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Mariinsky under Fateyev


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#106 Helene

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 10:05 PM

That's true for a lot of them. On the other hand, Elisabeth Platel, who runs the POB school, and Asylmuratova, who runs the Vaganova Ballet Academy, both look as if they could step on stage tomorrow, at least from the last film documentaries in which I've seen them, and that's probably not a co-incidence. They could carry their lipstick in their collarbones.

There are also different standards for men and women.

#107 Birdsall

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 03:47 AM


The irony is that Fateyev looks like he needs to lose a lot of weight. I just saw him recently. I don't mean to be catty. I just find it crazy that an overweight person who doesn't seem to be able to control his food intake seems (according to people here) to demand that ballerinas be so thin. Again, I don't mean this to insult him. It just seems crazy when heavy people are telling fairly thin people that they need to lose weight.


The late Charles France of ABT wasn't svelte, either. If you look at coaching videos in Russia (and older ones from the Soviet Union), many of the older coaches, especially, are quite heavy, when they had been a lot thinner as dancers, even if they came from generations where proportion and balance, rather than thin-ness was prized. They don't need to be svelte to impart their knowledge, nor do they need to be svelte to administer a company.



I totally agree with what you say, except that if he is going around (as someone suggested) and telling people they have to be super skinny and if he is holding dancers back b/c they don't fit his idea of skinny (even if the rest of the world views the dancer as skinny) then I find it a bit hypocritical. I think leaders should set an example. If he is obsessed with dancers being skinny and states this publicly then I personally (and this is only a personal opinion) feel he should set an example and keep weight off himself and his criticism of dancers' weight would hold more water for me personally. But, yes, in theory, people can teach and be administrators of ballet without being skinny. I worked in public schools and teachers told kids not to smoke, but the kids would see them smoking near the dumpster before school and during their lunch. Personally, I don't agree with teaching in that way. I think if you hold a strong position publicly you should attempt to be beyond reproach.

#108 Tiara

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 06:00 AM



Also, selection for taller and skinnier females means selection for tall, cavalier-type male dancers,


How successful are they in achieving this? I often read complaints about a lack of adequate partners. Therefore, one can question the benefits of selection.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, selection is not what it was during communism. Many parents dreamed of their children dancing for the Kirov Ballet and obviously, many children felt the same way. The number of girls auditioning for the school has dropped and the number of boys has dropped substantially. Vaganova does not have as many students, particularly boys to choose from. There are still many girls trying out since many do get rejected, but sometimes, they do not not have enough boys audtioning, to make one full class, let alone two classes.
The desire to have tall girls with skinny legs is almost forcing Vaganova to take tall boys, but not enough boys, tall or short, are auditioning. They can weed out the current undesirable, not anorexic, but super talented girls, to invite the talentless, skinny girls with long legs. However, there are not enough boys trying out to allow many rejections. Anyone attending the auditions will verify what I have stated. However, despite this problem, favoring taller girls, requires taller boys and the desire to have skinny boys is producing boys with serious partnering problems and more in need of strong healthy food. Healthy food is much better, but Vaganova does not consider much healthy eating in their diet plans which is basically, the less food eaten, the better it is.

For those wondering why fewer girls and boys audition than in Soviet times, the answer is that under communism, there were few jobs that offered what the Kirov Ballet offered. Now there are so many well paying fields in business, that many parents think ballet is not financial rewarding enough.Probably the number of girls desiring to be ballerinas is the same, but more parents are opposed to ballet than during Soviet times. There will always be talented Russian ballet dancers. Look at all the great dancers born around World War II when so many children died, Komleva, Maximova, Sizova, Makarova, Bessmertnova, Sorokina, Soloviev., Nureyev was in another region, Vasiliev, Lavrovsky and Vladimirov. The talent is inside the Russians and Vaganova will continue to produce the wrtold's greatest dancers, but it is not easy now. however, around the time Vaganova died, the war had caused many deaths among the young and probably Vaganova ahd fewer dancers to choose from than today and look who came out in the late 1950s and 1960s.

Serious partnering problems are certainly much in evidence at the Mariinsky today, and must be as a result of the male physical type currently required. Amongst the principals, Ivanchenko is tall and thin, but a good partner - but even with this one virtue, he is still irredeemably boring to watch. Korsuntsev too is tall and strong, arguably the best partner at the Mariinsky, a fact that is not lost on his regular partner, Lopatkina. At this year's Raymonda she insisted he partner her despite his being injured, and he had to omit his variation and change the choreography in his coda so as not to have to jump on his bad leg. These two male dancers, now in their late 30s, predominate casting, largely due to their being the right "type". There are so many more talented dancers in the ranks below who should certainly be given many more of their roles.

