Jump to content


This site uses cookies. By using this site, you agree to accept cookies, unless you've opted out. (US government web page with instructions to opt out: http://www.usa.gov/optout-instructions.shtml)

Alina Somova


  • This topic is locked This topic is locked
216 replies to this topic

#76 Cygnet

Cygnet

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 741 posts

Posted 16 September 2010 - 08:26 AM

So her distortions are acceptable in Diamonds...?

Yes. Her distortions, incidents of technical seppuku, bent wrists, petrified fingers, failure to point toes, sickled feet, fudged steps, flexnastics, improvisation, footlight flirting, are acceptable in the ballets they've given to her.

At the moment, Lopatkina is the best and most active Diamond in the company (after Dasha Pavlenko IMO), who unfortunately is injured. Uliana would be the Diamond to send to Milan but she doesn't guest. Uliana stands at 5"9, so it would be impossible for her to find partners unless Danila Korsuntsev came with her. So, Vaziev requests and gets his protégée and Sarafanov.

The mentality is "no one else can do it but her." Fateev has one injured Principal, who when she's healthy is totally ignored and rarely cast (Pavlenko), two who are chronically inactive (Makhalina and Nioradze), one who makes infrequent appearances at home and is guest to the world (Vishneva), and one who averages 1-2 performances a month (Lopatkina). Besides 1st Soloists Kolegova and Matvienko, the classical rep is divided between Somova, Lopatkina, and Tereshkina, with other 1st and 2nd Soloists making occaisional appearances in roles, in many cases seasons apart. Tereshkina isn't considered a "major player" (yet), so Alina gets the nod.

Lidewij wrote:

She was the lead in 'Paquita' in the new years' performance that was broadcast on Arte, and that may end up on DVD.

Probably. I think that was the rationale for casting her: More exposure. But "Paquita" is a showpiece divertissement, not a full-length. Personally, I still think it's a miracle that she wasn't O/O in their most recent "Lake" dvd. That dvd was Maestro Gergiev's project; he conducted that live performance and his name is on the box along with Uliana's and Danila's. To this day, I believe if it wasn't his project and he wasn't conducting, it could've been Alina as the Swan Queen instead of a Big Swan. Vaziev was still the ballet director, and she was in heavy rotation at that time.

Helene wrote:

The silver lining in that broadcast is Tereshkina's Nikiya.

I agree Helene. Vika was sublime, and Katya Kondaurova delivered the Petersburg platinum standard/5 star performance in "Paquita."

#77 canbelto

canbelto

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,930 posts

Posted 16 September 2010 - 04:24 PM

Here's an idea: Mariinsky stars, in times past and present, have had a history of rebelling against the famously dictatorial, top-down management style. It's not really gossip -- stars have complained about being cruelly treated, poorly paid, restricted in their repertoire, and being worked to exhaustion. It's kind of always been like this too, from the days of Petipa onwards. But historically so many Mariinsky stars have left the nest either by guesting extensively or flat-out defecting to other companies/countries. But this can only happen if the star is talented enough to build a fanbase abroad. Perhaps the Mariinsky management likes/needs a Somova-type? In other words, a house ballerina who's willing to dance as often as possible, but without risk of defecting elsewhere or rebelling against management.

#78 Paul Parish

Paul Parish

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,925 posts

Posted 16 September 2010 - 04:24 PM

I don't hate her in this [Diamonds pdd]. It's a lot better than I expected, musically, nad I have nothing wrong with her lines. The promenade in passe is beautiful, much of it is in fact beautiful, the "Diana shooting hte arrow"poses are well-considered.

She's not Lopatkina or Farrell, the musicality isn't wonderful. But this role was built with very high extensions in the first place, and her clarity in extension is quite acceptable.

#79 bart

bart

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 7,320 posts

Posted 16 September 2010 - 06:02 PM

The amateur video -- shot as it is from above -- seems to exaggerate the effect of Samova's hyperextended knees and very long, very thin arms.

