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Skorik

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Schools go through ups and downs, and some classes are weaker than others, even if that weakness is relative.

If Somova's class was a weak class for females, that doesn't mean that its graduates were unworthy of entering the company, but what is confusing looking at them from a traditional aesthetic, is why she would be pushed above all others. If you look at her as embodying a different aesthetic, no matter what you think of that aesthetic, then her selection is quite natural.

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Schools go through ups and downs, and some classes are weaker than others, even if that weakness is relative.

If Somova's class was a weak class for females, that doesn't mean that its graduates were unworthy of entering the company, but what is confusing looking at them from a traditional aesthetic, is why she would be pushed above all others. If you look at her as embodying a different aesthetic, no matter what you think of that aesthetic, then her selection is quite natural.

ITA with you Helene. I've seen Somova several times in different roles live and canned since her start in 2004. The answer(s) to the question "why" she was pushed above all others has never been adequately answered - (justified?) at least to those of us who are baffled

by her ascent and position in the company. However, your last point may be the answer. When she graduated, the powers that be determined that she embodied the ideal that they favor. So, to them (and those who like her dancing), her selection was natural.

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http://www.dance-tea...cedemonstration

This site lists Safronova as a former Kirov principal. In the Mariinsky Theatre, I have seen books with her dancing with Soloviev and other Kirov stars, with her in principal roles. Just calling her a Maly soloist is equivalent to insulting her - just imagine saying that Kolpakova was a Maly soloist. Safronova taught Alina Somova and Elena Vostrotina from 2000 to 2003, 5th to 8th year, the graduation year. She was not a substitute for Kovaleva.

You make it seem like Safronova was not a highly regarded ballerina and not a highly regarded teacher, when to the contrary, she was highly regarded as a Kirov principal ballerina, having danced leading roles with Soloviev, and she was also an important teacher at Vaganova for many years.

http://www.smithsoni...html?c=y&page=7

This link contains part of an interview with Safronova, in which it states she started at the Vaganova Academy in 1938. It also talks about the stringent weeding out process throughout a child's time at the Academy, during which only about half of these students who enter the academy actually graduate. Safronova would have graduated then in about 1946.

http://www.ballet.co...tchelkanova.htm

This shows Ekaterina Chtchelkanova, a dancer who was part of Safronova's graduation class of 1988, so 2003 was not her only graduating year since she had a graduating class in 1988 and probably many other years. Incidentally, the one year Irma Nioradze studied at Vaganova, after graduating from Tbilisi, her teacher was Safronova.

Finally, 2003 was not her last graduation class as you write. She was also teacher of the 2009 graduation class which had in it 2 potential Mariinsky superstars, Yulia Stepanova and Nadezhda Batoeva, both recently promoted to coryphee, plus Mariinsky Tatiana Tilguzova and two Mikhailovsky highly used dancers, Krasyuk and Kiseleva.

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tumblr_m6ezyioWiE1r96ao3o1_500.png

680862.037la_bella_durmiente___orig.jpg

I don't mean to beat a dead horse, but that standing knee looks much more hyper-extended than the average dancer. I know you are mainly pointing out the overall pose and how the lifted leg is not right, but the standing leg, to my eye, shows extreme hyper-extension.

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The whole thing is a big mess...the distorted ribcage, the dropped knee and the out of line/too high pointe of the rised leg, etc. It is interesting...I showed yesterday the two pictures to a waitress in a place I usually go for breakfast. She used to be a dancer, and she pointed rather at Valdes pic and told me that her line and leg/pointe shape and attitude pose looked old fashioned.

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the foot higher than the knee in attitude extension is as far as i can recall a Vaganova/Russian school trait - the foot at knee level tends to be Cecchetti styled positioning.

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the foot higher than the knee in attitude extension is as far as i can recall a Vaganova/Russian school trait - the foot at knee level tends to be Cecchetti styled positioning.