Amongst the 1st soloists Ilya Kuznetsov is a great partner and the best actor-dancer in the Mariinsky yet he is given mainly character roles. Plainly his face or physique just does not fit the mould. Also, Andrei Batalov, the best virtuoso in the company, is never cast in principal roles. He is of average, or just below average, height and strongly built.

If one looks at the male dancers who are given dancing opportunities, the vogue for tall and skinny is apparent - Sergeev is an elegant and talented dancer, but too thin to be aesthetically pleasing, and the same goes for Konstantin Zverev. Neither of them is a natural partner. The extremely thin Sarafanov was never a strong partner while at the Mariinsky, and recently while partnering Irina Perren at the Mikhailovsky in Don Quixote, he failed on two two-handed lifts and did not even attempt the one-handed lifts, although a few days later he was successful in all his lifts with the smaller Novikova. And this is at principal level! Lower down the ranks at the Mariinsky the brilliant Filipp Stepin regularly has problems with partnering, as does the up and coming Alexei Popov. Corps de ballet boys regularly have partnering problems.

Another unfortunate circumstance is Fateyev's apparent inability to match dancers for size, so average size but slightly built male dancers are paired with ballerinas of the same height, who they have no chance of partnering efficiently. In the end though the whole problem with male dancers at the Mariinsky is a result of Fateyev's policy making. The selection process for boys at the Vaganova needs to be rethought as clearly they are choosing boys who are genetically designed to be thin, and not to carry sufficient muscle to be strong partners. However, the Vaganova is only providing graduate students of the type required by the Mariinsky so it is not to blame. The blame for that failure lies yet again with Yuri Fateyev.

#109 Mashinka

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 06:56 AM

You omit to mention Kolb, tall and an excellent partner.

#110 puppytreats

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 07:56 AM

Personally, I don't agree with teaching in that way. I think if you hold a strong position publicly you should attempt to be beyond reproach.


No human being is "beyond reproach".

#111 puppytreats

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 08:00 AM



Being lean is desirable, but, even beyond the question of capability to parter appropriately, is a skinny male aesthetically pleasing to most? I can't imagine selecting against someone like Roberto Bolle for aesthetic reasons.

#112 Helene

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 08:54 AM

I totally agree with what you say, except that if he is going around (as someone suggested) and telling people they have to be super skinny and if he is holding dancers back b/c they don't fit his idea of skinny (even if the rest of the world views the dancer as skinny) then I find it a bit hypocritical. I think leaders should set an example. If he is obsessed with dancers being skinny and states this publicly then I personally (and this is only a personal opinion) feel he should set an example and keep weight off himself and his criticism of dancers' weight would hold more water for me personally. But, yes, in theory, people can teach and be administrators of ballet without being skinny. I worked in public schools and teachers told kids not to smoke, but the kids would see them smoking near the dumpster before school and during their lunch. Personally, I don't agree with teaching in that way. I think if you hold a strong position publicly you should attempt to be beyond reproach.

I think there's a big difference between an administrator or a coach teaching an athlete or dancer what it means to be in "shape" to be successful in that pursuit or demanding that they be so, and your smoking example, where the health benefits are equally applicable to the teachers and students. Fateev doesn't have to go onstage. Lincoln Kirstein didn't have to be a twig to head School of American ballet. I wouldn't expect them to live the monkish, disciplined lives of athletes or dancers when their professions don't require it, because their expertise and duties are not dependent on it.

#113 Tiara

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 09:04 AM

Being lean is desirable, but, even beyond the question of capability to parter appropriately, is a skinny male aesthetically pleasing to most? I can't imagine selecting against someone like Roberto Bolle for aesthetic reasons.

Skinny males are certainly not aesthetically pleasing, and I think most would agree that neither are skinny females. Back in 1989 I went to visit my friend in New York to see the Kirov Sleeping Beauty. During the long curtain calls for Galina Mezentseva, two woman behind me said that they do not like looking at anorexic ballerinas. At that time, the only other Kirov ballerina who enters my mind as being comparably skinny to Mezentseva, was Elena Evteyeva. Now changes in body types would make Mezentseva's skinny appearance be about average, although she had a big bone structure. You could go through every ranking level at Mariinsky today and see many girls even skinnier than Mezentseva. Lopatkina has maybe the most similar body type with her large bone structure and Lopatkina is probably skinnier. If you see these ballerinas backstage at all levels from corps to principals it is shocking - their dresses literally hang off their bodies like there is nothing there. I think most ballet fans around the world do not like looking at anorexic looking ballerinas. However, people at Vaganova and Mariinsky and also some ballet critics and fans in SPB, will look at what the general public would call a skinny ballerina, and call her fat.

