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Olga SmirnovaTalk about the young rising star of Russian ballet, 2011 Vaganova grad


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#46 Buddy

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 10:43 AM

For me, the gold standard for Odette/Odile is Nina Ananiashvili (you can see her on the DVD that was made when she was 29 years old, dancing with the State Ballet of Perm) -- these days it's Veronika Part.


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Yes to Veronika Part ! Based on consistency in five or six performances, perhaps the greatest Odette (and Odile) that I've ever seen.

From a different angle for a moment.

'I never thought I'd see the day' when I'd be watching someone performing Odette and someone else performing Carmen Suite with equal awe. I've been going back and forth between Olga Smirnova's magnificent Odette and a very segmented video clip, often disappearing behind the person sitting in front, of Oxana Skorik dancing Carmen.

Two Absolutely Marvelous Artists ![/size][/font]
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Added:

Oxana Skorik performing with Ilya Kuznetsov (the best characterization that I've seen him do) -- this is surely the most sensitive and poetic performance of Carmen Suite that I've ever seen.[/size][/font]

#47 Buddy

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Posted 18 May 2013 - 02:39 PM

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I guess of all the wonderful beauty that I see in the Odette duet there is one quality that I love very much. This would be the Dreamlike Flow that surrounds and weaves through the more animated and depthful expression (an expression that I find totally remarkable for her young age). There is so much more, such as beautifully sculpted and timed imagery, that I still can barely start to define it. Maybe it's better at times just to let it happen and take in the pure pleasure and absolute brilliance of it all. [/size][/font]

#48 Buddy

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Posted 19 May 2013 - 04:29 AM

This so reflects one of the things that I like very much about Olga Smirnova that I would like to post it again. It's a highly lovely and general definition of "Epaulment" from Clement Crisp.

"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."

[font=Helvetica][size=4]http://www.ft.com/in...l#axzz2K8RzOIHP[/size][/font]

(In fact this quote is taken from his article highly praising Olga Smirnova, but it's generalized significance I hope makes it acceptable for being posted here.)


[first sentence slightly reworded]

#49 Tiara

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 01:45 AM

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 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]

#50 angelica

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 04:36 AM


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 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 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.

#51 canbelto

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 06:01 AM

Don't think it's really fair to compare Smirnova, who just had her debut, with Part, who's been dancing the role for more than a decade. Part has had time to refine her portrayal. A lot of debuts of O/O tend to be on the "cold" side, IMO, with the dancers so concentrated on getting the steps and look right that they forget to tell a story.

I'd also add that the Bolshoi version of Swan Lake is very "cold." Grigorovich places an emphasis on Siegfried and Rothbart, and Odette/Odile are almost a fantasy who flick in and out of the ballet. Grigorovich even rearranges a lot of the music to fit his vision of Swan Lake.

#52 abatt

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 06:56 AM

One of the problems with You Tube is that everything a performer does ends up in the public domain for extensive analysis down to the smallest details. If Part's or Lopatkina's first outing as the lead in SL was available on youtube, I would bet that it probably did not look anywhere near as polished as it does today.

#53 Helene

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 08:37 AM

I have no problem with cold. Neither, from all accounts did Balanchine: his favorite dancer from his Mariinsky/school days, Gerdt, was also considered cold.

Cold is very different than stiff. One of my very favorites, Tereshkina, is a cool dancer -- some consider her cold -- but I don't find her stiff at all. It will be interesting to see what her dancing is like when she comes back from maternity leave, as becoming a mother has changed the dancing of many ballerinas.

#54 MakarovaFan

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 09:07 AM

Smirnova's Odette/Odile struck me as "cold" also. However, she's only 22 years old, possesses considerable technique and gorgeous port de bras/upper body movement. Watch her Nikiya Act I on You Tube and there it is. It's rare that a ballerina nails all the complexities of O/O on her first try. Let's give Smirnova time to grow and mature as an artist. She has the potential for greatness.

#55 Drew

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Posted 20 May 2013 - 03:25 PM

One of the problems with You Tube is that everything a performer does ends up in the public domain for extensive analysis down to the smallest details. If Part's or Lopatkina's first outing as the lead in SL was available on youtube, I would bet that it probably did not look anywhere near as polished as it does today.


Thank you. I feel very strongly about this aspect of YouTube. Of course I too watch it and start forming opinions and making judgments about dancers and even express some of those opinions and judgments online. But the You Tube experience of performances (often in excerpt) leads to all kinds of odd disproportions of analysis and comparison. And can never do justice to a live performance in any case.

#56 angelica

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Posted 22 May 2013 - 04:12 PM

Smirnova's Odette/Odile struck me as "cold" also. However, she's only 22 years old, possesses considerable technique and gorgeous port de bras/upper body movement. Watch her Nikiya Act I on You Tube and there it is. It's rare that a ballerina nails all the complexities of O/O on her first try. Let's give Smirnova time to grow and mature as an artist. She has the potential for greatness.

MakarovaFan, I did check out Smirnova's Nikiya, as you suggested, and I found it interesting and reassuring to see the difference in her use of the wrists and hands from the way she used them in Swan Lake. Now I'm thinking that someone (herself, a coach, a teacher?) suggested that in Swan Lake she use her wrists and hands as wings, which is perhaps why she breaks at the wrists all the time. Her Nikiya was beautiful. I loved the way she used her torso and her pliant back, and it is apparent that she can use her wrists and hands in other ways. Maybe she just needs to see herself (on YouTube) or have someone tell her that her wrists and hands don't need to be flapping every minute to convey that she's a swan.

#57 trieste

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Posted 23 May 2013 - 03:47 PM

I feel like everyone is saying different things about her O/O... I personally perceived it as a brilliant, mature first outing, without that undulating fluttering motion some dancers plaster across the choreography. And fast single fouettes! For me, many things to like. For others, many things to talk about. In any case, worth watching if it merits this much discussion.

#58 Clara

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 01:14 PM

Hello!

I've been watching smirnova in jewels, which is beautiful, is that her best role does anyone know?

#59 kbarber

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 07:05 AM

Lovely video portrait of Olga Smirnova here:

http://toursenlair.b...-ballerina.html



#60 BalletPerfection1

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Posted 10 August 2013 - 09:25 AM

What a lovely video portrait of Olga Smirnova!




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