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Alina Somova's Performances Highlight of 2008?!


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#1 abatt

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 10:00 AM

Hi. I don't know if anyone caught the Year End "Best Of" edition of Sun Dec. 21, 2008 NY Times, Arts & Leisure Section. Columnist Gia Kourlas stated that Somova's dancing was one of the highlights of 2008 dance performances. She refers to Alina Somova as "a lithe young dancer with an angular face and a halo of platinum hair." Kourlas further states, "Her effortless extensions and individual touches — fouetté turns embellished with darting kicks — were full of juicy aplomb, layering her performances with a blend of glacial grandness and coltish resolve."


Did anyone else read this! Were Gia and I watching the same performances!? I might give Somova the acrobat or gymnast of the year award, but her dancing certainly was not a highlight of 2008.

#2 rg

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 10:38 AM

it might be good to stress that while Somova has a good number of detractors, esp. on BT, there are also other ballet watchers who don't agree with these highly negative assessments and who find much to admire and laud in her.
i personally heard from a very prominent, former Kirov dancer in the NYC, who made a point of telling me to me that Somova was for him the highlight of the Kirov's recent season in NYC.
i'm not necessarily comparing them at all, but Suzanne Farrell's rise at NYCB had a good dose of negativity surrounding her at the start of her years under Balanchine.
time will tell if Somova's career will carry her to a pinacle that pales the waves of negativity sometimes greeting her earliest years.

#3 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 11:59 AM

a halo of platinum hair." .

...a point was established already that it is yellow.

#4 rg

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 12:18 PM

"established" by whom, under what light, in what season, etc. etc.?

#5 abatt

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 01:00 PM

a halo of platinum hair." .

...a point was established already that it is yellow.



LOL! Is there a Hair Style Talk site somewhere? I'm guessing there is.

#6 Natalia

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 01:55 PM

Multiple posters on this forum have reported on the yellow color of Somova's hair, its dark-brown roots, etc. Ditto the Fu-Manchu nails. The details are not as important as the general fact that multiple writers have found it necessary to comment on such seemingly-trivial facts of a dancer's personal grooming. It should not even be discussed and it would not be discussed in 99.9% of dancers. The fact that it is even discussed means something. Were I a dancer, I would be embarrassed if fans were discussing my grooming habits. Alas, the dancer (or her coaches) bring a lot of these seemingly-trivial and unecessary comments upon herself. Fans of ballet would love to NOT have to even mention these things...but we are not blind.

On one thing we can all agree, I think: Love her or hate her, Ms. Somova is a lightning rod for discussion.

#7 aurora

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 02:05 PM

a halo of platinum hair." .

...a point was established already that it is yellow.



LOL! Is there a Hair Style Talk site somewhere? I'm guessing there is.


I think there is plenty to criticize in her dancing without making fun of her hair. :thumbsup: I wouldn't exactly call it a halo, but I was much more interested in Kourlas' description of her fouettés:

fouetté turns embellished with darting kicks — were full of juicy aplomb

she certainly did "kick" a lot in her fouettés--but I thought this was awful, she looked jerky and off balance. In fact with the exception of Tereshkina, I didn't think any of the Kirov stars had very pretty fouetté turns. But Somova's were absolutely the worst--she positively lurched in my view. So to see those turns especially praised is rather shocking to me.

I found this on youtube but one, they look considerably better than what I saw in NYC, and two the angle obscures her lurch when she comes off pointe. Still I don't see them as model turns


#8 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 03:45 PM

multiple writers have found it necessary to comment on such seemingly-trivial facts of a dancer's personal grooming.

Well, there are whole threads dedicated to the length of a dancer's hair, ,some body art displays-(tattoos), and so on...Hair color is not that far from the topic, considering how restricted the female members get to be about their choices-(usually long, dark...you know, in case maybe a Giselle part suddenly pops :thumbsup: ...)

#9 rg

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 06:41 PM

i would submit that one observer's yellow is another's platinum, esp. if the color was viewed and described under stage light in certain circumstances.
Arlene Croce wrote memorably sometime back of a male soviet dancer she much admired as 'another one of those soviet men with implausibly colored hair.' this was an aside, as noted, for a dancer whose DANCING she admired.
i'm sure however there were others, in the case of the dancer Croce was writing about - if memory serves it was Vyacheslav Gordeyev - who might have admired his hair color but not his dancing.
as noted above, i think it is important to remember that not every thinks ill of Somova, not by any means.
also, i doubt very much that gia kourlas would say 'platinum' if she didn't think that was the right word for her recollections.

#10 Cygnet

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 06:53 PM

I found this on youtube but one, they look considerably better than what I saw in NYC, and two the angle obscures her lurch when she comes off pointe. Still I don't see them as model turns . . .

