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Climbing the Ranks as a Classicist?

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Cygnet made the following post in the "Kirov at Kennedy Center Romeo & Juliet" thread. As she brings up an interesting point -- and hot topic for debate -- perhaps it warrants its own thread? I subtitle this thread "The Maya Syndrome" in honor of the Kirov soloist Maya Dumchenko, who electrified Washington, DC, with her portrayal of Juliet. This was a very rare look at one of several capable Kirov classical soloists who dance not-too-often at home & very rarely on tour. She is not alone, of course.

Maybe we can focus on the stylistic parts of this debate, rather than politics? There are politics involved in each and every ballet company -- maybe in each organization on earth, not just ballet! Not everybody who deserves to be promoted in life will be promoted. However, Cygnet makes a point: that there seems to be a trend to stifle (for lack of better word) the more traditional classical dancers. I've observed this, in full force, since the early '90s...even Assylmuratova and Makhalina were considered as stretching the bounds of traditional classicism with their highly-arched backs, chests sticking out a bit farther than was taught before, higher-than-normal leg extensions. Some might even go further back -- to the extended lines of Galina Mesentzeva in the 1970s & early 80s -- to point to 'the beginning of the end of Vaganova classicism' at the Kirov.

So what does everyone else think? Is this observation valid? Is pure Vaganova-style classicism no longer valued & rewarded at the Kirov-mariinsky? Should it be rewarded or is ballet supposed to evolve continuously, with the model of what-is-best changing from generation to generation?

***Cygnet's Original Post***

...I have often wondered why Maya has been sidelined. And now it's 12 years since her graduation. I for one am ecstatic that

she was included on this tour! I wish I were there! The last time she set foot on American soil was during

the July 1999 Met engagement. I recall that she was flawless as Fairy Coulante in the 1890 "Beauty."

One thing truly puzzles me. You recalled that Dumchenko was considered, "practically the 'equal' "

of Vishneva? Practically? IMHO Dumchenko is more than Vishneva's equal; she's superior, particulary

in the academic technique department. That's a debate for another thread.

This may be politically incorrect, but I'm going to say it. The fact that Maya still labors in the soloist rank, while younger rhythm-less gymnasts are promoted at the Maryinsky, is mindboggling to me. The fact that the illustrious panel, whose names you listed, were floored by Maya speaks volumes, and amplifies this

discrepancy. Not that competition medals or prizes are the be-all or end-all of a successful career; it certainly helps puts one on the radar-screen. But I think that Dumchenko's career chronicle could have, should have been very different than the hand she's been dealt. For better or worse the evaluation panel, past and present is the box office; cash is king. And it's this altar at which the Vazievs worship. And if that means fielding expressionless youngsters that favor 6 o'clock extensions over true St. Petersburg classicism and artistry, so be it.

IMO this 'policy' is probably one of, if not, the primary reason why certain "name" dancers with elastic-girl capabilities, have been promoted over dancers like Maya - and dancers such as Tarasova and Zhelonkina, (both of whom are still soloists). Even Pavlenko, (who is employed as little as possible - even as the youngest female Principal Dancer), has to wait for long intervals, in some cases years to revisit a role. An example of this, would be her most recent St. Petersburg "Giselle" in September 2006: Only her second performance of this role at home on the Maryinsky stage on Sept. 22, and her sixth in her 11 year career). Six performances in 11 years; two at home - the first being her debut in 2001, and the second - 5 years later. That's inexplicable.

There are a few others of like gifts and temperament, who like the above, are fighting like generals without an army just for one opportunity to take center stage at home and on prestigious tours. Opportunities that rarely come, if ever. Apparently, in the Maryinsky Ballet of 2007 if one doesn't have the support of Management, while certain trendy "aesthetic" values are promoted over traditional values, your career will be stifled. The $1 Billion Question is what is now considered traditional in the Maryinsky - and what does this mean for it's future? Now that's a topic for another thread.

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