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#46 Cygnet

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 01:21 PM

...We all know life is unfair, and I think we might be okay with some going up the ranks faster than others more deserving (afterall, artistry is a subjective thing....

Per Yuri Fateev's endorsement of Skoryk, (and her most famous, or shall I say, infamous, immediate predecessor), the characteristics that he favors and looks for are indeed subjective. Physical characteristics trump technique, talent and artistry. His view is the prevailing aesthetic in the company right now. Once he has decided to "Mr. Lermontov" a young dancer, one must understand that what you're watching unfold is an experiment. It's an experiment that's being conducted on the dancer, and on us, the audience. This is the same play with new actors.

Here's the thing. Fateev will hype a dancer at home, frequently cast that dancer, and build up that dancer in the media before a major tour. This will build curiosity, put a new name out there to generate chatter for publicity, and to sell tickets. That's nothing unsual. A new wunderkind is promo'd to the hilt, and then, whatever the outcome, he lets the chips fall where they may without changing course. This is key: He doesn't change course, and that's the problem. For example, I reference the opening night of the Mariinsky at Covent Garden on August 9, 2009 with the Lavrovsky, "Romeo & Juliet." The media hype preceded the media fallout after the first night. There were a few critics who grasped for excuses, but the consensus was near unanimous. Each leading Mariinsky ballerina who appeared after opening night, mounted a collective salvage operation for the engagement after the opening night Juliet made her debut in the role, then put the period on the engagement as Aurora.

Fast forward: October 2012, prior to the U.S. tour he's short two principals and another 1st soloist due to pregnancies. How does he cover the absent dancers? Fortunately, he has two able dancers, a prima (highly capable), and another 1st soloist,
2/3 of whom divided the "Lakes," with Oxana. Here's the problem. Fateev majors in the minors, acknowledges the superficial as
important (his Swan Queen's ideal physique), and, without looking ahead to the future, doesn't seem interested in developing those he doesn't favor or meet his criteria. There are many people in the company who are highly capable of stepping up to leading roles, and yet are never cast nor packed for a major tour. Life's vicissitudes - such as multiple pregnancies can and do happen. As Director of the ballet (interim or permanent), it's part of the job to at least be prepared for things like this. Under the circumstances, Fateev coped as well as can be expected. But what if he didn't have Kondaurova or Kolegova to step in? Both
Lopatkina and Vishneva were unavailable. Dasha Pavlenko (still) hasn't resumed O/O, so what would've been his options? Perhaps this situation might be a management wake up call.

As Catherine stated earlier, everyone who works in the Mariinsky Theatre is subordinate to Maestro Gergiev. It's been obvious,
(at least to me), for years that he's quite happy with the Ballet's condition. Additionally, he's extremely happy with the affirmative stance that Fateev takes as 'yes man' re Maestro's leadership and policies. In the case of Skoryk, I haven't seen her live, however, based on the reports posted here, and having read different official reviews, I believe that she does have potential. However, right now, it seems that she isn't ripe for the rank of 1st Soloist, let alone ready for primetime in leading roles, nor the central assignment on opening nights. That said, she requires alot of guidance and preparation, just like anyone; especially someone who has been Fateev-tapped for Principal Dancer. If she can't deliver when it counts, she needs to be held back until and unless she can do so - and with consistency.

#47 Birdsall

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 02:46 PM

I wonder if all the teachers/coaches could have a meeting with Fateyev and Gergiev and express concern about quality and the hours spent helping dancers not quite ready vs. the lack of hours spent coaching excellent dancers who deserve more coaching to perfect roles. Maybe the coaches do not want to speak up or they already have and feel it is like talking to a brick wall.

#48 Birdsall

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 04:44 PM

Since Ivanova came up (I brought her up), a friend sent me an article on her. It seems to explain why she is still a Coryphee. She has had an interruption and seems to put her personal life at the top of her priorities (which is a good thing) and is also taking pedagogy classes, so it sounds like she has a full life. I'm glad to hear that. I'm assuming I can post this link, since it is something we were discussing. I was very heartened to read that someone who seemed "stuck" in the lower ranks actually seems to be having a fullfilling life anyway.

http://www.ballet-da...vanova2006.html

To get back to the topic....someone told me he saw Skorik in California and she has worked hard to improve her technique. He says there are still issues though. But it is nice to know. It sounds like she's a Fateyev favorite, and so we are going to see a lot of her. So we have to be glad that she's improving.

