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Mariinsky under Fateyev


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#31 bianca

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 01:05 PM

I'm ITA with you re stagnant casting. It used to be that little swans and big swans was a showcase for promotional talent. It's become a one or two season assignment for some corps members and soloists that you've mentioned. For example, you're right that Elizaveta Cheprasova was hardly ever seen except as a cygnet - or as Masha in the Chemiakin "Nutcracker," so I can understand why she left.

She also must have been bored to death by dancing first shade variation in Bayadere. Three shades is another case of stagnant casting. Lately I can hardly remember different cast than Cheprasova, Selina, Vasnetsova/Skorik. Maybe once I had a chance to see Martynuk and Nikitina. I was always excited to see shades variation, now I'm bored even by Selina, though she's one of my favourites.

If we're talking about Mariinsky situation now I have to mention "open letter" which was posted on Russian website some months ago. It's quite long, Russian language can be problem but google translator seems to give quite intelligible translation.
http://npeterburg.ru/2012/raby-ne-my
It points many problems about casts, rehearsals and many other issues. It would be too long to write about everything, anyone who is interesting could read it. There was also good point, I don't remember if it was in this text or it was some comments I read on Russian message board, that there is one reason why Gergev needs ballet - of course it's money. Ballet makes much money, especially on tours but Gergev doesn't care about general shape of the company because there are people who will buy tickets no matter what, because they don't know and maybe they're not interested in problems inside the company. But of course it's very shortsighted policy, which in some years, if things don't change, would make Mariinsky second rate company.

#32 Helene

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Posted 21 August 2012 - 03:15 PM

About ballet rep, dancers in companies with mixed training, primarily neoclassical companies, often say that it's difficult on their bodies to mix rep, since the demands on them made are very different. I can't imagine what it's like for a company that is heavily, if not exclusively, based in training for a specific rep to keep changing back-and-forth.

To apply the opera rep model makes much less sense for ballet: while singers can change their training approach based on the role -- recent Seattle Opera Turandot Marcy Stonikas said she doesn't train Leonora in "Fidelio" and Turandot on the same day because the tessitura is different -- unless they are big stars in rep companies, while the roles make different demands on their voices, the hierarchy traditionally has not been as rigid in opera rep companies. In opera someone who sang Wotan -- or any other long, difficult role/one that carried an opera -- on one night might sing Pope Leo in "Atilla" or Pimen in "Boris Godunov" the next. This happens among younger dancers -- tonight's Swanhilde on Sunday afternoon might be next Friday's Swanhilde's-Friend-Who-Finds-The-Key, but it's rare for Principals in companies to take on smaller roles, even if it would be wise for them to be cast that way to preserve their health. No one would expect a soprano to sing Turandot, Violetta, Abigaille, Brunnhilde, and Donna Anna every night for a week. Singers who do one or two roles at a time have breaks between performances, and often schedule Mozart or another vocal-health-restoring composer among their engagements. Dancers are reliant on management to make those decisions for them, and it's often not pretty.

Mariinsky bass Evgeny Nikitin talked about this in the "Sacred Stage" documentary. He said that when he gets a contract in the West for one or two roles over a few months, it's like being on holiday, but when he's in his home theater, changing roles from night to night is what keeps his voice in shape. Dancers at the Mariinsky don't have the same luxury.

#33 Tiara

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 02:19 AM

The Berkeley Swan Lake casting kindly provided by alexaa1a provides yet another example of unimaginative casting by Yuri Fateyev.

The same four ballerinas are featured at every single performance for both big swans and little swans. This is ridiculous, when there are so many talented ballerinas who deserve a chance to be seen, and just smacks of laziness and unoriginality. Not only that, both Neapolitan and Hungarian also have the same ballerina for each performance - poor Lavrinenko will be tapping that tambourine in her sleep. Gonchar dances 4 of the 6 two swans performances ... WHY?

Also the same for every performance are the princesses - there are so many ballerinas in the corps who never get a chance and this is a role that could so easily be rotated amongst the corps members. I would even like to suggest that the princesses be given to the youngest and newest recruits to the corps de ballet, as a means of introducing them to the audience and giving them much needed stage experience. Foreign audiences who rarely see the Mariinsky would love to see its newest members, but they never get this chance. Yuri Fateyev should be taking pride in his company and taking this opportunity to show off its wealth and depth of talent instead of confining his casting to the same dancers time and time again.

I am particularly disturbed by the (mis)casting of Irina Golub. She is a First Soloist, and a talented, musical ballerina with many principal roles in her repertoire. Of late, she is being given fewer and fewer roles, and now she is cast as a little swan? This is actually an insult to a ballerina who should be dancing major roles and she must be completely demoralized. Mariinsky management should be ashamed of their treatment of this lovely ballerina.