#114 Natalia

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 09:11 AM

....Fateev doesn't have to go onstage. ...


Even when he was on stage during his dancing career, he didn't have to be a svelte prince to dance his joker roles. He was shortish, plumpish and muscular. Nothing wrong with that as the Joker.

The point is that he is following the universal norm for a certain look and 'mold' in his dancers. Sadly, he has elevated (or inherited) a couple of extreme examples in Somova and Skorik, who seem to exist just for their look, rather than talent as artists (although I still refuse to dump Skorik in the same pot as Somova).

Tiara, you are joking when you state, above, that Ilya Kuznetsov's face and physique may not be up to par? Kuznetsov is gorgeous! Just because he excels as Von Rothbart or Tybalt doesn't mean that he isn't perfectly capable of dancing Romeo or Siegfried..and he HAS! He was a heavenly-handsome Siegfried when I saw him 12+ yrs ago in that role. He just ended up be the reliable demi-caractere Go-To-Heave-Ho guy, which is unfortunate.

#115 Tiara

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 09:41 AM


....Fateev doesn't have to go onstage. ...


Even when he was on stage during his dancing career, he didn't have to be a svelte prince to dance his joker roles. He was shortish, plumpish and muscular. Nothing wrong with that as the Joker.

The point is that he is following the universal norm for a certain look and 'mold' in his dancers. Sadly, he has elevated (or inherited) a couple of extreme examples in Somova and Skorik, who seem to exist just for their look, rather than talent as artists (although I still refuse to dump Skorik in the same pot as Somova).

Tiara, you are joking when you state, above, that Ilya Kuznetsov's face and physique may not be up to par? Kuznetsov is gorgeous! Just because he excels as Von Rothbart or Tybalt doesn't mean that he isn't perfectly capable of dancing Romeo or Siegfried..and he HAS! He was a heavenly-handsome Siegfried when I saw him 12+ yrs ago in that role. He just ended up be the reliable demi-caractere Go-To-Heave-Ho guy, which is unfortunate.

:-) I adore Ilya Kuznetsov! As I stated above, he is the greatest dancer-actor at the Mariinsky and, as far as I am concerned, is worthy of and should be dancing every principal role in the repertoire! He is the one of the few dancers at the Mariinsky who has the looks, the physique, the dancing, the acting, the presence and the intelligence to be able to use all his God-given attributes to illuminate every ballet as no-one else can. Does that answer you? :-)

#116 Natalia

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 09:45 AM

Yes, it does! Posted Image I just couldn't imagine anyone even thinking that Ilya K.'s face may not be considered princely material! The grotesque makeup of Von Rothbart masks a work of art. (wink)

#117 Birdsall

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 10:26 AM


I totally agree with what you say, except that if he is going around (as someone suggested) and telling people they have to be super skinny and if he is holding dancers back b/c they don't fit his idea of skinny (even if the rest of the world views the dancer as skinny) then I find it a bit hypocritical. I think leaders should set an example. If he is obsessed with dancers being skinny and states this publicly then I personally (and this is only a personal opinion) feel he should set an example and keep weight off himself and his criticism of dancers' weight would hold more water for me personally. But, yes, in theory, people can teach and be administrators of ballet without being skinny. I worked in public schools and teachers told kids not to smoke, but the kids would see them smoking near the dumpster before school and during their lunch. Personally, I don't agree with teaching in that way. I think if you hold a strong position publicly you should attempt to be beyond reproach.

I think there's a big difference between an administrator or a coach teaching an athlete or dancer what it means to be in "shape" to be successful in that pursuit or demanding that they be so, and your smoking example, where the health benefits are equally applicable to the teachers and students. Fateev doesn't have to go onstage. Lincoln Kirstein didn't have to be a twig to head School of American ballet. I wouldn't expect them to live the monkish, disciplined lives of athletes or dancers when their professions don't require it, because their expertise and duties are not dependent on it.



