Natalia

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

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Yes, I now remember that she danced Swan Lake at this past festival.

I guess a lot of the Mariinsky dancers who can't get promoted need to follow her lead and go dance in Vienna or Budapest or elsewhere and then come back as a guest principal. It might be the only way to get ahead at the Mariinsky nowadays.

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According to Austrian press, Olga Esina was supposed to move to Bolshoi, but in February she had second thoughts and stayed in Vienna.

http://www.viennareview.net/on-the-town/on-stage/rivalries-centre-stage

After a regal guest performance at the Bolshoi Theatre in October, where she shone as the dark seductress Odile, Esina was invited to decamp permanently to Moscow. Esina initially accepted and provisionally announced her departure. Rumours of some emotional entanglement began circulating. But then in February, Esina had second thoughts and allowed herself to be persuaded to stay.

I have seen her performance a few times and she really has star quality, Vaganova-trained, very beautiful with solid technique.

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The Mariinsky now has a Vaganova-trained dancer with seven years of experience dancing major roles in the kind of rep the Mariinsky is trying to bring into the company; of all the roles listed from her Wienerstaatsballett days, I count four classical roles, the Nureyev Odette/Odile, Paquita, Gamzatti in the Malakhov "La Bayadere," and Aurora in Peter Wright's "The Sleeping Beauty," although I'm not sure about the "Nutcracker."

  • Manon (Manon; choreography by Kenneth MacMillan),
  • Juliet (Romeo and Juliet; choreography by John Cranko),
  • Odette-Odile (Swan Lake; choreography by Rudolf Nureyev),
  • Bella (Die Fledermaus; choreography by Roland Petit),
  • Anna Karenina (Anna Karenina; choreography by Boris Eifman),
  • “Paquita” Grand pas; choreography by Marius Petipa,
  • Gamzatti (La Bayadère; choreography by Vladimir Malakhov),
  • Maria (The Nutcracker; choreography by Gyula Harangozó),
  • Glow Stop; choreography by Jorma Elo,
  • Pas de deux from Slingerland; choreography by William Forsythe,
  • Titania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream; choreography by Jorma Elo),
  • Swanhilde (Coppélia; choreography by Gyula Harangozó),
  • Theme and Variations, Stravinsky Violin Concerto; choreography by George Balanchine,
  • Marie Antoinette (Marie Antoinette; choreography by Patrick de Bana),
  • Princess Aurora (The Sleeping Beauty; choreography by Peter Wright),
  • In the Night, Glass Pieces; choreography by Jerome Robbins,
  • Ada (Le Concours; choreography by Maurice Béjart),
  • and Bach Suite 3; choreography by John Neumeier.

http://www.mariinsky.ru/en/company/ballet/principals_dancers/baleriny/esina1/

Kampa did graduate from the Vaganova Academy and was hired as a Coryphee, but not until after she danced for a few years in the Boston Ballet. I can't say why she was given that rank, although like Esina, she certainly has a lot of experience dancing works by Jorma Elo, because it's hard to say what Fateev is thinking.

According to Austrian press, Olga Esina was supposed to move to Bolshoi, but in February she had second thoughts and stayed in Vienna.

http://www.viennareview.net/on-the-town/on-stage/rivalries-centre-stage

I think any dancer thinking of joining the Bolshoi would have had second thoughts after January 2013.

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My thing is that Novikova, Osmolkina and Kolegova have a stronger Mariinsky repertoire (Esina doesn't have Giselle, Kitri or Nikiya in her rep from what I see, although those 3 have not danced all those either but each has danced some plus many other roles) and they have proven their loyalty (jumping in when cancellations have occurred). They are true team players and proven their worth. I think the Mariinsky is taking them for granted. All three are also willing to explore "new" repetoire. I would have preferred to see one of them move up to Principal status instead of hiring an outside person (even if Vaganova trained and originally at the Mariinsky) who jumps to the top of the heap. From the small little role I have seen Esina in (and granted it is several years ago that the DQ was taped) I do not think she compares to those three named above. They will probably never move up, and I find that tragic.

