I completely agree with you, and I also find this "break" in the wrists and sharp fingers very distracting - actually I found her arms generally, especially as Odile, to be stiff. She does have speed, great technique and brilliant turns, but I don't think she has any wonderful flow of movement. I found her Odette very cold and involving. She was more suited to Odile, but even here, she is aloof. It is interesting that she herself says, as quoted above, [font=helvetica, arial, sans-serif][size=4] "in Mariinsky theatre, my dance would be considered as more spiritual and refined, but Bolshoi audiences sometimes might judge it as cold." Actually, I feel many Mariinsky audience members would consider her cold also: this is my main criticism of her. I look at her and never can engage with her - she is not a warm, expressive dancer and not a natural actress, and so I cannot like her. [/size][/font]
I'm apparently alone in my opinion that while her technique is extraordinary, I found the angularity of her arms detracting from her Odette, especially the continuous 90 degree break at the wrists, which I found more appropriate in her Odile. For me, there was no vulnerability in her Odette portrayal--less hyperextension and more fluidity would have made me love her, but I can't.
I watched Smirnova's performance again and then watched a couple of others, including Evgenia Obratzova and Ekaternia Borchenko (whom a friend of mine recently saw live at the Mikhailovsky) and they were both more fluid in their movements, their arms and hands not at all angular. Moreover, they made eye contact with their partners repeatedly. I agree, Tiara, that Smirnova is very "cold." And that it isn't a question of Mariinksy v. Bolshoi, it is a question of quality of dancing.
It is interesting that the quote Buddy gives, "In ballet, épaulement denotes the dancer's ability to turn, bend and shape the placing of the trunk, shoulders, arms, neck and head to produce the subtlest contrasts and oppositions. In Italian art it is contrapposto, and this is what gives life, veracity and power to a drawn or sculpted position. In classical ballet it turns the academic pose into the beautiful, the fascinating" comes from an article praising Smirnova. In my view, artistic epaulement is something that develops over years of training, but is instinctive in some dancers and artificial in others. At the risk of repeating myself, Veronika Part gets it right--her epaulement seems inborn, natural, not affected--whereas with Smirnova I feel that she exaggerates it at the end of every pose, to achieve a purposeful effect that becomes mannered rather than fluid.