#49 Drew

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 06:10 PM

It is likely that almost everyone on this thread with experience seeing the Mariinsky over the years has had experiences similar to mine--experiences that, for me, give these discussions a quality of unreality. Though, indeed, I have only been able to see the company very sporadically over the years...

Certainly, when I first saw the Kirov in the early 80's one thing that struck me was that although they had a lot of principal dancers I did not quite 'get' (including dancers much admired in the Soviet Union such as Mezentzeva), I never doubted I was seeing serious, skilled artists in complete command of what they were doing. I never had to make allowances or create a back story to explain what I was seeing, praise someone for having 'improved' or focus on potential--EVEN when I scrunched up my brow in puzzlement and thought -- "so, that's what a non-defecting Kirov ballerina looks like...not what I imagined exactly."

Everyone on stage, as a friend of mine said, "knew what it was supposed to look like" and, as it went without saying, had the skills to make it look that way. (This was in Petipa and Fokine I should underline.) And, in Pacquita, say, up and down the line, one soloist was better than the last: a display of as high quality classical dancing as I had ever seen. I had some favorites but never worried twice about the "cast"--certainly not when it came to the company's women: whoever was dancing and whatever the role, she was sure to know what she was doing and be doing it at the highest level.

Then, at the end of 80's I saw a performance on tour where that was not entirely true. I remember the exact moment in Pacquita when someone seemed to lose their poise and dance with less than perfect security and I was--at the time, without irony--SHOCKED! shocked that such a thing was possible at the Kirov...Some on this board may remember too towards the very end of the Vinogradov era, some fans were puzzled by the Makhalina phenomenon which was attributed to favoritism and an inexplicable taste for hyper-extended limbs: little did we imagine what was coming.

The season with the reconstructed Sleeping Beauty at the Met was the first, ironically enough, to break the spell for me. I would take Sergeyev danced the way they used to dance almost any time over the reconstruction the way they were dancing it at the Met. I saw not one but two less than ideal Auroras in the company of Sizova, Kolpakova, in more recent memory, Lezhnina. (Of course I wouldn't mind seeing the reconstruction danced ... the way they used to dance.)

I actually have seen Somova (everyone's exhibit A for the prosecution) give what I judged a lovely and, indeed, very appealing performance in Ratmansky and a quite nice one in Balanchine (allowing that the Mariinsky's Balanchine is not my favorite) ... but it's really unspeakably depressing that a company that once had such incomparably high standards in the pre-Balanchine era classics is so out of touch with its legacy that fans find themselves debating just how much allowance should be made for ballerina x or whether ballerina y even deserves principal roles. Moreover these are fans who don't necessarily see eye to eye on everything: it's not simply one clique that happens to hate one dancer.

However, I will say that as my narrative above suggests I think the problem is about more than a couple of controversial dancers--dancers about whom there is still some range of opinion--and precedes the current regime and, perhaps, includes something strange in the company's own relation to its "post-Soviet" moment: including how it decides what parts of the Soviet legacy are to be kept, what revised or chucked altogether, and generally what modern ballet at the Mariinsky should look like (other than Balanchine as a rather obvious choice of choreographer) -- perhaps, too, in its relation to how the company should be financed -- etc.

#50 Paul Parish

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 08:06 PM

Thanks for posting that article about ivanova -- i saw her in the cygnets' dance in Berkeley and thougth she was visionary beautiful. I didn't know who it was, but asked Catherine Pawlick who that was [first cygnet out] and she identified her as "my friend Ivanova." Beautiful coupes, beautiful pas de chats.... like gelsey kirkland's, beautiful.

#51 Birdsall

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 05:42 AM

Paul,
Here is a pic a friend sent me from California. This might help you identify the one you mean. In this pic the second swan is Ivanova. Is that the dancer you were referring to that you thought was wonderful or are you talking about the first one who is Chmil ?according to my friend who took the pictures and was introduced to them by a Russian speaking friend...that friend said the Little Swans were from left to right Chmil, Ivanova, a girl from Moscow, and Shrinkina.
webkit-fake-url://D0809510-6BDE-41C9-A03B-ED402E72C744/image.tiff

#52 Birdsall

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 05:42 AM

Oh, the image doesn't seem to come through.