I actually wonder if the problem is that Yuri Fateyev just cannot recognize real talent when he sees it, since there are so many ballerinas who never get a chance? Or is he just unable to take the advice of his assistants and the Mariinsky coaches? Furthermore, can he not see that touring is his chance to let the world see a vibrant company bursting with talent and he should actually be promoting all his young dancers and giving them opportunities to be seen? It really is mystifying. I suppose though, he must be congratulated on at least one thing: making US ballet press life easier, since they will be able to catch up on much needed sleep during the performances, secure in the knowledge that they won't have missed anyone new.

#34 Mashinka

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 03:59 AM

I am particularly disturbed by the (mis)casting of Irina Golub. She is a First Soloist, and a talented, musical ballerina with many principal roles in her repertoire. Of late, she is being given fewer and fewer roles, and now she is cast as a little swan? This is actually an insult to a ballerina who should be dancing major roles and she must be completely demoralized. Mariinsky management should be ashamed of their treatment of this lovely ballerina.


A very good example: she danced Juliet in London and was much admired by the hard-to-please ROH audience. Technically and artistically she is superior to certain dancers habitually given principal roles.

#35 Tiara

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 08:22 AM


I am particularly disturbed by the (mis)casting of Irina Golub. She is a First Soloist, and a talented, musical ballerina with many principal roles in her repertoire. Of late, she is being given fewer and fewer roles, and now she is cast as a little swan? This is actually an insult to a ballerina who should be dancing major roles and she must be completely demoralized. Mariinsky management should be ashamed of their treatment of this lovely ballerina.


A very good example: she danced Juliet in London and was much admired by the hard-to-please ROH audience. Technically and artistically she is superior to certain dancers habitually given principal roles.

Juliet is indeed a wonderful role for Golub's dramatic gifts and general artistry. If only she could dance it more frequently. However, not only does she dance little swans, but I have also seen her as Dance Instructor's Assistant in the horrible Ratmansky Cinderella (a ballet best forgotten), flower seller and friend of Kitri in Don Quixote, when she should be dancing Kitri herself, and other roles suitable only for a coryphee or corps de ballet dancer and certainly not a First Soloist. On the very rare occasion she is given a role worthy of her she is outstanding and quitie clearly deserving of more principal roles. I recently saw her Henriette in Raymonda, which was both technically and stylistically accomplished and highly charming, and as for her Carmen in the Concert Hall ... all I can say is she stalked the stage like a real sex-kitten in that gorgeous red costume, and absolutely smouldered as Carmen. I can only imagine her effect on the men in the audience! I do think that the fact that she even accepts these corps and coryphee level roles, that are so much below her obvious talent, shows how bad casting has become at the Mariinsky. It is as though she is grasping at straws and accepting any role in order to be able to perform. This is a complete disgrace. Apart from her technical prowess, she is highly musical, a wonderful actress and so very beautiful that just the sight of her on Mariinsky publicity material would probably sell tickets. I really wonder whether Yuri Fateyev in fact has some unofficial "Black List" - because that is the only reason I can think of for his continual misuse of this highly talented ballerina.

#36 Helene

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 09:48 AM

Golub is an example of the difference between ballet and opera rep casting: in an opera rep company, someone who sang the equivalent of Juliet one night could easily be cast as Little Swan the next.

#37 Cygnet

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 11:55 AM

The Berkeley Swan Lake casting kindly provided by alexaa1a provides yet another example of unimaginative casting by Yuri Fateyev. I actually wonder if the problem is that Yuri Fateyev just cannot recognize real talent when he sees it, since there are so many ballerinas who never get a chance? Or is he just unable to take the advice of his assistants and the Mariinsky coaches? Furthermore, can he not see that touring is his chance to let the world see a vibrant company bursting with talent and he should actually be promoting all his young dancers and giving them opportunities to be seen? It really is mystifying.


The principal casts for Orange County are status quo as well: http://scfta.org/hom...07&NavID=91

The best thing with this engagement - so far, (note the " * "), is that Tereshkina gets opening night. Unfortunately, the best active O/O in the company (Lopatkina) will not be on this tour. "Mystifying" you say? Look at the 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th evening casts. The newest Principal (Kondaurova), gets one performance - and it's brunch patrol (the matinee). She also gets the Berkeley matinee. At the OC, this 2006 Benois, 2008 Golden Sophit, 2010 Golden Mask, and 2011 Spirit of Dance award winning prima will perform just hours before you know who. Yes: Once again, it is she. The other Mlle. S. will also get two performances. IMO, neither one of them should have gotten more evening performances on the upcoming tour over Kondaurova in this ballet. If you compare Kondaurova with these two there's no comparison. The one shouldn't get the nod because of deficient seniority, rank and capability, and the other shouldn't because of deficient seniority and lack of ability. I don't think I need to spell out which 'one's' I mean. Kolegova is also getting two evening performances in Berkeley. What can one say? I'm just grateful that Kondaurova (and Kolegova) are being packed for this engagement at all.