I agree basically with everything you say, but I think being overweight does hurt people's health, so everyone should strive to keep weight off hypothetically. For a while I was a Pilates instructor and I felt like a hypocrite at moments when I gained a little. I was always very critical of my weight, and always worrying about it back then. Now even though most people consider me a decent look for 45 years old my tiny Asian mother thinks I am absolutely obese, b/c I am not skin and bones like I was at 16 years old. When I taught Pilates I was constantly trying to keep my weight down, because teaching Pilates and telling people how to get the long, lean look makes more sense when the teachers are also lean. Part of me was so relieved once I quit (I was actually helping out a friend for a couple of years and was certified to teach it), because if I gained 5 lbs. I felt I did not look the part. But like you say, an administrator doesn't have to be lean. I just think someone who is vocally preaching the skinny, skinny, skinny element of ballet should look the part, but that is my personal opinion. If he simply tells people that being skinny helps their career as a statement that is reality, I would give him more slack, but from what someone else posted, it sounds like he really stresses it as a very important part, and I guess it is. But if that becomes a top thing he stresses, I just personally think he should also stress it with himself regardless if he goes on stage or not. If I owned a Pilates studio but never taught and just ran it, I would also try to keep my weight down a little better than I currently do. Of course, this is slightly different b/c you are trying to sell a "look" to get clients. In his situation he is not trying to sell anything, rather simply tell them the facts of the ballet world. So, yes, you are right.

He doesn't have to please me on this weight issue or do what I think people should do. I just think super skinniness is stressed for the women in ballet and I would rather see a dancer like Stepanova with a womanly figure than bean poles if it meant they would be healthier. If some are like bean poles as someone mentioned above simply by nature and healthy as "bean poles" that is fine too.

#118 puppytreats

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 12:56 PM


Being lean is desirable, but, even beyond the question of capability to parter appropriately, is a skinny male aesthetically pleasing to most? I can't imagine selecting against someone like Roberto Bolle for aesthetic reasons.

Skinny males are certainly not aesthetically pleasing, and I think most would agree that neither are skinny females. Back in 1989 I went to visit my friend in New York to see the Kirov Sleeping Beauty. During the long curtain calls for Galina Mezentseva, two woman behind me said that they do not like looking at anorexic ballerinas. At that time, the only other Kirov ballerina who enters my mind as being comparably skinny to Mezentseva, was Elena Evteyeva. Now changes in body types would make Mezentseva's skinny appearance be about average, although she had a big bone structure. You could go through every ranking level at Mariinsky today and see many girls even skinnier than Mezentseva. Lopatkina has maybe the most similar body type with her large bone structure and Lopatkina is probably skinnier. If you see these ballerinas backstage at all levels from corps to principals it is shocking - their dresses literally hang off their bodies like there is nothing there. I think most ballet fans around the world do not like looking at anorexic looking ballerinas. However, people at Vaganova and Mariinsky and also some ballet critics and fans in SPB, will look at what the general public would call a skinny ballerina, and call her fat.


Regarding women, I think maybe a generational issue may exist, in addition to the generally existing diversity of opinion. I certainly do not enjoy the aesthetics of larger, more fleshy or even more large boned female dancers. Occassionally, but very rarely, I will find a female dancer too thin and experience distaste. (I am thinking in particular of one NYCB female dancer from the Balanchine 2-part studio tape, who danced 4 Ts, I believe. [The series had Chaconne, Tsigane, 4Ts, Emeralds and Diamonds, and some others.] She had a body that reminded me of Laraine Newman.) I look at the shape and physique of Svetlana Zakharova as an inspiration.

#119 trieste

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Posted 09 September 2012 - 12:17 AM

I personally like the aesthetic the POB goes for. There could not be more difference between Myriam Ould-Braham and Marie Agnes Gillot, but both dance in the French style and both are well loved. Their dancers look healthy and athletic and...well, like there's not one correct physique to have at the company, so no one is clearly at a weight unnatural for them. They 'vive la difference' in physique and hammer the uniformity into style. I think this approach works quite well for companies with feeder schools.

#120 Alymer

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 01:17 AM

In this month's Dancing Times there is a short but interesting inteview with Yuri Fateyev. The interviewer is Professor Igor Stupnikov whose late wife was a soloist (?) with the Mariinsky and has been close to the company for many years. Some of the questions are quite tough; "..you have wasted in my opinion the dancers' energy on such short-lived pieces as Benjamin Millepied's Without, Emil Faski's Simple Things and Yuri Smekalov's Bolero." Or ".............rumour has it that (Vaganova Academy ) graduates are not eager to join the Mariinsky", and it seems to me that Fateyev is very defensive and not very convincing in his responses.


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