Birdsall

Skorik

477 posts in this topic

This has been one of the most challenging threads on Ballet Alert! in a long time, for about 75 reasons. I've already addressed most of them, but here are a couple more:

1. Please do not refer to or discuss unofficial sources. If the NYT or izvetsia publishes an article about ballet video uploaders or posters on other message board, then it's a valid discussion here. Otherwise, do not discuss them or justify what they do.

1a. Please don't speak on behalf of anyone else. This does not mean the occasional mention of a what a friend or family member has told you about a performance, like "My friend was there and told me that [dancer] was named an etoile on stage tonight" or, in response to a question about a ballet or performer, "I haven't seen it yet, but my friends weren't impressed/told me it wasn't for children under 15/thought she was weak," but please don't become a conduit.

2. Responding negatively any time someone says something positive about a dancer, ballet, choreographer, etc. is not only tedious -- we did read it it first, third, and twelfth time -- it is also akin to bullying. The person who speaks last is simply the person who speaks last.

There's also a third issue that came up a while ago on another thread that I want to re-iterate, because this topic runs in shark-infested waters: unless the source is official (from a dancer, company, mainstream critic), if a video has a treatise or screed as part of it, do not post the link. Once there is a message in words, it's in the same category as a post on another message board, regardless of how valuable the video is.

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Now back to the topic.

It's one thing to take a performance in context -- the three-hour version -- and criticize it, but to take a series of mistakes out of context I think is low and cheap. There is enough criticism in several languages that describes how Skorik has erred to discuss how she compares technically to her peers and to historic ballerinas. I don't find her line or extensions classical, but she's hardly the only Mariinsky ballerina to share them: one of my great disappointments was seeing Lopatkina's similar extensions in the Lilac Fairy variation during the Berkeley. Most often, when a dancer has an issue with turns and big extensions combined, they get progressively worse, whereas Skorik in the Lilac Fairy section (~3:33) made a remarkable recovery, which undermined the compiler's case, in my eyes.

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Helene, I really appreciate your always polite intervention here. I, being the one who brought up the Skorik video, somehow feel at fault now for sounding too hard on the woman. I remember the times when the Youtube videos were not allowed on this site, and believe me, I feel grateful we can use the fixture to sustain certain point or to share a lovely performance. Then, if the clip in question is felt to be borderline with the non acceptable-(or plainly non acceptable)-, I won't question the assessment and will take it out. Now, having been myself clear enough at several times on what I perceive on the dancer, I'm oficially done assessing her.

Edited:

Will be back here and there to spice things up within the respectful trend...happy.png

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The error compilation video is valid for discussion here: it's not one that is prefaced by "cue cards" with an editorial; the creator has let his or her point stand on its own. It doesn't even appear to have been doctored, like a video of another dancer that at least was spliced so blatantly we could recognize it and call it for what it was.

My opinion about the video itself is just that: my opinion. I'm rather glad the creator showed Skorik recovering strongly in the Lilac Fairy variation, even if the extensions make me crazy. I'm not sure that was his or her intention.

Just for some history, the reason we originally didn't allow YouTube videos was because some might have violated copyright, and we didn't want to have to judge which did and which didn't, but we decided to make that an issue between the copyright owners and YouTube, and that's worked out a lot better. It is certainly more efficient for copyright holders to nip it at the source rather than try to track down where the links to the video were posted.

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Now, having been myself clear enough at several times on what I perceive on the dancer, I officially take my final bow on this thread. bow.GIF

I think I will too. I realize I have said all I want to say about her.

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There have been some wonderful and thought-provoking posts in this thread, including some side-bars, detours, and discussions of the big picture, and it won't be the last thread in which the current direction of Mariinsky will be discussed, criticized, and rued. We've been doing this to Peter Martins for 30 years: Fateev is in the toddler stage by comparison.

What has become intolerable is when threads segue into bully pulpits for single-issue agendas and/or propaganda-gossip. (The latter is generally easier for the Moderators to address by editing or deleting; the former takes a while to establish pattern.) It takes fortitude to get past these posts and not abandon thread, and participating on a discussion board shouldn't be that much work.

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Thanks to everyone for trying to keep this topic running as smoothly and fairly as is possible.

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ITA with cubanmiamiboy and Birdsall. My next comments on Skorik will be about live (not YouTube) performances, which most likely will be in January 2014, when the Mariinsky presents a week of Swan Lakes at the Kennedy Center. Skorik should be one of the Odette-Odiles on that tour. (Lopatkina/Korsuntsev are the feature couple on the Mariinsky section of the just-printed season brochure.) Watch this space for casting information, usually a month before the performances:

http://www.kennedy-c...ts/?event=BOBSG

p.s. - I just read about the error-compilation vid. That is cruel. It's one thing to point out one major flub during a recent performance that folks may be discussing; it's another to go through the trouble of assembling/editing a bunch of errors. I wouldn't do that even for Somova. :)

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I saw all seven "Swan Lake"s in Costa Mesa, Ca., last October, and loved them all. Oxana Skorik (3), Ekaterina Kondaurova (2) and Anastasia Kolegova (2). I felt that Oxana Skorik's performances, two of which weren't flawless ( and one I thought essentially was), showed 'genius' and were a 'privilege' to have seen. I think that I was impressed ! flowers.gif

One of the qualities that I remember so well was how Oxana Skorik was able to take her outstanding physical prowess and use it to add layers of expression to the feeling and significance of the work, rather than just being a show in itself. Also her facial commitment (as well as her physical) at times went right to the edge and she managed it with assurance and 'genius'.