#53 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 07:12 AM

I actually have seen Somova (everyone's exhibit A for the prosecution)


Posted Image

#54 leonid17

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 07:16 AM

Perhaps her promotion has something to do with the five pregancies among the senior members of the company.

#55 Paul Parish

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 09:34 AM

Birdsall -- my friend said one of the cygnets was ill that night and Ivanova was the first one out.

Thanks for putting up the picture. it's the feet I would recognize her by, not the face -- the way she did coupe, the way she shaped her pas de chats was what was remarkable....

Leonid of course has a point -- with so many at the top of the hierarchy out, slots have opened up that have to be filled.

It's also the case that the movie has given Skoryk a following, and dancers with a following will pull people into the theater....

There are always many factors. Ballet, like opera, is a Gesammtkunstwerk. The Russians use the word spektaklo [sp?, which means [I guess] moving picture -- so the dancer's look is super-important. What you see is what you get. Vaganova herself was not a pretty girl, and she only made ballerina at the very end of her career, through the force and clarity of the way she moved, which was itself fascinating and made her beautiful when she moved. She was able to analyze this and pass on to others through her teaching....

#56 Birdsall

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 10:34 AM

Birdsall -- my friend said one of the cygnets was ill that night and Ivanova was the first one out.

Thanks for putting up the picture. it's the feet I would recognize her by, not the face -- the way she did coupe, the way she shaped her pas de chats was what was remarkable....

Leonid of course has a point -- with so many at the top of the hierarchy out, slots have opened up that have to be filled.

It's also the case that the movie has given Skoryk a following, and dancers with a following will pull people into the theater....

There are always many factors. Ballet, like opera, is a Gesammtkunstwerk. THe Russians use hte word spektaklo [sp?, which means [I guess] moving picture -- so the dancer's look is super-important. What you see is what you get. ]Vaganova herself was not a pretty girl, and she only made ballerina at the very end of her career, through the force and clarity of the way she moved, which was itself fascinating and made her beautiful when she moved. She was able to analyze this and pass on to others through her teaching....



Okay, that explains the discrepancy about the performance.

I agree with you. Beauty is a factor in ballet. I think there is some wiggle room however. You can have a distinctive look that some may not exactly find beautiful but intriguing. I find Tereshkina in that category. I think she has a unique look that has an attractive quality especially when combined with her beautiful dancing. She has an interesting look, but I don't think her looks are to everyone's taste simply because her look is very unique. I am disappointed she is out of commission due to pregnancy but happy for her. I think her Swan Lake is absolutely fabulous. She is a very evil Odile and a very gentle Odette. If Cristian is reading, Tereshkina does a standing balanced cambre on pointe (maybe there is a more technical term for this) during the coda although not the backward hopes on pointe (Cuban way).

I did not realize 5 were out due to pregnancy. Who are the five? Somova, Tereshkina, Matvienko, and who else? Just curious.

#57 amiaow

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 01:11 PM

Yana Selina is one but not sure about the other.

#58 Paul Parish

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 02:18 PM

Tereshkina is very strong -- the only one strong enough [management told me, during the intermission at Zellerbach] that Tereshkina is the only ballerina who can do the petite batterie in Odile's variation -- the double frappe into fondu after the pirouette in attitfude, before the big devellope in ecarte. None of the ballerinas did it here [though I'd bet Kondaurova could do it]. I asked point blank why they did not do it, and the answer was "because they can not do it."

#59 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 18 October 2012 - 08:52 PM

Tereshkina is indeed my favorite among the "new breed".


I asked point blank why they did not do it, and the answer was "because they can not do it."


Loved that. Enough of that "artistic choice" placebo...

#60 trieste

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Posted 19 October 2012 - 05:00 AM

I'm having a little bit of trouble picturing the exact motion Paul is describing. But I agree, Tereshkina is amazing. She makes it look so easy, no matter what it is she's doing.


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