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#166 Natalia

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 05:17 AM

....any student showing "weak turnout and feet" would never have been allowed to graduate from Vaganova Academy, ....


This is the single most amazing fact in her story. Many, many of us are incredulous as to how this slipped through the system! Read Catherine Pawlick's tome for clues. Thank goodness, the teachers who allowed this to happen are no longer at the academy.

#167 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 05:36 AM


...Posted Image


Thanks for posting this photo, cubanmiamiboy. This says it all, doesn't it?


It does indeed,sadly...

#168 Tiara

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 07:15 AM


....any student showing "weak turnout and feet" would never have been allowed to graduate from Vaganova Academy, ....


This is the single most amazing fact in her story. Many, many of us are incredulous as to how this slipped through the system! Read Catherine Pawlick's tome for clues. Thank goodness, the teachers who allowed this to happen are no longer at the academy.

I have read Catherine Pawlick's book and am not sure what you mean? I am very surprised to read your comment. I have read many reports and seen videos on the selection process for the Vaganova academy and the girls who audition are rigorously scrutinized in all parts of their anatomy, not only by teachers who have the experience to know exactly what physique child they are looking for, but also by medical practioners. The medical practioners in particular are obviously vastly experienced in anatomy and they can determine from various statistical reports what kind of physique any child will have. The most important part of this is to check for turnout, and no prospect candidate would be accepted with poor turnout. The weeding out process throughout the whole of any student's time at the Vaganova is very rigorous, and any technically weak students are simply not permitted to continue in the academy. They certainly would never allow such a student either to graduate or to be admitted into the Mariinsky and promoted. Could you please tell me which Vaganova teachers you are referring to, and what was their exact position at the Vaganova?

#169 Mashinka

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 07:23 AM

If these paragons of the teaching profession genuinely have the expertise you claim, how come they rejected Glurjidze and Kolesnikova?

#170 mumwang

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 08:02 AM

May I quote some Japanese individual's comment on Skorik's Swan Lake performed on 29th Nov 2012 (matinee) (translated by fififi):

"Although Skorik looked gorgeous when she made the ending balance of pique arabesque pose, her details, such as, the developpe and the control of cambre derriere were non existent. Her sissonne and arabesques were not really beautiful, too. It was just astonishing that her feet were not working well on her sur le cou-de-pied at the ending of the adagio. Also, her supposedly entreshat-passe became a royal-ish and then omitted the last passe and so on. She just down-graded and/or omitted so many important pas and therefore should be considered outside the assessment range as a Mariinsky Odette/Odiel."


I will preface my comments by saying that I fully respect your right to dislike a certain dancer and her dancing and that its only for the sake of balance that I think I ought to respond to your comments about skoryk and Kondaurova/kolb. I agree that the sur le cou-de-pied at the end of the adagio could have been better but then there are dancers that beat that working leg with such urgency and crudeness without sufficient turn out or holding the thigh in place and restricting the movement to below the knee, that while hers seemed too small in scale and too constrained I did not see it as a major flaw. With time perhaps she will learn to do it with clarity but without sacrificing the delicacy. As for the arabesques I can only say that while it was not the rounded fullness nor the luscious contour of Kondaurova's line, I did find it a fine classical line just different. I don't have issues with the sissones, as for control I thought her legato work was fine, yes it would have looked a lot better if she didn't slam down her leg when she made the transition from supported developpe into an individual manuovere. Perhaps the comment was meant to address her black swan variation solo in which yes i think I saw at least one over extended devloppe that was not well controlled given that she veered too much of horizontal in order to achieve that over 180 look which yes, I don't like either. As for the entrechat passe, i thought she she missed one passe in the middle or was slightly slow in the middle thus leading to some scrambling after that. I agree that the commentator that you quoted has made valid points but I think that the two of us are coming from different POVs. I didn't expect a flawless performance and as long as individual mistakes did not mar the overall impression I was willing to give her chance. I saw potential and I am not going to be fixated on certain technical issues. Also of course 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' and aesthetic/artistic taste vary from person to person as discussion on this thread has evidently demonstrated..

As for Kondaurova/Kolb I thought him a fine partner and I respected the fact that despite the height issue he partnered with consideration. I was also sufficiently moved at this performance to be prepared to negate his obviously weakened technique but I must say that I still thought him a fine actor. Again each to our own...

#171 Tiara

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 08:09 AM

If these paragons of the teaching profession genuinely have the expertise you claim, how come they rejected Glurjidze and Kolesnikova?

I am from the UK so am familiar with Elena Glurjidze. I am not as familiar with Kolesnikova, but I know that both of these ballerinas were accepted by the Vaganova on their first audition. Are you telling me that both Glurjidze and Kolesnikova have horrible turnout and that Vaganova should never have accepted them, and that that proves the Vaganova selection process knows nothing about turnout? Please could you clarify?.