Fonteyn

tumblr_lzxoquNFUh1qfymwro1_500.jpg

Kolpakova

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I did some fact-checking. Very quickly, my library of Russian books yields this - The 2003 tome, Peterburgsky Balet from 1903-2003, by Arsen Degen and Igor Stupnikov (Baltiiskye Saison publishers, 2003), cites these dates and companies for Safronova (pp. 237-38), in quick translation:

"SAFRONOVA, LUDMILLA NIKOLAYEVA (b. 9.9.1929, Leningrad)....

Graduated the Russian Ballet Acad in 1947 (class of Vaganova). Fm 1947-1949 a soloist with the Saratov troupe, where her main roles were "Vanochka" in DOCTOR AIBLIT and Bacchante in WALPURGIS NIGHT in FAUST. From 1950-1969 was a member -- [, no word 'soloist' ] -- of the Maly dancing....[many roles listed, beginning with Fanchella in GAVROCHE and 'The Girl' in EROS]... , guested in the part of Fraskita in "Treulgolka. " From 1969-1970 was teacher of the Royal Ballet of Cambodia in Pnom-Pehn, where she staged PAQUITA. From 1970-1974 and 1977-78, was teacher of Cairo Ballet in Egypt. Similar position in Zagreb from 1983-84. Taught at the Russian Ballet ("Vaganova" academy, off and on, from 1975. Her graduating classes were in 1977 (Tatyana Rusanova), 1981 (Pankova)and 1988 (Chirkova and Nioradze, the latter there for post-grad finishing)."

Ludmilla Safronova wasn't ever a member of the Kirov Ballet. She was a member of the Maly company. The closest she came to the Kirov stage was across 1 Teatralnaya Square at the Leningrad Conservatoire as a guest of the Ballet of the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory. She appeared with them in this ballet - as noted above in the bio-citation: "TREULGOLKA (Russian for TRICORNE) - a one-act ballet, composed by Manuel DeFalla, staged by L. Martinez-Serra (after poem by Alarcon) Balletmaster F. Bakalov. Designs by T. Bruni. Conducted by Sherman. January 1, 1968."

She may have guested with the Kirov and danced with Vikulov in the odd gala, but was not on roster. I was generous to mention that she was a soloist (where the citation doesn't). I would never compare L. Safronova with I.A. Kolpakova - there's no comparison, because of the obvious reasons: She wasn't in the company and, she most certainly wasn't in Kolpakova's orbit. Also, I never meant to suggest or even infer that Safronova was a weak teacher. On the contrary, Somova is, in fact, Safronova's most illustrious and famous pupil; that speaks for itself, just like the pics that have been posted here, and for those of us who have been eyewitnesses to her artistry since 2004. As for Kiseleva and Krasyuk they are indeed "highly utilized" at the Mikhailovsky - as corps de ballet members would be. As for Tiliguzova, Stepanova and Batoeva, they will go forward only if Fateev wants them to; it doesn't matter how promising they are. I don't need to recap how long they may wait in their current (rank) for opportunities.

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Okay, so I would like to explain why I was trying to play Devil's Advocate. Some people are tired about my postings about Somova, but I am trying to figure something out. I have two different friends, both of which are very, very knowledgeable about ballet. One hates Somova and one Loves Somova. So on this topic I was attempting to think out loud and figure out a compromise and why people are so divided, which is why I brought up the opera comparisons which is something I actually know about. I also gave the "hyper-extension" idea as something I wanted to put forth, since that was something I learned about while trained to teach Pilates.

So that is why I went on and on. I am trying to make sense of how two opposing views by two knowledgeable people can exist side by side.

Now please look at the video below and give your thoughts on this video below. It seems to contradict what some people say. I am just trying to get to the bottom of things.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9y-bYicG2bU&feature=g-all

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Just a general reminder that posts on other discussion boards, including YouTube except where summarized by Foreign Correspondents for non-English boards, aren't for discussion here. We get enough hyperbole here.