I am no expert but I have never seen a performance of Diamonds like this. It's like something danced underwater. The movement qualities I am used to have been altered as though by the force of invisible currents. I found myself thinking of the way sea grasses and delicate tentacled animals move in films of coral reefs. Some of it is nice but the whole strikes me as essentially aimless.

#80 Drew

Drew

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,334 posts

Posted 16 September 2010 - 06:50 PM

I don't hate her in this [Diamonds pdd]. It's a lot better than I expected, musically, nad I have nothing wrong with her lines. The promenade in passe is beautiful, much of it is in fact beautiful, the "Diana shooting hte arrow"poses are well-considered.

She's not Lopatkina or Farrell, the musicality isn't wonderful. But this role was built with very high extensions in the first place, and her clarity in extension is quite acceptable.


This was more or less my reaction. Without thinking this was a great Diamonds, I found the video far from "nasty" (as one viewer above did), though I could not quite put an analysis into words.

#81 cubanmiamiboy

cubanmiamiboy

    Diamonds Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,275 posts

Posted 16 September 2010 - 08:50 PM

But this role was built with very high extensions in the first place, and her clarity in extension is quite acceptable.

Paul, but what really shocks me about Somova is not quite the showing of her hyper extended limbs...(actually I think Zakharova abuses the trick way beyond Somova)-but rather how distorted her hyper extensions are...(which I have to recognize I don't feel with Zakharova). I mean, I'm not an expert or anything on "lines", but c'mon...this girl's limbs look like they have a life of their own...a very disorganized one, IMO...

#82 Helene

Helene

    Administrator

  • Administrators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 11,470 posts

Posted 16 September 2010 - 09:07 PM

Somova doesn't look like ballerina material in this video to me. She looks student-like.

Like the later "Chaconne", in "Diamonds" Balanchine emphasized Farrell walking, especially the feet, which Farrell could make sing. I blanched at Somova's tendu front. I don't know what music she was listening to.

That said, her arms were quite lovely in places, although that did not compensate for energy, dynamics, and musicality.

#83 Quiggin

Quiggin

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 852 posts

Posted 16 September 2010 - 09:23 PM

I agree with Bart's characterization of this watery Diamonds: it's not Diamonds at all. 80% of her gestures are in italics - "emphasis mine" she's saying. It's ok to be elastic with time with Balanchine, but not with rubbery and rococo gestures. And what must her Giselle be like!

Oh, yes Cygnet, Daria Pavlenko was great in Diamonds here in the SF Bay Area several years ago - with Danila Korsuntsev - very measured and classical.

#84 Paul Parish

Paul Parish

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,925 posts

Posted 16 September 2010 - 10:27 PM

Pavlenko was indeed mesmerizing in hte adagio -- I remember the feeling that I was looking deep into her eyes all the way through. She is so poetic, so deep, and as a woman, she's very beautiful. I was struck by how much she looked like hte young Elizabeth Taylor. She was weak in hte scherzo, though.

Me, I'm not crazy about DIamonds; I find Farrell's performance on the "Dance in America" video not very interesting. I never saw her doit live, and i'm sure that was a very different story. But I wasn't there and didn't see it. Kyra Nichols was marvellous when I saw her live.

julie Diana danced it here with SFB, very like Pavlenko -- huge eyes, deep pools of melancholy, beautiful performance. Sarah van Patten is tremendous in hte role, almost like Lopatkina, who is by far my favorite -- with Lopatkina, I find the phrasing astonishes me, the whole thing is cryptic and mysterious to the highest degree and every moment is a surprise.