Of course, maybe a Guest Principal is not paid as much as a regular principal since a "Guest Principal" does not dance constantly with the company. I have no idea. So maybe this is comparing apples and oranges.

Before I left St. Petersburg, there were posters with Esina's face in the lobby of the Mariinsky treating her as if she were this huge star and in a tiny corner it said "Le Corsaire" with the date (her face was apparently more important than the ballet).......I have nothing against her, but it just seems strange to me when there are amazing dancers waiting for their chance. Of course, that is life. What can we do? I just feel it would make more sense if she were Semionova or Osipova or some other bigger name. Bringing people in to jump the queue and be a "star" seems to make more sense to me personally when the person is already a big star. It would also be less of a slap to the patient Mariinsky dancers. They would be able to placate themselves, "Well, it is Osipova who is world famous!"

It may be that her "new" rep that she brings with her was attractive to Fateyev. No idea. It will be interesting to see how long she remains a "Guest Principal."

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I wrote this at another forum about Olga Esina's Swan Lake at this year's Mariinsky Festival. It might be the longest description that I wrote. I hope that it's appropriate to post here.



Olga Esina


"Swan Lake"


Possibly The Most *Beautiful* Performance That I've Seen At This Year's Festival



She Was Absolutely Lovely !



Her style is somewhat of a juxtaposing of


**the Quietest, Yet Most Subtly Beautifully Dancing**


with magnificent, flexibly stretched-out


**Highlighting That Often Attains The Sublime**


Her dancing contains large passages of quietness that are made absolutely compelling by their


**Airy Fineness**


She has other exceptional qualities, such as the focus of her characterization, the way that she makes wonderfully crafted and exciting transitions from one dance 'phrase' to the next and the curvilinear way that her limbs reach out to create the most beautiful of tracery images.


She Is A Gem !

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How would it have been any better for Novikova, Osmolkina, or Kolegova if Fateev had hired a famous Guest Principal instead?

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How would it have been any better for Novikova, Osmolkina, or Kolegova if Fateev had hired a famous Guest Principal instead?

This is my own personal opinion, but if I were a hardworking dancer and jumped in and saved performances due to cancellation and slowly worked my way up the ranks and the Mariinsky decided to hire Svetlana Zakharova or Natalia Osipova or Cojocaru as "Guest Principal," I really couldn't complain. Big names bring publicity, ticket sales, money, etc. That is life. I might think, "Shoot....." but I would understand WHY some outside world famous ballerina would be hired by the company and my wait to rise will just be longer.

But if some Ms. Nobody gets hired as a "Guest Principal," I honestly would feel like that is a slap in the face.

But that is me.

It is one thing for someone who is a big name (and has tons of experience and lots of fans and maybe has paid her dues) to cut to the front of the line. It is another thing for a fairly unknown (at least worldwide) ballerina to cut the line and treated like a star above more talented dancers.

Like I said, I have nothing against Esina, and she is a beautiful woman judging from pictures, and her dancing is nice in the DQ variation, but I personally think it would annoy me much more to see her hired in contrast to Zakharova (even if Esina is better than Zakharova). We know that Name brands sell. It is like that in opera even. When Renee Fleming (a big star) was starring in Il Pirata at the Met people rushed to buy tickets. Then, when Olga Makarina jumped in for 2 performances people were like, "Who is that?" and no one wanted tickets to those performances and tried to switch.

Makarina supposedly did a credible job in the role, but nobody really wanted to see her. They wanted to see the star soprano! And everyone knows this happens.

So when Zakharova is hired, people might be frustrated, but they understand. "Well, I am being bumped or held back because the company wants a star! I can sort of understand it! She's going to sell more tickets and create more publicity!" is what my thought would be.

But if a Mary Lou Smith is hired as "Guest Principal" taking up a slot and bringing very little if any publicity or starry name to the mix, that would really make me mad!

But that is me. Maybe others do not feel that way.

