herself today.

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Her problem has always been the fact that she hasn't been able to deliver what Makhar, Olga his wife, and Yuri thought she could deliver. When the truth manifested itself in their faces over, and over and over again, they refused to listen nor adjust their position.

What's frightening is that in the "Ballerina" documentary, there is a scene on stage in which this is very clear, where Somova is not able to give them what they want, and, to me, her confidence looks shaken.

Farrell and Fonteyn had the kind of egos that allowed them to stand up to Balanchine, Ashton, and de Valois. I don't think Somova has that iron will and confidence. Farrell, Fonteyn, and Maximova were muses to choreographers, which takes strong artistry, while Somova is not.

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apples and oranges come to mind here.

Somova was not working with/for an Ashton or Balanchine, that's for sure; likewise neither Farrell nor Fonteyn so far as i can tell, was filmed for a documentary in such circumstances as those in BALLERINA; being in front of a camera when one is working can't be all that simple or easy.

Farrell was much criticized in her earliest days and trashed, too, but she had Balanchine's confidence and that's seemingly all she needed.

tho' each individual's opinion is but that, individual, it might be of interest to know that Somova has had the good opinion of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Irina Kolpakova (both of whom voiced such to me personally, in Kolpakova's case she enthusiastically prodded me to see Somova in HUMPBACKED HORSE, not that i needed any prodding) and Maya Plisetskaya, which is noted in a recent TIME OUT NEW YORK interview.

if Farrell's artistic director ran scared of the negativity directed in her direction, she might not have been the legendary dancer she is today.

if Mariinsky directors are running scared of things written, usually behind screen names, on the web, then i'd say the problem is with their own vision and confidence.

as for wondering if Somova reads this thread: English or no English, I trust the serious-seeming young woman has far better things to do w/ her time.

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tho' each individual's opinion is but that, individual, it might be of interest to know that Somova has had the good opinion of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Irina Kolpakova (both of whom voiced such to me personally, in Kolpakova's case she enthusiastically prodded me to see Somova in HUMPBACKED HORSE, not that i needed any prodding) and Maya Plisetskaya, which is noted in a recent TIME OUT NEW YORK interview.

Individual opinion, yes, but golden! Just like Golden is the Mask Award for The Tsar Maiden.

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tho' each individual's opinion is but that, individual, it might be of interest to know that Somova has had the good opinion of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Irina Kolpakova (both of whom voiced such to me personally, in Kolpakova's case she enthusiastically prodded me to see Somova in HUMPBACKED HORSE, not that i needed any prodding) and Maya Plisetskaya, which is noted in a recent TIME OUT NEW YORK interview.

Individual opinion, yes, but golden! Just like Golden is the Mask Award for The Tsar Maiden.

Just a pity none of that has translated into Box Office Gold.

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Just a pity none of that has translated into Box Office Gold.

Leaving aside the question of Somova for a moment, I have to say I'm reluctant to think of "box office gold" as a key criterion for great ballet dancing. I realize that was not the point of your comment, but I'm still wary of confusing the two. Nureyev was much bigger box office than Bruhn--but Bruhn was as great and as historic a dancer, at least in the judgment of many of us. Martine Van Hamel was the favorite ABT Odette-Odile of many knowledgeable ballet fans, but--as far as I am aware--not as "box office" as Makarova (also a great Odette-Odile)...Many ballet greats ARE box office gold of course, but not all of them.

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Just a pity none of that has translated into Box Office Gold.

Leaving aside the question of Somova for a moment, I have to say I'm reluctant to think of "box office gold" as a key criterion for great ballet dancing. I realize that was not the point of your comment, but I'm still wary of confusing the two. Nureyev was much bigger box office than Bruhn--but Bruhn was as great and as historic a dancer, at least in the judgment of many of us. Martine Van Hamel was the favorite ABT Odette-Odile of many knowledgeable ballet fans, but--as far as I am aware--not as "box office" as Makarova (also a great Odette-Odile)...Many ballet greats ARE box office gold of course, but not all of them.

I agree with this, because every case is different. I cringe every time I hear people around me at PNB look up the casting and say with disappointment, "But he/she's only a Soloist (or Corps)". I loved Van Hamel's dancing, but it wasn't only Makarova: it was, for a time, also Gregory, and the hype was "Great American-born and -trained dancer vs. Soviet-trained dancer". The narrative doesn't seem to be able to support more than that.

I remember a childhood friend having tried to figure out Royal Ballet tour casting when we were preteens, was extremely disappointed that she didn't correctly predict the Fonteyn and Nureyev performance, and groused about the couple she did see. I told another friend about this years later, and she said, "Hmm, she probably saw" and rattled off a list of ballerinas whom I would kill to see, just as I had a college friend in theater whose day would be ruined if an understudy played the part instead of the lead in his 435th performance.

