Natalia

2012/2013 Mariinsky Ballet Season: General News, etc.

356 posts in this topic

Where does the medium lie though? I'm pretty sure that the person who posted the entire video but redacted the fall was trying to be fair. I have previously posted video of a televised performance in which Nina A fell on her hands and knees but also cut that part in the middle because I thought it would be mean-spirited to include it. If you're going to judge a performance, you'd do it on the rest of it, or else it all becomes about the fall

And I don't think (again!) that KK should be doing Kitri, but she still deserved to be judged on more than whether or not she fell down. I saw Makarova fall during fouettes in Swan Lake, and before getting up and continuing, she looked at the audience and shrugged her shoulders. I saw Nina A fall during Raymonda and Swan Lake. I saw Eleanor d'Antuono fall during Etudes. I saw Susan Jaffe fall in Ballet Imperial. So is it about the fall or the rest?

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Where does the medium lie though? I'm pretty sure that the person who posted the entire video but redacted the fall was trying to be fair. I have previously posted video of a televised performance in which Nina A fell on her hands and knees but also cut that part in the middle because I thought it would be mean-spirited to include it. If you're going to judge a performance, you'd do it on the rest of it, or else it all becomes about the fall

And I don't think (again!) that KK should be doing Kitri, but she still deserved to be judged on more than whether or not she fell down. I saw Makarova fall during fouettes in Swan Lake, and before getting up and continuing, she looked at the audience and shrugged her shoulders. I saw Nina A fall during Raymonda and Swan Lake. I saw Eleanor d'Antuono fall during Etudes. I saw Susan Jaffe fall in Ballet Imperial. So is it about the fall or the rest?

In answer to your question, this is why I wrote above, This disastrous slip-up is bad enough, but when one allies it with Kampa's other shortfalls - her lack of fluidity, her stiff arms and upper body, her lack of expression and indeed air of ill-ease every time she steps on the stage, any ballet lover must surely say "Enough! Where are the true Mariinsky ballerinas?"

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But my question still has to be, judge her not because of the fall, because falling is not in itself an indicator of any shortcoming. If she has faults or virtues, the falling is not the indicator of them because if it were, ballerinas of the first caliber would not do it. In other words it's not properly allied to her other shortcomings in this case, whatever they may be. And she deserves respect regardless, just as anyone does.

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In answer to your question, this is why I wrote above, This disastrous slip-up is bad enough, but when one allies it with Kampa's other shortfalls - her lack of fluidity, her stiff arms and upper body, her lack of expression and indeed air of ill-ease every time she steps on the stage, any ballet lover must surely say "Enough! Where are the true Mariinsky ballerinas?"

agree 100%. It was not about JUST a slip, it's a slip ALONG WITH OTHER non-Mariinsky ballerina exhibits ("her lack of fluidity, her stiff arms and upper body, her lack of expression and indeed air of ill-ease every time") while there are PLENTY talented balerinas "on the ignored bench".

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If it were about the rest of it, there would be no need to post a doctored video of the fall to YouTube. The rest of the performance on its own would suffice to show her virtues or lack of them. If the point of posting the fall on the fouettes was to say, "In case you were blind and couldn't see how bad she is from the whole video, here's what was cut to make her look good," there would have been this comment on the video, and the undoctored version of the fall would have been enough. A response to that comment could be similar to Mme. Hermine's: the fall was edited out of respect, and there's a whole performance to judge.

Instead, the video is a crude attempt to reduce a dancer to the lowest common denominator, but that's what desperation will bring. As it turns out, comment is necessary.

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In answer to your question, this is why I wrote above, This disastrous slip-up is bad enough, but when one allies it with Kampa's other shortfalls - her lack of fluidity, her stiff arms and upper body, her lack of expression and indeed air of ill-ease every time she steps on the stage, any ballet lover must surely say "Enough! Where are the true Mariinsky ballerinas?"

agree 100%. It was not about JUST a slip, it's a slip ALONG WITH OTHER non-Mariinsky ballerina exhibits ("her lack of fluidity, her stiff arms and upper body, her lack of expression and indeed air of ill-ease every time") while there are PLENTY talented balerinas "on the ignored bench".

If Kenan's overall technique isn't reliable, and if she can't deliver a coherent and competent performance in a leading role she need not be on the Mariinsky stage. Period. That's harsh but that's the truth. Consider this, when she takes that stage, she takes the U.S.A. onstage with her. This is how the Russians and her Mariinsky colleagues look at her. That's also harsh but that's the truth as well. I have seen her IRL in the Mariinsky's ensemble and in demi solo work. Her dancing hasn't really been representative, nor is she representative of the very best that American ballet has to offer. She may have been Fateev's "answer" to Hallberg being hired at the Bolshoi, but David (using him as an example) is an established Principal and international star.