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I'm not sure that Esina is "Miss Nobody." We in North America don't pay much attention to European ballet stars any more than we believe that opera singers who are stars in Europe and have made their careers there are important until they sing at the Met (or, possibly San Francisco or Chicago), nor do we take companies like Wienerstaatsballet very seriously. We asked, "Why did Nureyev and Bruhn choose to dance with this Sonia Arova person when they could have had [fill in the blank of someone better known] as partner?" I don't know Esina's dancing, but perhaps it's a similar situation.

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I think it is quite not polite to call Olga Esina Miss Nobody as at least she has guested as Odette/Odile in both Bolshoi and Mariinsky. At least she is the biggest star in Vienna, and the company level has risen dramatically high since Manuel Legris has taken over the directorship. The company has successfully completed their 3 week long Paris tour and Esina was praised much.

I do think Osmolkina, Kolegova and Novikova are brilliant dancers seen all of them in a leading role. Novikova is currently on maternity leave. But although Mariinsky and Vienna are much different in status and size, you get a kind of star appeal if you are the top principal of a company.

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Maybe Olga Esina is held in high esteem in Europe. I have no idea. And, Naomikage, I didn't really mean to insult Esina. I meant the Miss Nobody comment to refer to the fact that she doesn't seem to bring the same star power that the Guest Principals at the Mikhailovsky (Marcelo Gomes and Polina Semionova) bring to the table.

For me Olga Esina's name (star power) is about equal to Kolegova and Osmolkina probably in Europe. I could be wrong. Now Novikova, because she stars in two commercial videos (Don Quixote at the Mariinsky and Raymonda at La Scala) probably has much more name recognition than Esina. Maybe I am wrong. It just seems very odd to hire a Guest Principal who is not world famous. Hiring Gomes and Semionova as Guest Principals makes sense to me. Hiring Esina as Guest Principal does not. That is a personal opinion.

That's because if you have tons of talent already in the company, why even go outside? Going outside should mean that you are getting someone world famous who is going to bring lots of attention, publicity and star power. That is all I am saying. It just seems to make better business sense to hire huge stars as Guest Principals. I'm not even a Business person and hate Business. It is the last thing I would ever major in if I were to go back to college. For me if I had my life to do over it would always be to study more meaningless subjects that get you no jobs like languages, literature, etc. Business is actually totally foreign to my make-up and foreign to my interests in life, yet even my non-business personality thinks it is better to hire STARS if you go outside of the company.

For example, many little opera companies hire one big star like Deborah Voigt to sing Tosca or Lady Macbeth and surround her with nobodies (often local singers). They know her name will help to sell tickets. I do not mean that the "nobodies" can't sing (although often they can't......just a joke.....), but less people want to see Mary Jane Smith debut her Tosca. Many more (including the international press) are going to be interested in Voigt's first Tosca (which actually did happen in Florida several years ago).

I hope Olga Esina is an amazing dancer and does wonderfully at the Mariinsky and gets applause. I wish her no ill will at all. I just find the whole concept of hiring her unusual. But I am probably viewing it from a very Western background.

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Birdsall, I understand your point as I also think it is strange that Novikova is still not a principal at Mariinsky yet. She does deserve promotion as soon as she will be back from maternity leave.

There are some clips of Esina's debut performance in Le Corsaire at Mariinsky.

http://youtu.be/FTfaFMykSBI

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Thanks very much, naomikage, for the video clip. I've only viewed the beginning of the 'dance for three' (the part highlighting the ballerina) once, which sets the ballerina standard for me in this work, and can only offer a first impression, although first impressions are sometimes the most meaningful. I would say that this gives a hint as to what Olga Esina is about. Videos, as welcome and invaluable as they are, sometimes don't tell the entire story. I've often seen videos that just didn't seem to capture what I'd just seen live. This video, I would say, gives a sense of how extremely good Olga Esina is. I'll probably watch it much more and find a lot more to love in it. I maintain that she is *Remarkable!*.


Birdsall, all I can really say to your questions, is that the Mariinsky is top heavy with incredible talent. Not such a bad thing. To do justice to it all would be a task for the 'gods'. I think that the answer is to make *Everyone* a Principal. flowers.gif


Added comment:


Several minutes and several viewings (of the beginning) later, I'm *Loving* it more already.