As far as how two knowledgeable people can disagree, you can go back to your opera example and how polarizing the Tebaldi-Callas-Milanov wars are, or the love-her-or-hate-her discussions about Bartoli. It's like comparing the approaches of Sutherland to Rysanek, who were completely different artists. Sutherland routinely hit the vocal equivalent of the fish dives, the 32-fouettes, and the balances in the Rose Adagio, and she mostly bored me. Rysanek could go from sublime to disastrous in the same performance, but I'll watch her fall off point listen to her sing anything at least once.

People look for different things in ballet and in dancers, and have very different ideas about the evolution of ballet and how the classics should be danced physically and stylistically and about what progress should look like. Especially about what progress should look like and not look like, and how it should be applied to classical ballet vs. neo-classical ballet. For some it's a matter of taste and for some, as Balanchine put it, when asked by a mother whether her daughter would become a great ballerina, "C'est une question morale."

If you read Pawlick's book on Vaganova, Vaganova wasn't a stickler who didn't move forward and didn't accept change -- she, in her stagings, pretty much single-handled swept mime out of the picture -- and as a pedagogue watched then-contemporary trends in ballet and updated her methodology and teaching to support those efforts. She did have a limit, though, and rejected then-contemporary ballet choreography when it crossed her line between progressive and circus. I think people would go into the book thinking that this line for her would be much farther to the right than it was, but it wasn't "anything goes" either.

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Bravo, Cygnet! I have that tome too. To her credit, Safronova's roles at the Maly also included top classical roles like Odette-Odile. I have a large collection of Maly Theater 'annuals' (booklets serving as yearbooks) with photos of Safronova with lovely turn-out, gorgeous arches feet, etc. It's too bad that she was not able to pass-on her technique & style to Somova and others that I cite below, from her various graduation classes.

My main point, though, was that as a pedagogue, she was not known for developing classically-pure graduates. Somova isn't the least pure among Safronova's charges; I give the 'dubious honor' to Elena Pankova who was a real maverick, known for a somewhat-sloppy style, in addition to her zesty personality. Just compare vids/DVDs of the VIVANDIERE PDD of the classically-pure and elegant Sizova ca-1980 with that danced by gung-ho Pankova in London ca-1988! Until Somova came along, Pankova was my least-favorite Kirov-Mariinsky soloist; little did I know, until now, that Pankova and Somova shared the same graduating-class teacher, a couple of decades apart! That says it all. 'Nuf said. smile.png

On Safronova's graduating classes -

As far as I can tell from gleanings in various Russian documents, Safronova led four graduating classes, with big gaps in between: 1977, 1981, 1988 and 2003. She spent most of her time teaching abroad in 'Soviet Satellite States.' In post-Soviet Russia, she stayed abroad, establishing her school in Italy. She went back to the Vaganova Academy only ca-2000 to teach the Class of 2003 after the originally-scheduled teacher became ill and passed away. Also, note that the classes of 1977, 1981 and 1988 were 'shared' with other female pedagogues who developed the more classically-pure students, e.g. --

1977 - Tyuntina developed Irina Kirsanova, who became A#1 Prima Ballerina of the Maly & the greatest Esmeralda of the 80s/90s; Safronova's group was led by Rusanova, who I happened to love, but was considered 'different' and never went beyond Choryphee at the Kirov

1981 - the main group of girls was taught by Dudinskaya, with Margarita Kullik being #1; Safronova had Pankova

1988 - the main group was taught by Dudinskaya, with Zhelonkina leading the group; Safronova's main graduate was Marina Chirkova. (Nioradze was in Safronova's group only for post-graduate 'finishing,' as she graduated in Tblisi in 1987.)

I know that we're straying away from Skorik but that's the turn taken by this conversation. Skorik has only her own nervousness and lack-of-confidence to blame, as she had a very capable 'pure' teacher back in Perm (Mme Lidya Ulanova, who we see in the Beautiful Tragedy film).

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I wish I could explain what I mean. Again, I want to stress that I am not talking about leg extension (how high a leg can be raised). I am referring only to joint movement and the joint moving in the "wrong" way slightly (for lack of a better description since "wrong" is subjective.....many ballet dancers want hyper-extension in their legs).