Also I think that discussing internet videos here is perfectly fine if you accept them for what they are. I've found that they often do not convey what I felt (and even saw) at particular stage performances, but it doesn't have to be that way and they can certainly offer valuable insight when kept in perspective.

Added comment:

I know that this topic has been a bit 'edgy' at times and I don't want to now make it seem that the 'smileys' , such as myself, are now taking it all in the opposite direction, but my enthusiasm is what I truly consider justified and I would feel it insincere and not fair if I didn't express it.

[first and third sentence added to slightly]

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I saw all seven "Swan Lake"s in Costa Mesa, Ca., last October, and loved them all. Oxana Skorik (3), Ekaterina Kondaurova (2) and Anastasia Kolegova (2). I felt that Oxana Skorik's performances, two of which weren't flawless ( and one I thought essentially was), showed 'genius' and were a 'privilege' to have seen. I think that I was impressed ! flowers.gif

One of the qualities that I remember so well was how Oxana Skorik was able to take her outstanding physical prowess and use it to add layers of expression to the feeling and significance of the work, rather than just being a show in itself. Also her facial commitment (as well as her physical) at times went right to the edge and she managed it with assurance and 'genius'.

I have not seen all 7, but i had seen four (4) performances and each possible cast in Costa Mesa, Friday-Sunday and saw Skorik twice.

Besides the great body and physics, that was the worst O/O in my life-span*. Not only she omitted most "birdy" like moves, simplified steps, was wobbly with partnering**, missed the music score, she had NO acting, she never looked at Siegfried, and only "connection" she had was with Rothbald in black swan act. There was NO chemistry in partnering, i just felt her fear. Yep, she has the terrific body/ the great "istrument", but i'll stay away from buying tickets to see her, and will try to exchange them if casting changes. I would Never fly to Russia to see her. She has not earned that in my personal book. But to each his own.

*I primarily watch Mariinsky, Bolshoi, and "russians" at ABT. **I saw Shklyarov partnering other balerina's and it's not his fault

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I'd just like to point out that Skorik performed Swan Lake 5 times in a 10 day period between Costa Mesa and Berkley. Even for a 22 year old, that's a tremendous beating for the body (especially the feet). Others have mentioned that this is Fateyev pushing her too hard, too fast. I think injury is inevitable if this schedule persists.

I also question her preparation. First - if she is performing so often, is she getting the preparation time (coaching) required for each new role? Is she getting adequate rest before each performance? Swan Lake is a marathon, I wouldn't ask an athlete to run a competitive 10k five times over a 10 day period and expect world-beater records on every performance.

Consider how many new roles Ms Skorik and Ms Kampa have debuted over the past year or so. I think in the past MT has taken more time to prepare a dancer, and paced the performances to allow more rest.

Therefore I amend my earlier criticism of her dancing to account for management's handling of her schedule. If you showed this schedule to an Olympic trainer, I think there would be a great deal of criticism. Periodization is just as important in dance arts as it is in athletics.

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Jayne, thanks for reminding me how many times all three dancers, Oxana Skorik, Ekaterina Kondaurova and Anastasia Kolegova performed in those two weeks along with corps de ballet members, etc. who may have performed every night. I don't know how demanding Swan Lake is in terms of shear physical stamina, but I would have to give all the Mariinsky dancers, Oxana Skorik, carrying a major responsibility in Costa Mesa, a great deal of credit.

In all honesty, I didn't feel that physical demand was noticeable in her dancing, but I'd have no way of knowing what the reality was. Her main concern seemed to be confidence, and when she had that she took things to the limit -- magnificently. When she didn't seem to be totally secure, she still did remarkably well, in my opinion. And as I alluded to before, the performances where she seemed to be less confident, for me, produced some of the most impressive results overall.

I guess one of the reasons that physical demand didn't occur to me is that I've seen this happen many times at the Mariinsky. Dancers appear again and again in a short time span, probably because of limited casting alternatives. I start to take it for granted. If my memory is correct, Evgenia Obraztsova at one of the Festivals, performed the lead to Ondine, two nights in a row. I'm sure there have been other similar instances that I don't recall for the moment.

I certainly agree with you that 'pacing' is very important, but for one reason or another it doesn't always happen. In any case dancers in many companies have to be given great credit for pure physical stamina. I often feel that dancers are made up as much of steel as they are of soul.

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It's obviously a deliberate decision, because they knew about the pregnancies -- unlike with injuries or sudden injuries, especially when they happen on a thin-rostered tour, they had enough advanced notice to provide intensive coaching -- yet chose to put their eggs in one or two baskets, which is a huge risk even if the dancer is a resurrected Anna Pavlova.