[some additional wording and clarification made]

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I suppose that we'll still be talking about Principals for awhile in this world, so I'll add my guess to the list. Next in line (and well deservedly so, not to the detraction of anyone else) -- Oxana Skorik.

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Why?

Because she's that good.

And she seems to have the full recognition and backing of the ballet's Artistic Director, Yuri Fateyev.

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Why?

Because she's that good.

And she seems to have the full recognition and backing of the ballet's Artistic Director, Yuri Fateyev.

In my personal opinion, Fateyev has the worst taste in dancers. Kolegova, Novikova, and Osmolkina should be Principals way before Skorik, in my opinion.

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I agree absolutely with you about how good Anastasia Kolegova, Olesya Novikova and Yekaterina Osmolkina are. Anastasia Kolegova, I Adore ! Olesya Novikova, based on a Giselle video clip that I saw a few months ago, is dancing with a dreamlike beauty that's the most lovely that I've ever seen her perform. Ekaterina Osmolkina is on my not overly tall list of "Butterflies", not tall dancers that I think are great (along with Anastasia Kolegova). She also performed one of the most beautiful Giselles that I've ever seen. Like I said, I'd make them all Principals.

I do think that Acting Director Yuri Fateyev has a very good eye for dancers that he has encouraged. I also feel that Olga Smirnova should have been grabbed up and directed to Stardom immediately (which is now the case at the Bolshoi) and all efforts should have been made to keep and advance Evgenia Obraztsova, but I don't know all that was involved. That he made Alina Somova a Principal as soon as he arrived and seems to now be championing Oxana Skorik and has just added Olga Esina to the Principal list, says a great deal for him in my opinion.

Also the way that the Balanchine rep has become so impressive in the last few years, I would guess, largely has to be credited to him.

Added:

I also feel that Yuri Fateyev's bringing Xander Parish and Kim Kimin into the company has already shown that his stepping outside the box somewhat has been very rewarding. In addition, I think that Keenan Kampa will prove to be a fine choice. Sometimes it takes a while for things to fall into place and become apparent.

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Why?

Because she's that good.

And she seems to have the full recognition and backing of the ballet's Artistic Director, Yuri Fateyev.

In my personal opinion, Fateyev has the worst taste in dancers. Kolegova, Novikova, and Osmolkina should be Principals way before Skorik, in my opinion.

We've seen plenty of dancers who've had the full recognition of their Artistic Director; that simply speaks to their career opportunities. Some of them have been that good, some of them have been that good, but others are better, and some are not that good. Particularly in this forum, that's the bulk of the conversation.

I've seen Novikova live in non-classical rep, and I thought she was fine, but not a dancer I would get on a plane to see. I though she was lovely in the La Scala "Raymonda" reconstruction, but not on the same level as Tereshkina, for example, and far less interesting than Kondaurova and Osmolkina. (I don't know Kolegova's dancing.)

Skorik strikes me as another dancer who has talent and has been pushed too fast and inappropriately for the results, but she wouldn't be the first dancer to be done an artistic wrong in that way by an AD who wants to make a mark by having produced "his" dancer or would-be star, nor would she be the first dancer whose career was helped greatly by a partial vacuum, in this case at least by happy news, the births of children.

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Helene, I think that by giving Oxana Skorik as many chances as possible, as soon as possible, will fire her drive and her amazing abilities, as is the case with Olga Smirnova at the Bolshoi. So far I think that this is proving to be true.

Added:

My reference is having seen her maybe seven times or more on stage in the last several years and the most recent video clips that I've been able to find.

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I think by pushing an admittedly nervous dancer as hard and prominently as he has Skorik, without giving her a chance to grow into the rep and to feel confident at each stage, but, instead, asking her to carry the company, Fateev has not only done as disservice to her, but also to the other dancers whom he could have grown concurrently by giving them similar opportunities.

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Yes, I now remember that she danced Swan Lake at this past festival.

