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Alina Somova


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#166 Drew

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 09:50 AM

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.

#167 Helene

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 10:43 AM


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.

#168 Simon G

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Posted 26 July 2011 - 02:35 PM

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.

#169 Barbara

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Posted 27 July 2011 - 11:22 AM

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.

#170 Mashinka

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 01:32 AM

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.

#171 George Ou

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 02:41 AM

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.

#172 Solnishka79

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 03:21 AM

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.

#173 Helene

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 11:00 AM

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"

#174 bart

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 01:28 PM

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.

#175 ksk04

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 01:53 PM

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.

#176 Helene

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 04:05 PM

I think we have to be cautious photo comparisons. Just about every dancer can be photographed in what looks like a bad position, it's hard to judge momentum and weight in most stills, and a supporting partner's position in supported adagio has impact on the alignment of the supported partner.

#177 Mashinka

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 06:32 AM

Alina Somova didn't appear as Nikiya in Saturday's matinee of Bayaderka and was replaced by Kondaurova: no reason was given.

Critic Giannandrea Poesio was very harsh about Somova in particular and the Kirov in general in The Spectator. Here's what he says about Somova

As Odile, the Black Swan, her performance was a compendium of escalating vulgarities, which culminated in triple and double fouettées ridiculously performed, against the tenets of the classical idiom, with little or no en dehors or ‘turn out’. Still, she dazzled those who haven’t a clue and love to cheer a display of nonsensical spinning


So much for the rumoured "improvements".

#178 bart

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 07:34 AM

I think we have to be cautious photo comparisons. Just about every dancer can be photographed in what looks like a bad position, it's hard to judge momentum and weight in most stills, and a supporting partner's position in supported adagio has impact on the alignment of the supported partner.

I agree completely abut being cautious. In this case, however, I think the still photographs are supported by a number of the video clips that have been posted on Ballet Alert over the years. Not to mention the reviews posted here from live performance. That out-of-alignment quality has been evident in so many of those, and not just in the case of Ms. Somova.

On the other hand, I'm a complete amateur in these matters. It would be great to hear from other members about what they think about Mr. Ou's photos, and what they do or do not show us.

For me, this series of photos raises a larger question than Ms. Somova's technique. It has to do with how much we can and cannot learn from still photography, and how much we can extrapolate from that..

#179 Natalia

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 09:43 AM

Mashinka wrote (and quoted) above:

Critic Giannandrea Poesio was very harsh about Somova in particular and the Kirov in general in The Spectator. Here's what he says about Somova


Quote

As Odile, the Black Swan, her performance was a compendium of escalating vulgarities...



Oh dear. This isn't going to help the trend of casting her less and less for the big galas and high-prestige tours. It sounds as if another Mariinsky ballerina is being "Makhalinized," although it's a bit jarring to see it happening in someone (a) this young (25/26) and (b) for whom the reason is not motherhood. [Other young principals have gone through this but it would usually be tied to motherhood at first, i.e., Pavlenko or 1st soloists Osmolkina, Dumchenko, etc.] Alas, the facts seem to be lining up:

* off the Feb/Mar 2011 Canada tour (no Bayadere/Ottawa, no Swan Lake/Toronto, with the latter cancelled at the very last moment...and still denied by the Mariinsky Press Office, even after I sent them a scan of my playbill, showing Terioshkina dancing in place of Somova)

* off the Youth America Grand Prix gala in NY, late March 2011

* no classical full lengths at the April 2011 Mariinsky Festival (after 5 straight yrs of being granted the most pretigious full-length Petipa evenings)

* only one full-length work in NYC, July 2011, and it was a 3rd-cast matinee (1 yr ago, would have been 1st-cast evening)

* only 1 SWAN LAKE in London (badly rec'vd, as we've read above), then taken off the BAYADERE matinee (lest we forget that just 2 yrs ago, Somova OPENED the 2009 London tour with her ROLE DEBUT as Juliet)

As YID had pointed out in the NYC tour thread: not so long ago, it was impossible to avoid a performance with Somova, e.g., in DC, she was either Kitri or Dryad Queen at every performance of DQ a couple of yrs ago. It seems to be the ebb and flow of life as a principal.

As for the photographic evidence:

Yes, it is very interesting to see clear-cut examples of alignment side-by-side. "The proof is in the pudding," as they say. However, it's perhaps even more important to critique the "essence" of the artist, i.e., does he/she bring you JOY, is he/she MUSICAL, does he/she convey the proper aristocratic airs in the big Petipa ballets? In all honesty, the technical imperfections of Ms Somova have irked me the least. It's the "big picture" that I've found hard to stomach. She could align herself perfectly but the lack of musicality, big grin, sticking-out of chin, and overall "hee-haw quality" would still be a problem, sorry to say.

#180 alexaa1a

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 10:57 AM

* off the Feb/Mar 2011 Canada tour (no Bayadere/Ottawa, no Swan Lake/Toronto, with the latter cancelled at the very last moment...and still denied by the Mariinsky Press Office, even after I sent them a scan of my playbill, showing Terioshkina dancing in place of Somova)

* off the Youth America Grand Prix gala in NY, late March 2011

* then taken off the BAYADERE matinee

She performed Swan Lake at the Mariinsky on February 19 with Vladimir Shklyarov and was injured during the performance, although she finished to the end. That was why she did not dance in Canada or YAGP.
Why she did not perform in Bayadere on Saturday is that she is very close to her coach, Tatiana Terekhova, and very close to her coach's husband, Sergei Berezhnoi, whose funeral was last Tuesday. Like, Anastasia Kolegova, who paid for her own airfare to leave Japan for her husband's funeral, Mariinsky does not pay airfare for special circumstances and like what happened with Kolegova staying at home instead of returning to Japan, Alina stayed home after the funeral on Tuesday.
Regarding 2011 Mariinsky Festival, Alina had been offered Swan Lake , but since Alina had performed many Swan Lake performances recently with Leonid Sarafanov in Italy, she did not want to dance another Swan Lake. That performance also was given to Kondaurova. Alina did close the Mariinsky Festival with the lead in the full length Dimanonds in the final piece of the closing Gala.


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