Jayne wrote: " 'Well, which "dead wood" would you peel away? Which dancers would you promote?' "

Principal rank (women) - Nioradze & Makhalina. Promote Novikova, Osmolkina, Selina or Ivanova to fill their places. Lopatkina, Vishneva, (and if Fateev ever chooses to put her back in the game) - Pavlenko, are still in their prime.

Principal rank (men) - Zelensky is A.D. at the Stanislavsky in Moscow now. Before this appointment he was A.D. in Novosibirsk, making rare guest appearances in Petersburg. He doesn't do this now - at least not frequently enough to remain on the roster. One or more of the following gentlemen could flesh out the rank, take some of the pressure off Shklyarov and could be further developed to take Kolb and Korsuntsev's spots in a few years: Steppin, Zyuzin, Sergeev, Zverev, or Timofeyev. Askerov is new, and still an unknown quantity, but Fateev seems to be pushing him now. Batalov, alas, has been on the bench since the mid 90s and his time has sadly passed. The soloist ranks are top heavy and overloaded with a wealth of talent, as are the coryphee and corps ranks. This dilemma, and Fateev's seeming inability to develop in-house talent and address this issue has already been covered.

Re promotions in the Mariinsky: A woman must perform O/O in the Mariinsky Theatre to be eligible for promotion to principal. If you've performed it elsewhere and came from the outside, bringing the experience with you, you are allowed to do it. For example, in the past Tchyentchikova-Vazieva and Kunakova both came from Perm, did it there, and became Mariinsky stars. In recent years, Kolegova came from the Tkachine, Eifman and the Lithuanian company in Vilnius. She joined as a 1st soloist, and she did it. Matvienko was Principal at the Mikhailovsky, joined as a 1st soloist and she did it. 2nd soloist, Elena Yevseyeva came from the Mikhailovsky, and joined four years ago. She danced O/O there as well as Raymonda, Medora, Giselle, Aurora and Kitri: She hasn't been given a debut yet. One gets O/O only if The Management 1) Decides that you 'can' do it and that you have the technique, physique, temperament, are suited for it and they want you to do it; and 2) See point #1. Their idea of "emploi" is a huge factor here. Of course there have been a few exceptions where one becomes Principal without having done so - Vishneva for example. But she waited 10 years for her hometown debut. Obraztsova, Vishneva and Novikova made their debuts elsewhere. Each of them outsourced the role; but Vishneva and Novikova eventually got their Mariinsky debuts. Obraztsova made her debut at the Stan in Moscow, and moved on to become a Bolshoi Principal. Had she stayed, she most likely would still be a 1st Soloist, and still wouldn't be given her shot - regardless of the Moscow debut.

Now, it's not that hard and fast a rule for Siegfried for the men, but in general it's 'The Rule' for the women. So, to recap, a woman isn't eligible for promotion to principal without having completed a performance O/O in that opera house or on tour. They don't recognize that you have "done it," if you haven't done it with them. Golub has yet to make her debut as O/O, as well as Selina and many others who deserve their chance and have waited years for it. Time will tell whether they'll get their opportunity. However, even if one finally gets a debut, unless that person is highly favored by the management, even that is no guarantee that person will (ever?) get another performance, (i.e. Novikova and Osmolkina).

#38 Helene

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Posted 22 August 2012 - 05:10 PM

Almost all of the discussion has been around the women. What is his record on casting the men?

The last time I saw the Mariinsky was last summer, in "Anna Karenina" and "Little Humpbacked Horse," and from what I saw, the casting was superb. Of course, these were Ratmansky ballets, not the classic classics.

