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Mariinsky under Fateyev

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Certainly the Bolshoi management show much more enterprise and dynamism and would have leapt at the opportunity to promote this lovely young dancer, as they did with Angelina Vorontseva and are now doing with Olga Smirnova. Yuri Fateyev it seems, is content to waste his opportunities, and cannot see talent when it is under his nose.

I'm not sure that everything is sweetness and light at the Bolshoi either, though audiences haven't spotted any rot ....yet. If Bolshoi casting is so good, why hasn't Chinara Alizade danced a leading role by now?

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Certainly the Bolshoi management show much more enterprise and dynamism and would have leapt at the opportunity to promote this lovely young dancer, as they did with Angelina Vorontseva and are now doing with Olga Smirnova. Yuri Fateyev it seems, is content to waste his opportunities, and cannot see talent when it is under his nose.

I'm not sure that everything is sweetness and light at the Bolshoi either, though audiences haven't spotted any rot ....yet. If Bolshoi casting is so good, why hasn't Chinara Alizade danced a leading role by now?

With regard to Chinara Alizade, she certainly has danced at least one leading role - I recall in November 2010 she danced Kitri in Don Quixote with Mikhail Lobukhin as her partner. This was not in Moscow however, but elsewhere in Russia, and I cannot remember where, but she definitely danced it. Moreover, Alizade has danced many good roles - for example, she danced peasant pdd in the Bolshoi movie version of Lunkina-Gudanov Giselle that was shown worldwide. Of course, everyone wants to see their own favourite dancers dance more - I too would like to see Alizade dance more roles - but at Mariinsky Theatre there are many supremely talented girls in the corps who deserve to be stars and who are completely overlooked and just stagnating, while others such as Oksana Skorik, are unfairly promoted.

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I know this is often a matter of taste, but despite all of the praise I've read of her, I've seen Alizade in a number of Demi- and Soloist roles where she's been paired with another dancer, and in every one I've preferred her partner.

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I know this is often a matter of taste, but despite all of the praise I've read of her, I've seen Alizade in a number of Demi- and Soloist roles where she's been paired with another dancer, and in every one I've preferred her partner.

Regardless of the general opinion on Chinara Alizade, the points I have been trying to make are primarily concerned with Mariinsky Theatre and its mismanagement by Yuri Fateyev.

In every ballet company, you can watch act 2 of Giselle and say that you like Moyna better than Zulma or vice-versa. There is always difference of opinion according to personal taste. Similarly, you can say that you prefer one of the 3 shades in Kingdom of the Shades or you can say that you prefer one of the 3 odalisques more than the others.

My point is this: unfortunately, with the bungling casting decisions of Fateyev, you can watch act 2 of Giselle and not only are there better girls in the corps than Moyna or Zulma, but there are better girls in the corps than Myrtha. This is a shameful situation. The same can be said about Kingdom of the Shades. In almost every performance of Bayadere, you can choose at least 3 girls from the corps who will be better than every shade that Fateyev has chosen and since he has no variety in casts, it is almost always the same girls, every time in those roles. What is so tragic about Bayadere, although every Nikiya is talented and worthy of the role of Nikiya, is that there are girls in the corps, better than some of the Nikyas, although all the Nikiyas are good. There is such an amazing depth of talent in the Mariinsky corps and yet Fateyev keeps using the lesser talents and depriving the true artists what they deserve and the world deserves to see. In fact, you can go throughout the whole repertoire and see this in all ballets where the power of Fateyev has made bad casting decisions, lazy decisions and decisions not in the best interests of the majority of his company members.

When it comes to choosing dancers, Yuri Fateyev is at kindergarten level, with no hope of progressing even as far as 1st grade. Unfortunately, Fateyev has corps girls deserving PHD degrees and he keeps them as university first year students.

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My point is this: unfortunately, with the bungling casting decisions of Fateyev, you can watch act 2 of Giselle and not only are there better girls in the corps than Moyna or Zulma, but there are better girls in the corps than Myrtha. This is a shameful situation. The same can be said about Kingdom of the Shades. In almost every performance of Bayadere, you can choose at least 3 girls from the corps who will be better than every shade that Fateyev has chosen and since he has no variety in casts, it is almost always the same girls, every time in those roles. What is so tragic about Bayadere, although every Nikiya is talented and worthy of the role of Nikiya, is that there are girls in the corps, better than some of the Nikyas, although all the Nikiyas are good. There is such an amazing depth of talent in the Mariinsky corps and yet Fateyev keeps using the lesser talents and depriving the true artists what they deserve and the world deserves to see. In fact, you can go throughout the whole repertoire and see this in all ballets where the power of Fateyev has made bad casting decisions, lazy decisions and decisions not in the best interests of the majority of his company members.