But the performers who've bored me in it are legion. I won't mention any names.

i don't find Somova boring. QUite the opposite, she has star quality, her very fine-boned limbs etch a very vivid line. She seems coltish and very young, she seems younger than she actually is, which is EXCELLENT for Balanchine. Though she's not fascinating, she makes a case for this ballet that it's kinda Melisand-ish, which carries over the echoes of Faure's music that I find very pronounced, so the echoes of Emeralds in the honr-calls all make it feel like some frail moon-child girl is trapped in a tower in hte forest somewhere, and Somova can evoke these romance-heropine qualities by her spectral pale thin-ness and her fey qualities. I think she's much better as a moonlit creature than as say kitri (which she danced here in Berkeley, unconvincingly) or Odette, which calls for gravitas....

#85 richard53dog

richard53dog

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,401 posts

Posted 17 September 2010 - 05:53 AM

I am no expert but I have never seen a performance of Diamonds like this. It's like something danced underwater. The movement qualities I am used to have been altered as though by the force of invisible currents. I found myself thinking of the way sea grasses and delicate tentacled animals move in films of coral reefs. Some of it is nice but the whole strikes me as essentially aimless.


This is one of the two big problems I have with Somova in this video. Perhaps first is the quality of her movement itself, which seems to me very , very strange, and not very good at all. Like with some other dancers today, I don't see a strong, beautiful sense of movement, instead I see transitions from one pose to another. And here's my second problem, Somova looks amateurish as she sets up these positions; so it's not necessarily the extreme extensions themselves (as others have pointed out, not so inappropriate here) and the resultant distorians but the way she thrusts her limbs into position in an often jerky manner.

As Bart noted, she seems to be moving underwater. I would think if this video were slowed down it would look even stranger.

#86 Quiggin

Quiggin

    Gold Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 852 posts

Posted 17 September 2010 - 12:46 PM

Paul Parish:

Me, I'm not crazy about DIamonds; I find Farrell's performance on the "Dance in America" video not very interesting. I never saw her doit live, and i'm sure that was a very different story. But I wasn't there and didn't see it. Kyra Nichols was marvellous when I saw her live.


Nichols was great - and I thought the productions of Diamonds at City Ballet in the early nineties, the dark years, were quite amazing. Diamonds depends on great and dazzling counterpoint between the two leads - the 2007 Miami Herald rehearsal video of Deanna Seay, with Isanusi Garcia-Rodriguez incisively sweeping across behind, showed this - it was much different than the larghissimo Farrell/Martins one, which is baroque but still interesting. Also brilliant counterpoint between leads and the corps and within the corps - at City Ballet everything came tumbling on the heels of everything else. It has to be done without much preparation - Octavio Roca points this out as the virtue of the Cuban approach to Balanchine, the last step or beat being the beginning of the first of the next phrase - or else the ballet loses its meaning.

#87 Canary

Canary

    Member

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 20 posts

Posted 20 September 2010 - 08:51 PM

I've seen quite a lot of videos of Somova on youtube and interestingly I find her movement quality reminds me of another controversial Maryinsky ballerina: Galina Mezentseva.Same weird way of holding the arms and both super skinny physically. It's funny because like Somova, Mezentseva was a ballerina that many Westerners never "got", personally I have no idea why Mezentseva was such a star, she had a really weird way of moving, like her limbs were too long and her technique was not so strong.Maybe Somova is a throwback to Mezentseva, and that is why the Maryinsky management likes her, they also really loved Mezentseva.

#88 richard53dog

richard53dog

    Platinum Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,401 posts

Posted 21 September 2010 - 04:56 AM

I've seen quite a lot of videos of Somova on youtube and interestingly I find her movement quality reminds me of another controversial Maryinsky ballerina: Galina Mezentseva.Same weird way of holding the arms and both super skinny physically. It's funny because like Somova, Mezentseva was a ballerina that many Westerners never "got", personally I have no idea why Mezentseva was such a star, she had a really weird way of moving, like her limbs were too long and her technique was not so strong.Maybe Somova is a throwback to Mezentseva, and that is why the Maryinsky management likes her, they also really loved Mezentseva.