#39 Tiara

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 02:37 AM

As I see it, the main casting problem for the men is connected with the number of recent losses and missed opportunities. As a further sign of the disastrous effect of the Fateyev-regime, men have been leaving the sinking ship in droves. The rot probably started with the departure for management pastures new of supremely elegant danseur Andrian Fadeev - what a tragic loss he was. Mikhail Lobukhin suffered from the same fate as Evgenia Obraztsova in that he was never given the opportunities he should have been given and was forced to go to the Bolshoi to become a star. The brilliant virtuoso Sarafanov is now dancing all the principal roles at the Mikhailovsky and recently Matvienko has also left to take up a directorship elsewhere. So now all that is left at the top is a merry band of almost-pensioners - Ivanchenko, Korsuntsev and Kolb, plus Zelensky, who does not really count since he is almost never there. These get most of the prime roles - they are the easy option and mainly technically proficient, but hardly exciting to watch. I must make an exception for Korsuntsev who undoubtedly is one of the best partners in the company and deserves his status for that reason alone. Shklyarov alone of the principals has the bravura and glamour to make audiences sit up and take note. Recent graduates Lebedev and Strelkov who would have been recruited by any right-minded director were allowed to go to the Mikhailovsky. Both of these are outstanding virtuosos so why did Yuri Fateyev not snap them up instantly? Has he got something against male dancers in general?

One man who could have made all the difference is Andrei Batalov, an amazing virtuoso, actually in the same graduating class as Ivanchenko, but sadly denied all the opportunities of his classmate. I recently saw him at the Liepa gala, where his alasebesque entrance as Ali, and thrilling height of his jetes drew gasps from the audience. He also danced the Nutcracker pdd with touching elegance and beautiful soft, Vaganova port de bras. This man should have been a big star and is still capable of dancing all the principal roles - but he has never been allowed to do so. He could bring some much needed excitement into the ranks of male dancing - but Fateyev never casts him. It is a complete waste of talent and inexcusable.

Yuri Fateyev is guilty of unimaginative casting for men when he has a Second Soloist category just bursting at the seams with men who deserve to be promoted and dancing more roles. The supremely talented Andrey Ermakov, with his wonderful easy jumps is tall, handsome and a magnificent partner of both Lopatkina and Kondaurova. Why is he not promoted and given all the principal roles now? Filipp Stepin also has a wonderful, brilliant technique and recently was an outstanding James and Basilio - but he too needs to dance the danseur roles. Not a chance with Ivanchenko and Korsuntsev getting all the princes. And then there are Zyuzin and Timofeyev, who both deserve to be cast more often. In the corps there are also two exciting prospects - Popov, who made a distinguished debut as James last year, and Konstantin Ivkin, who probably has the best elevation and ballon in the company. There is just so much talent, but it is underused and not seen.

One man though who is certainly not underused is recent recruit Timur Askerov, who appears to be blazing like a death-star through the ranks of the Mariinsky, scattering rightful stars left, right and centre along with his partner-in-crime, Oksana Skorik. Having seen him dance on a number of occasions I am completely at a loss as to what Fateyev sees in this slightly clumsy, inexpressive dancer, whose arms and upper body in general leave much to be desired. Why Mr Fateyev brought in a dancer to propel to stardom is inexplicable when he has so much true Vaganova talent he could exploit. I find Askerov completely wooden and lacking in acting ability. I recently saw him in Bayadere and have to say that, to anyone who saw the exoticism and flair of Ruzimatov as Solor, seeing Askerov in this role was like going to the desert expecting to swept off one's feet by Sheikh Omar Sharif and finding he had sent his teenaged eunuch along to do the job.

#40 Mashinka

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 03:03 AM

I find Askerov completely wooden and lacking in acting ability. I recently saw him in Bayadere and have to say that, to anyone who saw the exoticism and flair of Ruzimatov as Solor, seeing Askerov in this role was like going to the desert expecting to swept off one's feet by Sheikh Omar Sharif and finding he had sent his teenaged eunuch along to do the job.


You have a way with words Tiara (lol)

Andrei Merkuriev also defected to the Bolshoi and his career has really blossomed there. Fateev has neglected the wonderful Vassily Scherbakov just as Vaziev did, to me that's a criminal act.

#41 YID

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 09:28 AM

I am completely at a loss as to what Fateyev sees in this slightly clumsy, inexpressive dancer, whose arms and upper body in general leave much to be desired. Why Mr Fateyev brought in a dancer to propel to stardom is inexplicable when he has so much true Vaganova talent he could exploit.

[size=3]... the word on Russian speaking forums about Askerov is that his "parentage is of prime weight" for his multiple appearances (azerbaidzhan's (in this case) oligarchs have long hands and vast wallets). also casting on tours - for every major appearance on stage there's extra cash bonus to dancers, so, monetary favorism plays its role in casting decisions - sad, very sad......[/size]

#42 Helene

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 11:10 AM

I didn't realize that Merkuriev came from the Mariinsky. I loved him in "Le Corsaire" when the Bolshoi brought it to DC.

#43 Cygnet

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Posted 23 August 2012 - 12:51 PM

I didn't realize that Merkuriev came from the Mariinsky. I loved him in "Le Corsaire" when the Bolshoi brought it to DC.