I understand what you mean, Bart, having hyper-extended knees myself. You've been right with everything you've said about them so far and the challenges they pose to dancers. Many dancers are hyper extended, giving them a curvier standing line in arabesque. It's in "fashion" now but definitely was not in the past.

I also understand. My hyper extension is actually in the elbows and i fought against the backward bent look you describe my entire career and still to this day in tech. class. It's been a lifelong war for proper "line" and the hyper-extension wins 75% of the time, unfortunately.

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The whole thing is a big mess...the distorted ribcage, the dropped knee and the out of line/too high pointe of the rised leg, etc. It is interesting...I showed yesterday the two pictures to a waitress in a place I usually go for breakfast. She used to be a dancer, and she pointed rather at Valdes pic and told me that her line and leg/pointe shape and attitude pose looked old fashioned.

Ah, but doesn't Valdes take this more conservative placement in order to take an extremely extended balance which is simply not possible to hold in the overtly liberal placement used by Alina, Oxana and other uber long and flexy dancers in the pose. Both dancers are using variants of the technical aesthetics.... for polar opposite purposes and with the intent to achieve very different results. It's apples and oranges, in my humble opinion.

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I have slight hyper extension in the elbows too, although it tends to occur when I put my shoulders on my back. Years of bad posture and hunching over caused rounded shoulders and shoulder blades having a very hard time going down the back. So when I did Pilates my teachers wanted my shoulders on the back and in order to do that I would end up with slightly hyper-extended elbows due to trying to open the shoulders and make them go in the opposite direction they are used to which in turn caused me to press the eyes of my elbows forward in an attempt to get shoulder blades on the back, so I know what you mean.

I also taught Pilates for a short time to help a friend out who kept having people quit on her. I had pretty intense training and lots of practice working with people who volunteered to work with me as a trainee first. And then I worked on actual clients and I saw that most people who are hyper-extended reverted back to that hyper-extension the minute you took your eyes off them. I was constantly saying, "Put a micro bend in that knee!" (or elbow). I had a hard time following my own advice about the micro bend.

I had one Pilates teacher refer to our regular way that we hold our bodies as our "default" like how the computer goes back to its default settings. I thought that was a good term to use. Some people's default is hyper-extension and training them out of it is practically an impossible task. It is not a simple matter of pointing it out to them and they correct it and then hold their arm or leg correctly from then on. They don't "feel" right with the micro bend in the knee or elbow. In fact, it feels unstable at times.

With all that said I am no expert on hyper-extension or anything, so I never mean to sound like I have the answers. Just always giving people something to think about as a possibility.

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Comments on YouTube are like posts on other discussion boards: unofficial news and not permitted on Ballet Alert unless a Foreign Correspondent gives a general overview of the tenor of discussions there.

I'm sure our members can find lots of opinions, allegations, speculations, and news elsewhere; just because it's not allowed here doesn't mean it's invisible and not discussable elsewhere.

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Today in Baden Baden Oxana Skorik dances the first Swan Lake and on 26th December she debuts as Masha. It seems her star is ever ascending - a first performance and a debut in a very short space of time? I wonder what Baden Baden will make of her? I am certain they will never have seen a more unlikely Masha.

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My experience living in Germany 20 years ago is that Germans are very knowledgeable and cultured people. Baden-Baden, which I visited, is probably Germany's version of Palm Beach (very wealthy town), so I would think you would send the same cast that you would send to a place like New York when you tour Baden-Baden. But maybe things have changed. I don't know. The Mariinsky tours there a lot, so they would know better than I do.

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I am certain they will never have seen a more unlikely Masha.

Agreed. Strangest casting I think maybe ever.