I guess a lot of the Mariinsky dancers who can't get promoted need to follow her lead and go dance in Vienna or Budapest or elsewhere and then come back as a guest principal. It might be the only way to get ahead at the Mariinsky nowadays.

I agree. And I think the problem is not whether Esina is good or bad, but that the problem with the MT is that talented Vaganova graduates from 05 on are not getting enough opportunities to develop and are left to rot. Even if they do get opportunities eventually, after years of fighting among the corps, so many years of lack of proper training (as in school) deteriorate their talents and abilities - as a result they are not able to be at their best, spiritually and physically, when they are needed in bigger roles.

Personally I think Esina is good, both as a Vaganova graduate and as a principal in a decent company, but she was not the biggest star among the 04 grads (Yulia Bolshakova was, followed by Valeria Martynyuk), but Vaganova grads from 2000-2004 were getting big opportunities from the start, whereas none of the biggest stars among 05 to 12 grads, some better than Esina as an out of school student, are getting the opportunities she used to get. If Esina did not left MT in 2006 to join Vienna, she might not be able to advance to principal by now, because Osmolkina, Novikova and many others were all sharing her opportunities. If she is hired as a guest principal for only a limited period, it is not good for the development of the company in general, because young non-principal ballerinas would have less opportunities to dance big roles, and would not stand out when the company needs them. If she is hired permanently as a principal, that is too unfair for the others, who are equally good and hardworking, but never allowed to show their ability because a lucky 04 grad got in their way.

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Leaving the Mariinsky doesn't mean Esina was any better or worse than her fellow classmates: it means that she took a chance -- there was no guarantee Mariinsky management would ever let her back in -- got a ton of experience working with stagers and choreographers and dancing leading roles in the rep that the Mariinsky is trying to produce now, worked with dancers with wide range of schooling and technique, experienced life in another country and cultural center, probably learned another two languages (at least), was recognized by Legris, who had been recognized by Nureyev in his early 20's and was an etoile at Paris Opera Ballet for two decades, and was a recognizable star in Vienna.

If any of her classmates didn't feel they were recognized at the Mariinsky and didn't want to leave their careers in the hands of Mariinsky AD's, chances are great they could have found a similar opportunity, as top graduates of the Vaganova Academy are still prized in a lot of the world's companies.

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I think by pushing an admittedly nervous dancer as hard and prominently as he has Skorik, without giving her a chance to grow into the rep and to feel confident at each stage, but, instead, asking her to carry the company, Fateev has not only done as disservice to her, but also to the other dancers whom he could have grown concurrently by giving them similar opportunities.

Exactly, and as a result more pressure is given to Skorik because one gets the impression that she is being promoted at the expense of everyone else in the company, therefore she's not allowed not to be extremely amazing.

Regarding Esina, another problem is the roles she's dancing. Le Corsaire does not seem to be a role she's famous for, nor is it a frequent ballet in Western Europe. One would say she is bring western style back to MT if she's allowed to dance all the great modern choreographies she's excellent in, or Swan Lake and some others. Her recent performance as Medora, which is also the closing performance of the season, received many controversial comments, and personally I would rank it average, but again, why isn't she given the roles she's good at? That also does not seem a role Manuel Legris is specialized and could teach her. And when Manuel Legris came there, she was already principal for quite a while.

I don't think "chances are great" other talented ballerinas could find similar opportunities. Esina was offered directly Principal status in Vienna when that company was emerging. Any other MT talented ballerina would take such a chance if there is any. But how many ballet companies are there altogether? How many of them are in need of principals? How many of them are willing to take corps-de-ballet directly as principals? And how many MT ballerinas are allowed roles like O/O in their first two seasons now? I think Esina is facing similar pressure as Skorik is facing, many people both in and out of the theater would not excuse them not being extremely exceptional. It's not that the ballerinas are guilty for this, but they are the ones to be easily blamed, because they are "not accomplishing their duty" as expected.