Andrei left during Vaziev's tenure. At that time Vaziev actively recruited outsiders to flesh out the male ranks, because the Academy hadn't graduated very many promising young men who could immediately be placed center stage to partner the primas. What Vaziev tried to do was make instant stars who went straight from the Academy to leading roles and principal status. In this he was successful with Diana Vishneva and Svetlana Zakharova. However, when Zakharova left for the Bolshoi, he focused on trying to triplicate these successes with Alina Somova. Prior to Zakharova's departure, the company had already lost Dmitri Semionov *(Polina's brother), and Natalia Sologub among others.

Like Andrei, Sarafanov was also one of the outside recruits. He came from Kiev and joined the Mariinsky in 2002. It would be interesting to also note that another transfer to the Bolshoi - Misha Lobhukin graduated from Vaganova Academy in 2002 the same year that Sarafanov was hired. He was homegrown. But, like Andrei, Misha also toiled in supporting roles for years before leaving for Moscow. During this time it was Sarafanov who got the Principal nod, even though other men were no less talented or deserving of recognition.

Andrei was trained in Ufa and after he graduated in 1996, he started in Ufa's Komi Republic Ballet. In 1997 he came to Petersburg and became a leading member of the Mikhailovsky, (the Mussorgsky pre-Vladimir Kehkman), for three years, before joining the Mariinsky in 2001. In 2000 he won 2nd prize in the Perm Arabesque Competition, and 2nd prize at the 2001 Kazan International Competition of Young Ballet Dancers. By the time he came to the Mariinsky, he wasn't without chops or principal experience. He won the 2005 Golden Mask. When that didn't move him on the game board, he joined the Bolshoi in 2006.

#44 Tiara

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 01:04 AM

Sarafanov is one of the most brilliant virtuoso dancers in the world today and fully deserved his principal status at the Mariinsky: his departure was a tragic loss for the company. However, his arrival had one other disastrous consequence for Mariinsky ballerinas - his wife, Nadezhda Gonchar, was recruited along with him, in what can only be called a two for the price of one deal, when clearly this Kiev trained ballerina in no way justified her contract. She is now a Second Soloist, yet her arms and upper body are vastly inferior to those of the Vaganova trained ballerinas in the ranks below her, and her technique is also generally deficient, yet she is evidently on Fateyev's Favoured List since she is cast so much - at the Berkeley Swan Lakes she dances 4 of the 6 Two Swans and 3 of the 6 pas de trois. This is another example of not only unimaginative, repetitative casting but also favoritism, and why should a dancer such as her be favoured over so many other talented ballerinas? I recently saw Gonchar's debut as Clemence in the Lopatkina/Korsuntsev Raymonda. Clemence has one of the most difficult adagio solos in the ballerina repertoire, and Gonchar's performance was so full of technical errors and lacking in fluidity generally that it was actually embarrassing to watch: she is not an adagio ballerina. Any corps de ballet dancer or coryphee would have done a better job and have been delighted to have been given the opportunity. I really wonder what is going through Yuri Fateyev's head when he makes these decisions, but the answer can only be ... very little.

#45 Mashinka

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 03:28 AM

Sarafanov is one of the most brilliant virtuoso dancers in the world today and fully deserved his principal status at the Mariinsky: his departure was a tragic loss for the company. However, his arrival had one other disastrous consequence for Mariinsky ballerinas - his wife, Nadezhda Gonchar, was recruited along with him, in what can only be called a two for the price of one deal, when clearly this Kiev trained ballerina in no way justified her contract. She is now a Second Soloist, yet her arms and upper body are vastly inferior to those of the Vaganova trained ballerinas in the ranks below her, and her technique is also generaly deficient, yet she is evidently on Fateyev's Favoured List since she is cast so much - at the Berkeley Swan Lakes she dances 4 of the 6 Two Swans and 3 of the 6 pas de trois. This is another example of not only unimaginative, repetitative casting but also favoritism, and why should a dancer such as her be favoured over so many other talented ballerinas? I recently saw Gonchar's debut as Clemence in the Lopatkina/Korsuntsev Raymonda. Clemence has one of the most difficult adagio solos in the ballerina repertoire, and Gonchar's performance was so full of technical errors and lacking in fluidity generally that it was actually embarrassing to watch: she is not an adagio ballerina. Any corps de ballet dancer or coryphee would have done a better job and have been delighted to have been given the opportunity. I really wonder what is going through Yuri Fateyev's head when he makes these decisions, but the answer can only be ... very little.


Are you sure about that? I was under the impression that Sarafanov is married to Novikova.


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