I think to be fair there's this certain sort of laziness in all major companies where there's a lot of talent but a rather rigid, politics-based casting system (which is basically every major ballet company). For instance the NYCB has arguably one of the most talented, deep pools of females right now, but one of the most major roles (the female solo in Agon) has basically been owned by Wendy Whelan for, I don't know, as long as I've watched the NYCB. I mean I like Wendy as much as the next person, but I'd love to see another ballerina take a crack at the Agon duet. Another example is Megan Fairchild -- she's a competent but rather unexciting dancer who is cast in a lion's share of the Balanchine "petit allegro" roles.

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Occasionally I run through my performance diaries from the '80's (when I started to stockpile programs), during which time I tried to see as many casts of everything that I could manage. My experience was:

In "Push Comes to Shove" in the early '80's, it was regularly cast with Baryshnikov or Radojevic, Tcherkassky or Kudo, and Susan Jaffe. Tcherkassky owned "Flower Festival of Genzano PDD." Merrill Ashley did all but one performance I saw of "Donizetti Variations" from 1982-1990. Suzanne Farrell did "Monumentum"/"Movements" from 1982-1986. Heather Watts or Maria Calegari and Bart Cook or Jock Soto danced 11 performances of the central couple in "Symphony in Three Movements" between 1983-9. Stacey Caddell did every performance I saw of "Steadfast Tin Soldier" from 1983-90. Merill Ashley and Heather Watts split the Diana Adams role in "Concerto Barocco" from 1983-8, and Watts did every "Bugaku" from 1983-92 and eight of ten Aria I's from "Stravinsky Violin Concerto" from 1984-90. (Karin von Aroldingen from the original cast did the first two.) Stephanie Saland did all but one Symphony Op. 21 and Heather Watts did all but one Concerto Op. 24 in "Episodes" from 1983-8. Patricia McBride did all but one "Sonatine" between 1984-9. Kyra Nichols danced all but one "Walpurgisnacht Ballet" from 1984-93. Heather Watts and Mel Tomlinson danced the "Agon" PDD in all but one performance between 1983-7. etc, etc. This doesn't even count roles that were danced by the dancers who created them, like McBride in the Intermezzo from "Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet," Watts in "Calcium Light Night," the entire cast of "Antique Epigraphs," Farrell in "Mozartiana," and so on.

The difference in a company that does primarily mixed rep, as Peter Boal reminds audiences here, is that there are far more Principal roles and opportunities in the average mixed rep program than in full-lengths. That doesn't guarantee that the wealth will be spread very far among the ballets that are performed, not counting periods where injury is the root cause.

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one of the most major roles (the female solo in Agon) has basically been owned by Wendy Whelan for, I don't know, as long as I've watched the NYCB. I mean I like Wendy as much as the next person, but I'd love to see another ballerina take a crack at the Agon duet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agon_(ballet)

According to this Wikipedia site, it only gives Agon casts for a fall tour in 2009 in Tokyo. It shows Wendy Whelan as first cast and Maria Kowroski as 2nd cast. So unless only first cast performed, I do not think Whelan had a monopoly. There is also a big difference between a company specializing in short ballets versus the Mariinsky Ballet that performs mainly full length ballets. No major classical company in the entire world, has only one Odette/Odile or only one Aurora or only one Giselle, etc.

Tiara's main complaint was not the lack of chances at principal roles, but lack of chances at soloist roles, which offer the opportunities for principal roles. Your statement on Agon applies to a prinicpal role,although not a full length ballet,and both dancers you named are principals, Whelan and Fairchild...