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I've been going back and forth between some internet video clips of Oxana Skorik performing two very different works, Le Corsaire (the pas de trois (dance for three)) and Carmen Suite. A very fine quality that is catching my attention for the first time is in the use of her hands. They seem to greatly extend the space in which she is performing by suggesting images and creating interest that reach way beyond her physical presence. Also there is lovely nuancing in her hands.

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Am not able to type at length, but Skorik was one of the two swan soloists in this afternonon's matinee Swan Lake. If I identified her correctly in Act IV, then I have to say that I found her quite lovely, genuinely exquisite at moments. Should she be doing ballerina roles? I could not say, and the reports of her slips and stumbles in more technically challenging roles are damning. But for a few seconds there I though to myself 'Okay THAT is what her admirers are seeing'--not just a pretty body, but delicate, rippling movement, 'boneless' but not inarticulate legs and arms. Much better than anything I have seen on YouTube. Maybe she should not (yet?) be doing Odette, but a lovely soloist--at least I thought so at this afternoon's performance.

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Many thanks for reporting back, Drew!

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I noticed that she replaced Shirinkina as one of the two swans (Shirinkina was originally cast as both one of the two swans and in the prince's friends pas de trois and danced neither). Now I just looked at the website and Shirinkina is no longer cast as Cinderella tonight. Pavlenko is. Hope Shirinkina is not injured.

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Hopefully she'll be back soon.

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I don't see Olesya Novikova on the summer playbills either. I hope that she will return soon, too. :)

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A Step Beyond

A Step Beyond is perhaps what we call greatness. I would say that Anna Pavlova (based on 'The Swan' video clip) and Galina Ulanova are two of the finest historic examples. Other ballerinas have this ability, but the degree to which they use it or can accomplish it varies.

There are ballerinas who are basically exceptional. In today's world I would include Ulyana Lopatkina (possibly one of the greatest ballerinas of all time for her basic beauty alone), Veronika Part, Alina Cojocaru and Svetlana Zakharova. Some younger dancers are Oxana Skorik, Ekaterina Kondaurova, Alina Somova and Olga Smirnova.

As for a Step Beyond, I would say that Veronika Part lives there. Alina Cojocaru also. Svetlana Zakharova, in my opinion, in the last two years since the birth of her child, has entered this realm. Ekaterina Kondaurova, at this year's Mariinsky Festival, unveiled a level of exciting acting prowess that I've never seen at the ballet before (except for Alina Cojocaru), possibly rivaling some of the Hollywood and Broadway greats.

Both Oxana Skorik and Alina Somova are very capable of taking a Step Beyond. I've seen them both do it. Olga Smirnova is always pushing her boundaries to the extent that I sometimes don't recognize her in the same role from one performance to the next.

Oxana Skorik and Alina Somova interest me very much. I've seen them carry their performances well beyond their essential loveliness. To what degree they will continue to do this will be very interesting to see. Maybe it's not necessary. Sometimes Basic Beauty is more than enough. I would say that this is the case with Ulyana Lopatkina and perhaps with a younger dancer, Maria Shirinkina. Alina Somova along with the very young Olga Smirnova seem to be 'experimenting' more.

Oxana Skorik for the moment seems to be consolidating her basic beauty. Also as the video clip posted here of her daily life explains, she is now being asked to and taking on the task of mastering a large number of different works.

Oxana Skorik very much captures my imagination, both for her essential Fineness and for her ability to be 'Explosive' in her expression, definitely a Step Beyond. And there is more. She can be equally subtle. As Mariinsky Ballet Artistic Director Yuri Fateev says (as translated here earlier by Catherine), "In addition, she has depth, she has an internal world." So it should be hopefully great to see where she goes and how she charts her course.

[spelling correction made]

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. Sometimes Basic Beauty is more than enough.

Poor Vaganova. She kept hearing that over and over...

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Buddy, did you see that Alina Somova is scheduled to return to the stage on July 31, as Giselle? We wish her a wonderful beginning to Chapter Two of her performing career. It's all about New Beginnings.

http://www.mariinsky...13/7/31/1_1900/ (Somova shown in the headline, even though the page still indicates "cast to be announced")

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Having a baby has done wonders for many dancers.

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Buddy, did you see that Alina Somova is scheduled to return to the stage on July 31, as Giselle? We wish her a wonderful beginning to Chapter Two of her performing career.

Good news, Natalia. I believe that Svetlana Zakharova said that she was back practicing several weeks after giving birth. She's also said that her daughter's happiness is now what she lives for the most. I saw her perform in London about six months later and was amazed at the great shape that she was in. In addition, as I implied above, I think that her total commitment to character and her performing in general have moved up to another level.

Added comment:

Cristian, by "basic beauty" I wished to imply learning as well, which might be closer to what you value. Also by "basic beauty" I'm referring to admittedly my slight bias. I tend to divide dancers into two broad categories, (1) refined/ethereal and (2) expressive (expressive: Diana Vishneva and Natalia Osipova being fine examples). I appreciate both very much, but my love seems to be somewhat with the refined/ethereals, which I probably am thinking about when I talk of dancers with "basic beauty."

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