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Vaganova Today by Catherine Pawlickfascinating, well-written tome


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#16 Natalia

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 12:57 PM

.... But my big question is why, if so many respected coaches are against this trend, does Mariinsky encourage dancers to distort lines when displaying forced, ungainly extensions? ...


From what I've gathered in the book, the answer is that Mariinsky Ballet management -- the eternally "interim director" Yuri Fateev and his right-hand persons managing the company and making casting decisions, such as Ms Gumba -- demands it. Pawlick is far too diplomatic to say those two names outright...but she quotes the various personal coaches of dancers and Academy teachers (not always the same people, although a few Academy teachers do coach the pros). Pawlick and others DO mention that the pro dancers' schedules are crammed, so that there is precious little time to work with personal coaches on nuances of roles. Pawlick quotes some coaches explaining how many soloists are forced to sneak-in sessions with coaches who are not those officially "assigned" to them by Fateev & Gumba. Unlike the old days (since either Vasiyev or Fateev, not sure who), dancers cannot request an specific personal coach; I know that they could stick to a favorite coach during the Vinogradov era.

The main thing to remember in all of this: the coaches of the pros & the Academy teachers are very often working against the tastes (Balanchine/Forsythe/"modernity" Uber Alles) of Fateev. Please do not equate the bulk of the Vaganova & theater coaches with Fateev and his tiny circle. Dancers' schedules are crammed not just because of the many ballets performed & tours but also -- just hinted at by Pawlick -- for the purposely-devious desire to kill the 'old' Vaganova elegance for once and for all.

Perhaps Fateev thinks that he can make more money selling the Big Mac, instead of a meticulously-prepared elegant meal? On the Good News Front (and this is too recent to have made Pawlick's tome): Perhaps the recent "winds of change" in casting are a small hint of a "correction" to Big Mac Aesthetics?

#17 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 05 September 2011 - 01:26 PM

Dancers' schedules are crammed not just because of the many ballets performed & tours but also -- just hinted at by Pawlick -- for the purposely-devious desire to kill the 'old' Vaganova elegance for once and for all.


How awful. By a simple question just keeps revolving around my head every time we get back into this "line/distortion/ubber extension" topic. What about the individual dancer common sense...? Aren't there enough videos where the sad result of this trend can be viewed, reviewed and revealed in its complete awfulness...? Don't dancers know about the general consensus among the audience on this aspect via this kind of boards or comments on Youtube and the like...? I am certainly probably one of the few people who DOES measure a good Odile-(not only, but also)-by her fouettes and a good Aurora by her balances and a good Giselle by her sautés on pointe. They are certainly not everything, but they are part of the role's backbone. They are tough cookies for sure but there's no way to avoid them. You either do them or you're not prepared for the role if you can't. Period. That's how I think. I don't care how malignant and beautiful and supple and lush and artsy and so on and so forth an Odile can be...deliver EVERYTHING, fouettes included and then we'll talk. No halfway allowed. I think there's also a generalized lack of need to get back to this theory-(not that it is the absolute truth, but...)-but I believe that unless ballerinas are not allowed to take on a specific role when they are not really technically prepared for it we'll keep seeing disaster after disaster. Yes, very elongated, supple, model-like creatures perfect for Vogue photo shoots with Leibovitz for not belonging to the stage.

#18 Natalia

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Posted 06 September 2011 - 04:33 AM

... What about the individual dancer common sense...? Aren't there enough videos where the sad result of this trend can be viewed, reviewed and revealed in its complete awfulness...? Don't dancers know about the general consensus among the audience on this aspect via this kind of boards or comments on Youtube and the like...? ...


Cubanmiamiboy, most 'guilty' dancers are aware of shortcomings, which is why so many at the Mariinsky are seeking special coaching from teachers who know how to do it right. However, why would an improperly prepared dancer (such as Skorik in Swan Lake, who is basically a lovely dancer, much-heralded in the docu film about the Perm school) turn-down Fateev's offer to jump into a leading role...to see Miami Beach and headline a gala? Of course, she would not say, "Sorry Mr. Fateev, I don't want to dance Odette/Odile now" or "I cannot do the gala in Miami."

[By the way, Skorik has received negative criticism for other roles, such as Florine in SB or, recently in London, Dryad Queen in DQ. If she dances a poor Dryad, how on earth is she ready to dance O/O? But we digress, as this thread is about the book. Pawlik and those interviewed are not quoted bashing specific dancers but, rather, the general stylistic malaise.]


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