#172 Mashinka

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 08:14 AM

My point is that neither was accepted into the Kirov company and that both reported serious psychological bullying and discouragement from their teacher. Kolesnikova has danced extensively in the UK by the way.

#173 cinnamonswirl

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 08:50 AM


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.


Hyperextension presents its own challenges, but learning to control your hyperextension and use it appropriately is part of ballet training. If a dancer cannot control her (his) hyperextension the majority of the time, then are not dancing at a professional level, IMO. For one thing, it's dangerous. Pushing back into hyperextension is bad for the joint, as you stated, and leads to the overuse of other muscles, which can present a whole other set of problems.

That said, ballet training has evolved. When I was a child, we hyperextended folk were taught to push back into our hyperextension, have a gap between our heels in first etc. because it creates a better line (clearly that is debatable), and no one realized it was bad for the joints. Or at least, that knowledge was not wide-spread, even at major ballet schools. When I was in high school, people realized that pushing back wasn't a great idea and we had to relearn how to stand.

Most dancers I know/know of have knee problems and lots and lots of older dancers have had knee replacements. I think part of that is just ballet technique (the plié contradiction - you can never plié too much but too many pliés overworks the joint) but I bet a lot of it is due to hyperextension. Look at Darcey Bussell. She retired because of hip problems, but if you look at the S-line her legs made, her knees and hips are not lined up and anatomically-speaking that is not healthy.

#174 Helene

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 10:52 AM

There had been videos on YouTube of Somova as a student, with, I think, one year missing in between. In the first couple of years, she displayed the turnout and line that one would expect from a promising, top student at the Vaganova School. By the time she was a teenager, however, the distortions of extension and line were already present, as well as the weak turnout.

Weak turnout is not always an issue of physical limitation, which would have been spotted during the school audition process: it can also be a matter of not using it properly. The same thing is true of feet, with the complication of adding pointe shoes, and since most eight-year-olds aren't experienced on pointe, so that the audition process can only take potential into consideration.

I've seen Somova live and in video, and simply disagree that her turnout and feet are strong.

Pawlick discusses an aesthetic shift to "Western" by the Mariinsky management, and dancers like Somova met that demand, which was based on a distorted view of ballet in the West, emphasizing a physical caricature rather than an underlying movement quality. Somova was assigned to Vaziev's wife, a dancer who was the antithesis of her student in style and whose technique was rock solid -- most of us saw her Odette/Odile from Wolf Trap so many years ago -- and Vaziev made her the poster child for this aesthetic and promoted her as its exemplar, which did her a huge disservice. Institutions like schools can't just turn on a dime, and, thankfully, not all of the babies were thrown out with the bathwater.

#175 Cygnet

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 03:46 PM

I've read Pawlick's book too. I interpret it as not only a hommage to Vaganova's life and legacy, but a resounding repudiation by the old guard teachers and coaches, such as Gennady Selyutsky, Gabriella Komleva, prima ballerina Uliana Lopatkina and the late Ninelka Kurgapkina of the new aesthetic of performance style and approach to daily work, that's been de rigueur since the 1994-1995 season. By 'old guard,' I mean the people who know what the style of the company is, remember what it used to be not so long ago, (and lament) what's going on now. They discuss in detail how they have tried to inculcate and perpetuate Vaganova's style in their students and the dancers of the company. Those of us who know this company, the personnel, the institution, the 'culture' of the Mariinsky Theatre, may be able to guess which primas (circa 1986-1992) became the prototypes of this 'new way of doing things,' and from whom Fateev's current favorites have "descended" both aesthetically and artistically.

Somova graduated in 2003. Her graduating teacher was Ludmilla Safronova, who was one of Agrippina's pupils. She was a soloist with the Maly/Mussorgsky - (now) Mikhailovsky Theatre in the 60s. After she retired she was sent by the Soviets to plant schools in places such as Vietnam, and small towns in the Soviet bloc. After those assignments, she came to teach at Vaganova Academy. Fast forward: In 2003 Ludmilla Kovaleva was on illness leave, when the graduating females' preparation would have been her responsibility. Safronova was assigned to take Kovaleva's place and prepare the girls. Earlier, Birdsall mentioned wine tasting as an analogy re opera singers and ballet dancers. To put this in perspective, consider this: Nureyev said when commencement time rolled around at Vaganova, that "...Every year (was) a vintage year." Not so: Under Safronova's guidance, the class of 2003, re the females was in fact a comparatively weak class compared to (immediate) prior years, i.e. early 90s - 2002. 2003 would be the first and last Vaganova graduating class she would prepare.

#176 Helene

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 04:11 PM

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.

#177 Cygnet

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 04:23 PM

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.

#178 Tiara

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 04:40 PM

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.

#179 Birdsall

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 08:58 AM

Posted Image
Posted Image


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.

#180 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 09:33 AM

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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