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Baden-Baden is a rather small spa town in the Black Forest which has a very huge, new Festspielhaus since 1998, Germany’s biggest opera and concert hall with 2500 seats. The audience there is not as experienced as a New York audience. They are rich and have to pay very high ticket prices, as the Festspielhaus is the only German Opera House working without subsidies, but with the exception of some balletomanes who mostly come from Stuttgart or from France, they see rather few ballet performances. Nonetheless they know the Mariinsky Ballet very well because the company has been guesting there since 12 years. Baden-Baden is also a town where many Russians live, so there’s a huge Russian audience there.

The Mariinsky mostly brings the Petipa classics and a gala, but they also show a new or modern piece every season. They always bring some of their top artists, for the last years Lopatkina was there almost every year for a Swan Lake and the gala, this year it’s Vishneva for the gala and Kondaurova for Swan Lake. I’ve seen Asylmuratova, Ruzimatov, Zelensky, Makhalina, Nioradze, Fadeyev, Dumchenko, Pavlenko there over the years.

I saw Le Parc on Friday with Kondaurova and Zverev and was really surprised how fine Preljocaj’s ballet worked with the company – it was a very intense, subtle, tender performance, especially by Kondaurova. No, I did not see the Skorik Swan Lake, sorry.

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I saw Le Parc on Friday with Kondaurova and Zverev and was really surprised how fine Preljocaj’s ballet worked with the company – it was a very intense, subtle, tender performance, especially by Kondaurova. No, I did not see the Skorik Swan Lake, sorry.

I think Le Parc is a love-it-or-hate-it ballet, and unfortunately, I hate it! But I am very glad if you enjoyed it! At least you were spared the Skorik Swan Lake though!

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At least you were spared the Skorik Swan Lake though!

Well I'm not - I'd still like to see for myself how good or bad she is.

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At least you were spared the Skorik Swan Lake though!

Well I'm not - I'd still like to see for myself how good or bad she is.

Well, if you are going to see her - good luck! I have seen her for myself. I saw her Lilac Fairy this month in Saint Petersburg, and I can tell you she was not good. She made a complete mess of her variation, fell off pointe several times, did not get round her pirouettes, and just did not have any fluency at all. Nowhere was there the warmth, radiance or technique of a true Mariinsky Lilac Fairy. I am at a complete loss to understand why she would be chosen for opening Swan Lake in Baden Baden, or Masha.

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Baden-Baden is a rather small spa town in the Black Forest which has a very huge, new Festspielhaus since 1998, Germany’s biggest opera and concert hall with 2500 seats. The audience there is not as experienced as a New York audience. They are rich and have to pay very high ticket prices, as the Festspielhaus is the only German Opera House working without subsidies, but with the exception of some balletomanes who mostly come from Stuttgart or from France, they see rather few ballet performances. Nonetheless they know the Mariinsky Ballet very well because the company has been guesting there since 12 years. Baden-Baden is also a town where many Russians live, so there’s a huge Russian audience there.

The Mariinsky mostly brings the Petipa classics and a gala, but they also show a new or modern piece every season. They always bring some of their top artists, for the last years Lopatkina was there almost every year for a Swan Lake and the gala, this year it’s Vishneva for the gala and Kondaurova for Swan Lake. I’ve seen Asylmuratova, Ruzimatov, Zelensky, Makhalina, Nioradze, Fadeyev, Dumchenko, Pavlenko there over the years.

I saw Le Parc on Friday with Kondaurova and Zverev and was really surprised how fine Preljocaj’s ballet worked with the company – it was a very intense, subtle, tender performance, especially by Kondaurova. No, I did not see the Skorik Swan Lake, sorry.

Are you going to Oxana Skorik's Masha debut? If you are, please write a review on here and let us know how the performance goes. I do think it is a completely bizarre casting choice and would to hear about it!

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I have seen her for myself. I saw her Lilac Fairy this month in Saint Petersburg, and I can tell you she was not good. She made a complete mess of her variation, fell off pointe several times, did not get round her pirouettes, and just did not have any fluency at all.

Ditto with her Black Swan in Miami a while ago...almost falling on the floor during the fouettes.

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Are people saying that this dancer is Exskorikable?

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