I'd like to believe that Mariinsky management has come to its senses and has given Somova a more manageable schedule: scarcity will mean, for the most part, that people who care and like her will seek her out. I think just about any dancer who is ubiquitous will be resented eventually.

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Leaving aside the question of Somova for a moment, I have to say I'm reluctant to think of "box office gold" as a key criterion for great ballet dancing. I realize that was not the point of your comment, but I'm still wary of confusing the two. Nureyev was much bigger box office than Bruhn--but Bruhn was as great and as historic a dancer, at least in the judgment of many of us. Martine Van Hamel was the favorite ABT Odette-Odile of many knowledgeable ballet fans, but--as far as I am aware--not as "box office" as Makarova (also a great Odette-Odile)...Many ballet greats ARE box office gold of course, but not all of them.

Drew,

I completely agree and I'd never equate box office draw with greatness in a dancer. I'd never trammel Van Hamel, I'm just over Somova.

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I remember a childhood friend having tried to figure out Royal Ballet tour casting when we were preteens, was extremely disappointed that she didn't correctly predict the Fonteyn and Nureyev performance, and groused about the couple she did see. I told another friend about this years later, and she said, "Hmm, she probably saw" and rattled off a list of ballerinas whom I would kill to see, just as I had a college friend in theater whose day would be ruined if an understudy played the part instead of the lead in his 435th performance.

I remember a similar situation where I was disappointed not to see Fonteyn/Nureyev when the Royal Ballet visited L.A. Instead I saw a Park/MacCleary (sp?) performance and was told by someone in the know that I had probably seen the better performance. And Merle Park became a favorite of mine thereafter.

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Having now seen the 'new improved' Alina Somova it is apparent that any improvements are strictly cosmetic, literally in the case of her hair as she has ditched the cheap blonde look for what is presumably her natural colour and looks the better for it. The habit of sticking out her chin has all but gone too, but for the rest her line is still ugly and she still maintains poor épaulement. Having seen two Ballet Imperials back to back, the first with Victoria Tereshkina and the second night with Somova, there was no comparison as Tereshkina is so technically superior it was like seeing two different ballets, frankly Somova was completely out of her depth and relied on her fall back position of hideously high extensions to grab the audiences attention: not a pretty sight. She remains the Kirov dancer to avoid.

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http://www.flickr.co...@N00/6032022792

Svetlana Zakharova shows off superb arabesque alignment. Her spine (even the lower part) is virtually straight up and down with minimal forward shift and no lateral shift. Hip is in front of the center of gravity and box of the standing shoe. How does one know if Zakharova isn't wrongly shifting her spine to the side? We can tell because her torso is tall above her hip even when we can't see her front the front.

Alina Somova tends to cheat her front and arabesque lines such that she is rarely fully front or fully back. When she does get it fully back, she tends to shift her shoulders towards her standing side which is a very fundamental alignment mistake. In the photo above, her spine should be directly over the box of her shoe but it's shifted about a foot to her right (viewer's left). In the 2007 documentary "Prima Ballerina", the director of the Mariinsky Theatre was criticizing Somova's Swan Lake Attitude position saying he doesn't like it and this photo above illustrates the main problem.

Nobody denies Somova is a beautiful girl with likable stage presence, but she's not above some fundamental criticism of her technique. It's not simply a "choice" or that she's somehow setting some new standard like Sylvie Guillem. Miss Somova simply has some bad form. This isn't a knock against the Vaganova school as I feel they're undeniably one of the best in the world. it's just pointing out the facts.

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YouTube user RussianBalletvideo has added clips of Somova as a student. I think he posted 2nd year, 3rd year, 4th year, and 7th year clips.

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I love his or her titles:

"1997 Alina Somova Vaganova 2nd Yr Student Smallest in Class Mariinsky Ballerina"

"1999 Alina Somova 4th Yr Vaganova Student Still Short Mariinsky Ballerina"

"2002 Vaganova 7th Year Taller Alina Somova Very Tall Elena Vostrotina Mariinsky "

and later, on another topic:

"Yana Selina Ballerina ExtraordinaIre Antoinette Said Let Them Eat Cake Mariinsky Give Yana"

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George Ou, thank you for the photographs. The point about poor alignment has been made by others during our long discussions, but your photograph support this point quite well.

The other photos in your photo stream are revealing as well.

Welcome to Ballet Alert. Looking forward to having you join our ongoing conversations.

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The most intriguing class videos would be from years 5 and 6 (the missing years)...because in the earliest clips she seems to be a very pure dancer (though the back flexibility does hint at things to come). Then all of the sudden in year 7 she is the Somova we all know. What happened in those two years in between?! The extreme growth spurt seems to have caused all the floppy limbs, but even in the younger videos her knees are not as hyper-extended as they are now, which I find interesting. I have hyper-extended knees and they are visible in photos from a very young age; either Somova hides them well in the younger videos or they were a result of a growth spurt which seems very weird.

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