IMO the Mariinsky Ballet is in just as much bad shape as the Bolshoi, but it is the lack of competent artistic direction that's the issue at the Mariinsky, not felonious activites. Several people mentioned cruelty. Let's think about that for a moment, and put that in context with what's been going on in the Mariinsky to date. It's cruel to reduce and subject superior (and lower) ranked dancers to schlepping behind this kind of il-preparedness and lack of development. It was cruel to throw Kampa (and others who have been thoroughly scrutinized and discussed over the years on this site) to the lions in the first place. Perhaps youtube clips should be banned on BT since one person's nectar is another person's poison. That's just a suggestion, but I don't think that would be considered PC.

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Right on, Tiara, YID, and Cygnet! Here is the true 'doctored' video - the one that eliminates the 'oopsie' at about the 9.56 mark, then fades from her initial fouettes into Ermakov's pirouettes a la seconde:

As you see, Kampa is seriously lacking in the style, finesse and everything else that is not as obvious as 'The Big Flop.' (Furthermore, Ermakov deserves a prize for partnering such a tall, big-boned gal.) As Tiara states above, "lack of fluidity, her stiff arms and upper body, her lack of expression and indeed air of ill-ease every time she steps on the stage..." is seen in every YouTube clip of KK during the past 10 months, demi-solo or solo role...even as one of 10 behind a Raymonda. Such weak qualities are unacceptable for any professional ballet company, let alone the grand Mariinsky! And if not she...then Skorik? Who else?

Also, don't forget how she arrived at the Mariinsky company, via a special contract, with special sponsors and even a reality-TV project in the works and a documentary reality film. Heck, she even gets a special 'bio page' on the Mariinsky website, with a Schiavone Glamour-Pose Shot instead of the normal head shot that all other dancers post! 'Reality' should be that - Reality....especially when marketeers try to gloss-over reality.

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The PC thing would be to ban YouTube videos, but it's not going to happen.

As far as Kampa, Skorik, Somova, etc. are concerned, they are dancers who are poison to some and ambrosia to others. We exist to have discussion about classical ballet, and these dancers are cast and ranked by an institution that puts them forth for public discussion. The value of the discussion is diminished when the same bludgeons are used repeatedly, because, it's not as if everyone didn't hear it the first, second, or third time, and opinions differ.

The Russian audience might think Kampa is representative of dancing in the US, and if that makes them feel better, there's no law against being insular. It might be comforting and provide a distraction from what is happening with the vast majority of the company. From an insular Western perspective, what I find interesting is how the second companies are getting respect and prominence for what they're doing on their own terms, partly from the perception that the Mariinsky isn't what it used to be.

As far as Kampa having a special contract, legally, all foreign dancers have to, and it's a given. The Mariinsky had every right and opportunity to Just Say No.

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Here is a link referencing the reality docum in the works (try not to gag too much!):

http://washingtonwes...nan-kampa-story

Corps members' bios are shown only when they appear in soloist roles, shown in the playbill section. So here is Kampa's bio, with Glam Shot:

http://www.mariinsky.ru/en/company/ballet_mt_women/kampa

Compare with the normal bio that everybody else in the company has, in this case another corps member who occasionally performs solo roles, Alisa Sodoleva, we see the normal portrait:

http://www.mariinsky.ru/en/company/ballet_mt_women/sodoleva/

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Here is a link referencing the reality docum in the works (try not to gag too much!):

http://washingtonwes...nan-kampa-story

Corps members' bios are shown only when they appear in soloist roles, shown in the playbill section. So here is Kampa's bio, with Glam Shot:

http://www.mariinsky..._mt_women/kampa

Compare with the normal bio that everybody else in the company has, in this case another corps member who occasionally performs solo roles, Alisa Sodoleva, we see the normal portrait:

http://www.mariinsky...women/sodoleva/

Damning indeed!!!!!!!!

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The documentary description is rather tame as these things go, and I think the shot of Sodoleva is pretty glamourous. It's not as if Sodoleva were given a grainy 2x1 black and white photo, while Kampa was given a full page spread.

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I will reiterate, though; her fall is not the grave business it's being made out to be. She did the same fouettes at least twice before on the Mariinsky stage pretty darned well. But I would never call that fall the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, because in and of itself, that's not what it is. I'm not saying she hasn't got faults, and I don't think too much of the publicity method(s) the maker of the film referred to above used. But I still think she deserves a considered amount of respect even if I don't think she should have had the part(s) she has had. And it hasn't got anything to do, IMO, with falling down or not falling down.