Canary, you may be on to something with Mezentseva. I never saw Mezentseva live, only on videos, but I remained in the camp that never really got her. She was really admired and sort of actually adored by an awful lot of people so it remains a bit of a puzzling situation. But there are a lot of performers in a lot of different areas of performance (dancers, singers, actors, etc)that polarize their audiences so it's best to accept that sort of situation. It's really fairly common and the best approach is to agree to disagree.

But going back to Mezentseva, my beef with her was the way she moved. I never got (only on video) a really beautiful, striking quality of movement, just a transition from one pose to another. And the long , very thin , limbs didn't paint an attractive picture as they went from one position to the next. I find many of the current crop of MT dancers on the brittle side and, from videos anyway, it seems Mezentseva was the model for that kind of dancer. Now again, I try to be careful, what appears brittle and unlovely to me can seem just breathtaking to somewhat else with a different perspective. So it's good to be aware of that. This is how I try to think of these seemingly unresolvable differences in opinion.

I remember watching a video some years ago shot in St Pete. It juxtaposed the lead Kirov ballerina, mezentseva, rehearsing and performing bits of Swan Lake with the very young Altynai Asylmuratova who was coaching the same roles in preparation for her first performance (I may be a bit off on the details here). But what struck me was the difference between the two, Mezentseva with her long, brittle looking arms, carefully transitioning from one position to the next and the much less experienced Asylmuratova dancing some of the same bits with a beautiful, singing, graceful movement.

But yes, your post was a bit of an AHA moment for me. But let me also state that I find some very obvious differences between the two. Mezentseva seemed to have a much better schooling and technique than Somova in terms of executing various types of steps. But both seem , well, somewhat clunky to me.

#89 Natalia

Natalia

    Rubies Circle

  • Foreign Correspondent
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,421 posts

Posted 21 September 2010 - 09:11 AM

Cygnet wrote:

By the Mariinsky's standards, (and their indulgence of her's), her rise is unprecedented. My conclusion? Two words: Manufactured career.


Precedented in the not-too-distant past by this lady: Xenia Ter-Stepanova. Just read what Valeri Panov writes about her in his bio and see that Somova is not the first Kirov (Mariinsky) ballerina manufactured solely on politics, rather than talent. At least Ter-Stepanova's rise was more or less stiffled after she bombed with the Western press during the first tours to the UK & US. Somehow Somova keeps thumping on. :helpsmilie:

#90 Cygnet

Cygnet

    Silver Circle

  • Senior Member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 741 posts

Posted 21 September 2010 - 09:34 AM

Natalia wrote,

. . . At least Ter-Stepanova's rise was more or less stiffled after she bombed with the Western press during the first tours to the UK & US. Somehow Somova keeps thumping on.


:dunno:. That's what makes Somova's case so bizarre.

. . . But yes, your post was a bit of an AHA moment for me. But let me also state that I find some very obvious differences between the two. Mezentseva seemed to have a much better schooling and technique than Somova in terms of executing various types of steps. But both seem, well, somewhat clunky to me.

I totally agree Canary and richard53dog. I never understood Galina either. However, in her heyday Mezentseva was considered the book to be studied by V. Academy students. To this day Lopatkina worships her as a unique artist. Unlike Alina, Galina's technique was solid and reliable. Mezentseva wasn't an aerial ballerina, and she had moderate dramatic ability, but her port de bras, epaulement, turnout, pointe and terre a terre work was "there." Her 2nd Act in Giselle had a brittleness that just didn't work for me. I state the same about her "Swan Lake." I think her technique was solid because she studied in the Academy's 'Perfection Class' prior to graduation, and then she was assigned to coach Olga Moiseyeva as one of her first pupils. Galina saturated her Odette with mannerisms, and her Odile was dry with little characterization. Sometimes her fouttes, took a chef's tour of the kitchen,but the bottom line is that she was technically consistent throughout her performances. For me, the summation of Galina's artistry and her personal best role was the Lilac Fairy.


0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users


Help support Ballet Alert! and Ballet Talk for Dancers year round by using this search box for your amazon.com purchases (adblockers may block display):