Model fouettés consist of the working leg giving the illusion of a whipping (not kicking) motion. Fouettés aren't supposed to bounce either. She has very long legs, hyper extended knees and weak feet, so it's hard for her to complete the rotations and fully extend the working leg to create that whipping motion. By the time she fully extends her leg, it's time to begin the pirouette again. She barely gets through doubles and triples. I've seen her a few times in "Swan Lake" she can only just complete the standard singles -and these with the minimum of momentum. If you want to see exemplary fouettés on YouTube, input other dancers, especially Maximova's or Terekhova's Kitri.

Somova's appearances are unique precisely because they're attention getting in all the wrong ways. Likewise, they're "entertaining" for all the wrong reasons. She's the Maryinsky's newest Principal Dancer, and we're discussing technical survival issues and the other "incidentals" that make up her stage persona. And that's the point: These shouldn't be issues in light of her promotion. It's these incidentals and technicalities that are impossible to ignore or overlook, particularly in a performance. You can't miss them; they're so in your face. I agree with Natalia that it's surreal that not only her appearances are controversial, but her stage persona "package" is as well. She's allowed to go onstage without sanction re her appearance with carte blanche, and it's mums the word. Personally, I think we're eyewitnesses to an international classical ballet conspiracy (or) ponzi scam. Draw your own conclusions.

#11 vipa

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 07:11 PM

I tried to post this earlier but didn't succeed (I think), so forgive me if it shows up twice.

THe fouettes described (with the kick) are just the Russian way of doing fouettes - extending side instead of having the stirring motion. I'm surprised Kourlis doesn't know this. Not my preferred way of seeing fouettes but not surprising in a Russian trained dancer.

#12 aurora

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 08:20 PM

THe fouettes described (with the kick) are just the Russian way of doing fouettes - extending side instead of having the stirring motion. I'm surprised Kourlis doesn't know this. Not my preferred way of seeing fouettes but not surprising in a Russian trained dancer.


well, yes and no. First I agree it is surprising Kourlas doesn't know this, but to expand upon the subject a bit...

One it seems more typical of the Kirov dancers than the Bolshoi dancers. So perhaps it should be called the Kirov or Maryinsky version, not the Russian.

see Osipova:
at 7:30 (sorry I have seen her do better fouettes than these but it was the first I found)

or for a very different example, Ananiashvilli:

which is more kick, but still does have a degree of whipping motion.

furthermore, I do think Somova's lurching is distinctive from others, even within the Kirov. Yes the "Russian method" is more kick than "stir" but look at Tereshkina (who is the best technician of the Kirov dancers I saw in NYC):

at around 8:43. She most definitely does the "stir" variety (and they are lovely, despite the bad video quality)

or watch her in the don q fouettes (the same as I posted earlier for Somova)


big difference, and to me, much better!

#13 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 09:08 PM

Personally, I think we're the eyewitnesses of an international classical ballet conspiracy .

:clapping: :off topic: :clapping: :clapping: :dunno:

#14 Mashinka

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 02:19 AM

I would appreciate some background on Gia Kourlas, is this an established critic and above all is this a critic with working knowledge of past Kirov luminaries?

Russian dancers and their hair: Another universe as far as I'm concerned with both sexes constantly surprising me in the frequency and variations in hair colour. At one time having black hair was considered the balletic ideal, with Taglioni, Karsavina, Pavlova, Markova and Fonteyn all being brunettes. How time has changed.

Personally, I think we're the eyewitnesses of an international classical ballet conspiracy .


I'm beginning to think so too.

#15 Natalia

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 05:43 AM

I think that we could write an entire tome on Russian dancers' hair and the relative lack of upkeep. One of my very favorite, lovable male stars of the recent past, Andris Liepa, received a lot of heat during the 1986 Kennedy Center run for his two-toned mane. Irina Chistiakova (now Lopatkina's coach) sported a VERY lemony-yellow hair towards the end of her career. Even Somova's celebrated new coach, Terekhova, had trouble with "root alerts" when she changed to blonde in the 1980s.

Now let's turn to the dancing and the much-commented Somova foutees. I call them the Russian Can-Can, as in "I can! I can! I can! Look at me! Look at me!" My point is that there is a general bombast and crudeness to everything that she does. That's my -- many of us -- our problem with Alina Somova. General crudeness from the top of her rooted hair to her can-can feet.

More power to the esteemed critic, Gia Kourlas, for being able to see through the crudeness at some artistry. Kourlas is a very knowledgeable and esteemed critic. That we cannot deny. I hope to be able to see some of those glimmers this January, when I see Somova's Kitri at the Kennedy Center.


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