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There is no deeper pool of talent than the Mariinsky's - the Mariinsky currently has more corps de ballet members in its ranks than the whole of NYCB, every one of whom could walk into a soloist position anywhere in the world, and yet despite this Yuri Fateyev does not choose to use them. He has enough dancers at his disposal to be able to cast every ballet countless times over and yet his dancers sit demoralized at home waiting for the opportunity to dance. He is not a great choreographer, promoter of talent, or innovator himself, but a former dancer turned coach who should have never gone into ballet administration. He has neither the ability, nor the discernment nor the inclination to preserve the traditions of the Mariinsky, which should have been his primary goal, and which he should be ashamed to have failed in. His recent choice of ballets in which to showcase his dancers shows him to be veering even further from the classical repertoire in which the Mariinsky excels. I suggest that if he wants to work with dancers in a predominantly modern repertoire, instead of turning the Mariinsky into a third rate polyglot company, perhaps he would like to go and work for an overseas company himself, and leave the Mariinsky to recover from the wounds he has inflicted upon it? I hear the Seychelles Ballet Company has a vacancy

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There is no deeper pool of talent than the Mariinsky's - the Mariinsky currently has more corps de ballet members in its ranks than the whole of NYCB, every one of whom could walk into a soloist position anywhere in the world, and yet despite this Yuri Fateyev does not choose to use them.

That has more or less happened with certain dancers, for example Anton Lukovkin of ENB who has danced the leads in Giselle, Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, Afternoon of a Faune. Spectre de la Rose etc. And then you have dancers that went to the Vaganova School but weren't deemed good enough for the company e.g. Elena Glurjidze and Irina Kolesnikova.

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I saw a YouTube clip of Stepanova in Firebird, although I can't find it now. Just the short clip I saw was amazing. She is a corps member, and needs to be promoted fast. Certain performers are so extraordinary and time is fleeting that I think some should leap frog up the ranks instead of waiting their turn. When you know that there is someone like Stepanova ready and willing but you might have to sit through one of the performances by a dancer who is not ready for prime time it does frustrate people.

I understand that there are politics in casting, but there is at least one dancer that makes your jaw drop in a really bad way at the Mariinsky. You don't even know how it is possible. Then, there are some in the corps that make your jaw drop in a good way. It is one thing to have a situation where dancers are "okay" (decent) and getting ahead due to politics while others who are better get held back. It is another situation when there are dancers rising that are truly not ready even for a provincial company and they get ahead while extraordinary talent is held back. I think that is the frustration being voiced here.

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I too have seen Yulia Stepanova perform, and her Firebird was absolutely outstanding by any standard, showing superb technique and, in particular, her fabulous jump. She does have a unique fluidity to her movement, and is an instinctive actress, with extraordinarily beautiful arms and upper body. She dances mainly in the corps, although she has had a few solo roles, but she has such wonderful ports de bras and presence that she stands out on stage no matter what she does. I remember seeing her as Aegina in the Yacobson production of Spartacus back in 2010, where she set the stage on fire with her glamour and sensuality, and danced with an inborn musicality. I thought then that her beauty alone would be enough to guarantee full houses, and expected to see her given more leading roles straightaway, but this did not happen. I do not understand how Yuri Fateyev can have such a wonderfully giited ballerina in his corps de ballet and not be casting her right now in every one of the principal roles in the repertoire. It really is the final proof of his complete ineptitude that apparently he does not even recognize a future star when he sees one.

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Historically speaking, weren't the vast majority of dancers at the Mariinsky career corps members, just like at the Bolshoi, POB, RDB, with few if no chances for solo roles, regardless of their talent? The break-up of the Soviet Union was the first driver that gave all but dancers at the highest level leverage to move.

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Historically speaking, weren't the vast majority of dancers at the Mariinsky career corps members, just like at the Bolshoi, POB, RDB, with few if no chances for solo roles, regardless of their talent? The break-up of the Soviet Union was the first driver that gave all but dancers at the highest level leverage to move.

In fact, dancers like Komleva, Sizova, Maximova, Bessmertnova, Sorokina were dancing principal roles in the 1950s and early 1960s as teenagers and early 20 year olds, both at the Bolshoi and the Kirov. In the 60s, Vaganova student, Valentina Semyukova, danced Lilac Fairy at the Kirov with Asylmuratova's teacher, Zubkovsakaya dancing Kitri/Dulcinea, so during Soviet times, talented dancers were not trapped in the corps and were given opportunities for soloist and principal roles. Just ask Nina Ananiashvili, who graduated around 1981 in Soviet times. Also, more recently, Yulia Makhalina danced principal roles in the late 80s as a teenager and Larissa Lezhnina at age 19 or 20 was filmed in 1989 for the commercial video Sleeping Beauty.

Young dancers in the Soviet Union certainly were given principal roles, but under Fateyev, this does not happen - unless your name is Oksana Skorik.

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That wasn't my question, which was, weren't the majority of corps members career corps members, dancing third swan from the back, with no chance for solos after their graduation performances? In Soviet times, they couldn't leave and take those soloist and principal positions in other companies.