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Consider these publicity antics in comparison to all of the FAR MORE DESERVING corps ladies in the company. Sodoleva's sweet pic is nothing in the realm of a Schiavone Glamour-puss shot as Fateev allowed for KK's bio....one of several Schiavone sexed-up shots of Kampa out on the internet, reminiscent of glam posters of Anastasia Volochkova a few years ago - YUK. We're talking about art here.

Mme Hermine - You're right, the Big Flop alone shouldn't represent KK's career...but, oh, how long-time Mariinsky watchers have been waiting for this one, in the light of the way she's been cast all season.

BRAVO to Sergei Filin at the Bolshoi, who accepted another American, Joy Womack, as a true corps de ballet member, with no ulterior motive to push her into top classical roles within her first year in the troupe! (Joy, IMO, is the superior talent among the two Americans.) That's how it should have been done by Fateev with Kampa at the Mariinsky.

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I think the Kampa shot is rather benign.

I think that there's lots that Fadeev could and should have done differently.

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I think that there's lots that Fadeev could and should have done differently.

...and kampa too. Why insisting so much when one is obviously unprepared...? Why agreeing to be the poster child for the deterioration of such a venerable institution...? Why keep rubbing in people's faces the obvious, unfair reality...?

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How is she so obviously unprepared? She went to the school for a few years, she danced with Boston for a few years, and she was made an offer. As far as I know, she has a Mariinsky coach. How many people would turn down a dream offer? Should Somova have said, "No, I'm sorry, I know you want to give me Odette as a teenager, but, no thanks, I'll stay in third row of the corps"? It's not like Kampa was given a Principal contract and the first HD broadcast after she joined.

It's the AD's and administration who are responsible for approaching her, making her an acceptable offer, and casting her.

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How is she so obviously unprepared? She went to the school for a few years, she danced with Boston for a few years, and she was made an offer. As far as I know, she has a Mariinsky coach. How many people would turn down a dream offer? Should Somova have said, "No, I'm sorry, I know you want to give me Odette as a teenager, but, no thanks, I'll stay in third row of the corps"? It's not like Kampa was given a Principal contract and the first HD broadcast after she joined.

It's the AD's and administration who are responsible for approaching her, making her an acceptable offer, and casting her.

Being "prepared" for a role and actually being able to perform it are two different things. As far as I can see, Keenan Kampa could be coached all year for a role and would still not look like a Mariinsky ballerina. She does not have the expressive use of the upper body, the fluidity and beautiful arms that come naturally to a girl who has had the full Vaganova training. Kampa has a thin veneer of Vaganova training, but that is all: put simply, she just does not have what it takes.

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Either Mariinsky management believes she has what it takes -- and it's definition of "It" might differ from yours, mine, different Mariinsky dancers and coaches, etc. -- just as we differ on Somova's and Skorik's virtues, and as I differ from most people's on Lopatkina's -- or it has a reason for setting Kampa up. Occam's Razor suggests the former.

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Either Mariinsky management believes she has what it takes -- and it's definition of "It" might differ from yours, mine, different Mariinsky dancers and coaches, etc. -- just as we differ on Somova's and Skorik's virtues, and as I differ from most people's on Lopatkina's -- or it has a reason for setting Kampa up. Occam's Razor suggests the former.

I believe Mariinsky does have a reason for giving Kampa so much exposure and this was discussed by Natalia further up the thread. Kampa was brought in "with special sponsors and even a reality-TV project in the works and a documentary reality film. " Clearly any subject of any tv project or documentary reality film would need to be given roles to warrant this type of exposure, regardless of how fit she was or wasn't to dance them, in the same way that any company sponsoring an individual expects that individual to be seen prominently.

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Why should the Mariinsky care so much about an English-language documentary from foreign-born producers?

Even if they did, they didn't need to give her anything: it's a rare documentary in which everything goes off swimmingly for the hero.

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All I will say is that the Mariinsky ballerinas have a LONG history of "sponsors" and I doubt Kampa is the only one who is being "sponsored" (as unsavory as these allegations are). This goes back to Mathilde Kschessinskaya's royal "sponsors." There's lots of backstage gossip in any large company but I do find the youtube vendetta posters quite cruel, especially as the videotape that was highlighted is clearly spliced together at 0:19.

Anyway, if anything is responsible for the promotion of Keenan Kampa, it's the fact that the Vaganova in recent years has been accepting more and more foreign students to whom they can charge a hefty tuition.