Personally I loved both Skorik and Esina as young dancers, but not so much now since Skorik "has to make" so many mistakes before giving a good performance, and Esina is appearing not in a role best suited role for her (I even liked her very much in her recent O/O guest performance, but not so after her Medora). I am willing to accept them, but just cannot when seeing them not so good, taking into consideration that others might be better if allowed to perform.

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Carla Korbes was hired out of NYCB as a Soloist at PNB, not a Principal -- she had just been promoted to Soloist at NYCB around the time she decided to make the switch -- and she quickly became a Principal. Not every new graduate or second-year corps dancer would be made a Principal dancer immediately, like Esina, but each had the opportunity to find a company outside the Mariinsky where he or she could have been a big fish in a small pond. The others chose to stay home in the big pond, just as many SAB graduates could have moved up the ranks quickly at a smaller company but chose to stay with NYCB and languish in the corps. It's not that I don't understand wanting the dream of joining the prestigious home company or even dismissing other companies as inferior, but Esina made a different choice, and now she's bearing the fruit of it. She's a guest artist, the best of all possible worlds, because if she finds the Mariinsky an inhospitable place, she doesn't have to stay.

Esina was guaranteed nothing when Legris took over Wienerstaatsballett. Plenty of new AD's take the reigning stars and sideline them, if not completely, then by focusing on other dancers.

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It's not that I don't understand wanting the dream of joining the prestigious home company or even dismissing other companies as inferior, but Esina made a different choice, and now she's bearing the fruit of it. She's a guest artist, the best of all possible worlds, because if she finds the Mariinsky an inhospitable place, she doesn't have to stay.

Esina was guaranteed nothing when Legris took over Wienerstaatsballett. Plenty of new AD's take the reigning stars and sideline them, if not completely, then by focusing on other dancers.

The fact that she is not sidelined is exactly the sign that she is lucky, so is her getting O/O in her first or second season at the MT. I understand that any ballerina would want to get as much big opportunities to dance as possible, and possibly every unlucky ballerina would do exactly the same, take exactly the same amount of risk, if they were the ones offered an opportunity they regard as propitious, or if they were granted the luck. But those in luck has to take more responsibilities than the others and have a sense of giving back. Especially in regard to art, if they are not really competent, whether they are pushed into the role or they asked for it themselves, they should know to be unselfish once in a while. If they choose to go on stage without being their best, or being the best, they should also bear the pressure the audience and other fellow dancers give them.

Presently the quality of the company itself is at stake, but what the audience want is money well spent and seeing competent, amazing ballerinas doing excellent jobs on stage. They are prepared to be amazed, but they are not. Some would blame the management, others would blame the dancers, because after all, something is not working well. Zakharova, Smirnova, Vishneva, and many other great ballerinas are all very lucky, but they are capable of giving "astounding" performances without causing much controversies. Every star is lucky in their own way, and being competent, bearing the additional pressure associated with their big name, sacrificing for it, is their responsibility as well as their way of being unselfish. Negative comments are also part of the responsibility and risk associated with their luckiness. Because every ballet lover would naturally expect the best from the "big names" or the "principals", and suspect their legitimacy when they do not get a satisfactory experience. So are some of their more talented colleagues, who expect to learn from those in big roles, but find nothing worthy.

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Added to my previous comment: I just remembered two other examples of "unluckiness" - Oksana Kiyanenko was a promising 06 Vaganova graduate, like Esina, she was also not the biggest star of that year but she was strong enough for MT and praised by some for some of her qualities. Instead of MT, she chose to join Wienerstaatsballett, as a corps de ballet. My personal guess would be that she saw Esina and Yakovleva's move and thought she might get more opportunities there, but 7 years passed and she was still among the corps, without much chance to show her talent. One of the biggest stars of the 06 grads is Maria Chugai, who joined the Dutch National Ballet as a coryphee after she was made a coryphee at Mariinsky, but 4 years passed and she never moved up. Their choice were possibly similar to Esina's choice and bore the same risk at the time, but they never became star in the less known company and were allowed to develop as Esina, and because of this, they don't bear the expectations and pressures Esina is bearing.

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