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Here is Yulia Stepanova's Aegina variation from Act 3 of Spartacus, 16th January 2011.

After this performance she did not dance a principal role again until her Firebird debut on July 14th, 2012. Stepanova is scheduled to dance Big Swan and Spanish Dance in Swan Lake in America in October, plainly an insult to a ballerina with so much talent, artistry and beauty, who is worthy of the principal role of Odette/Odile.

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I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who appreciate Stepanova. I'm her great fan since her graduation in 2009 and it pains me that three years later she's still in corps de ballet, having only two principal roles in her repertoire. Probably it would be better for her career if she was first American or any other foreigner in Mariinsky or a star of overly dramatised ballet school documentary because it's clear that great talent, acting skills, solid technique etc. is not enough for Yuri Fateyev.

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I saw the Mariinsky's Cinderella in Edinburgh yesterday, and here was another perfect example of Yuri Fateyev wasting opportunities. Oksana Marchuk, discussed earlier in this thread, featured twice - as one of the autumn season fairy attendants, and as one of the dancers in red and black two piece costume in the final act. She is one of those dancers who you just notice instantly every time they come on stage - she has such a wonderful radiant quality, exquisite flowing arms and is so beautiful: her smile lights up the whole stage. Every time I see her dance I think the same thing - why is she not being given principal roles? She should be dancing Aurora, Giselle and Juliet. Good though Osmolkina was as Cinderella - and she was only good - in my opinion Oksana Marchuk would have been outstanding and was just made for this ballet. She certainly has all the expressive qualities and beauty. She also has a light, clean technique, as seen in her lovely Effie in Sylphide, and wonderful lyricism - Cinderella would be such a perfect role for her. If only Yuri Fateyev could understand that the public wants to see new, young ballerinas such as Marchuk given opportunities to show off their star quality. Apparently he does like the name Oksana though, but he is choosing the wrong one to pitchfork up the company promotion ladder.

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Stepanova is indeed lovely but might be considered a bit 'large-ish in the torso' by 'Mariinsky Central Casting.' It's a shame, as she has a wonderful port-de-bras and projection. I agree about Marchuk but, again, she doesn't seem to have the look that 'Mariinsky Central Casting' seems to love (spindly and double jointed like rhythmic gymnasts). The fact that Marchuk projects and dances a lot like Obraztsova doesn't help her...she is too charismatic and competent. To cast her (or Stepanova) in major roles would make 'certain favored ones' look even more incompetent than they already are!

By the way, I totally agree with the thrust of this discussion...but y'all already knew that, didn't you? (wink) The casting policies of the current Mariinsky ballet administration are beyond belief. The absurdity of Shirinkina debuting a major ballerina role (Cinderella) at the opening night of the upcoming Kennedy Center run is just the latest madness; not that she doesn't have the ability to succeed but that is not the point.

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It seems rather unfair to Shirinkina to have her debut during an opening night--a kind of favoritism that could effectively hurt her if she needs some seasoning in the role. I hope she does do really well, as she definitely caught my eye the one time I saw her and she seems a natural 'Cinderella.' But yes, it's a bit odd.

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It is amazing that I got to be horrified by a certain Russian ballerina's Black Swan as I have never ever been before-(closing my eyes and lowering my head in disbelief)-way before knowing that she was the much talked about Skorik. There's definitely something wrong here.

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Stepanova is clearly talented, but bravissima to Kondaurova: what mesmerizing authority.

It seems rather unfair to Shirinkina to have her debut during an opening night--a kind of favoritism that could effectively hurt her if she needs some seasoning in the role. I hope she does do really well, as she definitely caught my eye the one time I saw her and she seems a natural 'Cinderella.' But yes, it's a bit odd.

They always need to sell tickets early in the week. People who want to see the Mariinsky on the weekend will go no matter whom is cast.

Shrinkina is an interesting choice for the opening night reviewers, since she's a dancer who has generated interest and isn't a dancer they've seen every tour, plus there's the distraction of "What do we think of Ratmansky?" and how has this production changed since the last time. If she gets middling reviews, I suspect they will also have a caveat about the production and the "sour" score.

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I can't quite put my finger on it, but Firebird is one of my least favorite ballets, and I have Vishneva's and Kondaurova's commercial recordings of the role and like them in it. But these clips of Stepanova's Firebird (thanks to those who posted them here) make me think I might finally understand why people like this ballet, if I see her in the complete ballet.

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