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They and the Bolshoi, which does the same, haven't invited everyone who's been at the school into the company, though. From what I've read so far, it's also a situation like when women were first introduced into men-only colleges in the early '70's: the first women were transfers and only spent part of their degree studies there. At the Bolshoi school, at least, the MacKay brothers joined quite young, and most of their ballet training has been/will be there.

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Should Somova have said, "No, I'm sorry, I know you want to give me Odette as a teenager, but, no thanks, I'll stay in third row of the corps"?

I still believe the artist has also a share on this type of situation. Ballet is permeated with stories of dancers declining high ranking positions in order to learn more or to be fair to themselves and to the audiences. The clip I just recently posted on Alonso's story shows a similar situation when Massine offered the young ballerina a Principal position with the BRMC which she declined in favor of staying back in the ranks at BT, which she eventually escalated. This is one story I remember from the top of my head, but I'm sure there are many others out there, so yes...she should had declined and wait, instead of choosing being hunted for life as the dancer who was infamously being wrongly promoted ahead of time.

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Why should the Mariinsky care so much about an English-language documentary from foreign-born producers?

.....

$$$$$$$ makes the world go 'round, the world go 'round....(ca-ching!) $ponsor$ pay - dancer gets whatever role the sponsor wants the dancer to have. Whoever gets the ca$h doesn't give a hoot about what happens after the deal is made, doc or no doc.

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Back form St. Petersburg where I saw Sleeping Beauty, The Tale of Tsar Saltan (opera), Carmen Suite/Symphony in C, and Raymonda. I also managed to a get a last minute ticket to a ballet gala at the Hermitage Theatre and Viktor Lebedev made that sort of cheesy touristy show worth it!

I will go in more depth, but I literally arrived home late last night and just woke up sick.

Sleeping Beauty: seeing the prologue fairies come out with what I call their "seaweed ocean flowing arms" in person was a dream come true. It was magical. Anastasia Kolegova was terrific! To me her personality has the Lopatkina imperial hauteur without the coldness.

Carmen Suite: I think this might be Kondaurova's best role. She is spicy and bitchy in this role more than others I have seen. I might be in the minority but I think she is better at modern roles.

Symphony in C: wonderful debut by Batoeva.....she is a GREAT dancer. Lopatkina was Lopatkina (cold and regal) which works for the 2nd movement. I like Lopatkina, but I have come to the conclusion she is now The Diva Lopatkina in most everything she does now. Yevseyeva was very good in the third movement. Gonchar danced in the last.

Raymonda: I went thinking Shirinkina was all wrong for the role. She is petite, has a very sweet "Masha in Nutcracker" persona, etc. But she did a lot of extra things like entrechats in the 2nd act variation and during the final act coda she came out and balanced on one leg for quite a while before the music started. I could tell she prepared this role with care and worked very hard and won me over. I think she had a very slight stumble in the first act, but overall she was lovely. I think she lacks the gravitas that the final variation requires (or maybe that I personally like to see), but I actually was won over by her.

The ballet gala at the Hermitage seems like something more for tourists (bits and pieces from famous ballets and mostly unknown dancers....although I was a tourist, so why not?), but Viktor Lebedev astounded me not only with his elevation but I never saw such deep cambres!!! I want to see more of him!

I was an opera lover way before I became a ballet lover, so I could not pass up a chance to see Rimsky Korsakov's The Tale of Tsar Saltan which includes the famous The Flight of the Bumbleebee in it. This is an opera that I would probably never get a chance to see in my lifetime. It was very cute and fun to see, but it confirmed my feelings that the opera at the Mariinsky is not up to international standards for the most part unlike the ballet. Gergiev tries and tries, but for whatever reason the singers are just not singing at an international level. Still mediocre singers work fine in a rare Russian opera for me, so I enjoyed it.

I also saw a thing called the Magical World of Dance which was obviously geared for children at the Concert Hall. It had some nice excerpts from ballets and dancers like Batoeva, Kuznetsov, and others performed. I will try to remember what was performed. I blew all my roubles the first night there (Friday night) on drinks and dancing at gay bars! So I woke up with a hangover and rushed to the Concert Hall to see The Magical World of Dance (my first morning there), and had no roubles to buy a program (which was only in Russian anyway for this event). So if I can remember what I saw I will try to post. There were pieces from Firebird, Nutcracker, Satanella, Bayadere, etc. It was a GREAT program to involve children in ballet. I enjoyed it very much. They even called children on stage to try some moves.

A great time......as for some of the discussion above, there is still the major sense of Imperial Russia when you see the Mariinsky Ballet, in my opinion. It is still worth seeing them. Yes, Kampa was in small roles in every ballet I saw. Vasnetsova's Clemence (which was outstanding) showed up Kampa's Henrietta big time without meaning to).

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