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Fascinating Perm Ballet Academy docum now avail.

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Just a quick note to let everyone know that a PAL-system DVD of "A Beautiful Tragedy" can now be purchased on-line via its Norwegian production company, Faction Film:


One of the featured students, Oksana Skorik (then 15), is among the up-and-coming corps dancers of the Kirov-Mariinsky Ballet....and took part in the recent NYC-City Center tour.

There are plans to release the DVD in NTSC (North Am.) at some future date.

p.s. This is the new Perm Academy docum. of which clips have been available on YouTube for several months. It has become quite the "YouTube classic" with over 500,000 hits. Now it will be nice to see the full film in a more relaxing manner, on a TV screen.

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I also cannot wait to see the full version. I've seen it on youtube many times and although it casts so much negativity on the Perm school (Russian choregraphic system in general), it is fascinating. Why is Skorik not listed on the corps section of the Mariinsky website yet?

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I also cannot wait to see the full version. I've seen it on youtube many times and although it casts so much negativity on the Perm school (Russian choregraphic system in general), it is fascinating. Why is Skorik not listed on the corps section of the Mariinsky website yet?

I don't know. She was definitely on the roster for City Center. She may have also come to Washington, DC in January but I'm not certain; need to check my playbills.

I suspect that the Mariinsky webmaster is a bit behind in updating certain sections of the site.

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Oh my. I've just realized that the second leading girl in this movie -- the 'pretty & popular student' Masha Menshikova (age 16 in the film) -- is the same Maria Menshikova who I 'discovered' during the Perm Ballet's recent Tchaikovsky Gala in East Lansing, MI!!! I wrote in this forum, a couple of months ago:

Nutcracker Act II ...Adagio from the Pas de Deux-a-six for Sugarplum Fairy, Her Prince and Four Cavaliers

Maria Menshikova – Sugarplum

Rostislav Deshitsky – Her Prince

......... The Waltz was immediately followed by the Pas de Deux Adagio for Sugarplum and her prince plus four supporting cavaliers. This is when we were treated to the Perm Ballet’s youngest soloist and ‘secret weapon’ for future greatness: take the face of the very young Vishneva in the mid-90s, add the pout & ‘airs’ of the young Ananiashvili, combined with the legs and technique of Nadezhda Pavlova and you get Maria Menshikova. I have no doubt that we will be reading about her in bigger stages years from now; for the time being, Perm had better hold on to her tightly.

So this is the famous 'Masha' of David Kinsella's film....and the 'rival' of Oksana Skorik, the more talented but less gorgeous, less popular student. To think that I saw both of these now-professional dancers in the USA within weeks of each other -- Masha (now 19) as a star of the Perm Ballet, Oksana (now 18) as a new corps member of the Kirov. I wonder who among them -- or possibly both -- will be the more famous in the ballet world 15 years from now?

Now, more than ever, I am dying to see this documentary in full.

p.s. A third subject of the film, then-graduating 18-yr-old Nadezhda Barentseva (now 21), also performed in the Perm Ballet's gala in East Lansing, in the Swan Lake Pas de Trois. Very cool.

p.s.s. Yet another interesting coincidence: A fellow-classmate of Oksana & Masha in the Perm Academy's Graduating Class of 2006 was Maria Shirinkina...who went straight to the Kirov corps in fall '06...recently promoted to choryphee at the Kirov-Mariinsky. Shirinkina was praised by many on this forum for her demi-solo appearances (odalisque, Chopiniana demi, etc.) at City Center.

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I can't help but think there might be a "mistake" in calculations, because my 'perfect weight' would be 72 pounds, and I don't think a dancer could have the muscle required to dance at 72 pounds, perfect weight or no perfect weight.

Does anyone who's familiar with Russian ballet schools know about this 'perfect weight' calculation?

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Okay, I talked to my hubby and he said that there is some formula for weight/height but boys usually aren't subjected to it because there usually isn't any weight problems aside from not enough muscle. The girls are different; he remembers them always dieting, "doing stupid stuff to make their weight goal". (He graduated from the Seleznev Choreographic Institute in AlmaAta-was a partner of Nadia Gracheva before she went to Moscow) He did say that there is another documentary of the Perm School from the late 80's or early 90's-he can't remember the name-that really "exposed the school and showed what really happens at Perm". He worked in Yekaterinburg with many Perm graduates; he said many had issues with weight and eating disorders, more than graduates of the other schools. My husband said that the Perm school is well known in the Russian ballet community for being "crazy about weight-more than Petersburg or Moscow. The director (not mentioning any anmes) used to base tour casting on weight-who was skinnier or lost weight faster got to go on tour." We're both interested in seeing this film and will be ordering it this week. Like Natalia, I will be following the careers of these girls in the future.

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According to updates from the director Oksana is now 5'9" and 97 pounds. Yikes. And he spoke in interviews about Russians calculating 'perfect weight' which is your height in cm minus 127. Wow.
Then she is very underweight, even by this arbitrary measure, cause 5'9'' = 175.26cm

175.26 - 127= 48.26kg = 48.26*2.2 pounds = 106.17 pounds

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......He did say that there is another documentary of the Perm School from the late 80's or early 90's-he can't remember the name-that really "exposed the school and showed what really happens at Perm". ....

That must be Terpsichore's Captives -- the the mid-1990s film that focused on the famous Perm teacher, Ludmilla Sakharova, and one of her prized students at the time, Natalia Balachnicheva (who is presently prima ballerina of the Kremlin Ballet in Moscow). There was a whole lot of screaming and crying going on in that film, if memory serves.

Thanks to your husband for his insights!

p.s. I heard that there was a sequel to Terpsichore's Captives, focusing on Balachnicheva's pro career...but I have not seen it.

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I wonder if Terpsichore's Captives is the film that I saw a bit of while I was in Switzerland--it centered around a ballet student who wanted to play the violin, but her mother had made her stay in ballet school. Her teacher appeared to be, frankly, abusive.

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That's the one! He told me that after the film, many of the Sakharova's graduates accused her of abuse and really put everything out on the table. Apparently, it was quite the scandal!

Does anyone know where I can find a copy of Terpsichore's Captive? I'd love to see it!

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Although I don't remember the title Terpsichore's Captives, I remember seeing a 90's documentary about the school at Perm. It was a film about a group of Irish girls studying at the school and was as much about their bewilderment at finding themselves in the alien post glasnost society that prevailed at the time, than about the ballet.

Madame Sakharova came across as an absolute sadist, though her methods weren't used on the newcomers; in fact the Irish contingent was complaining that they were being virtually ignored and had been lured to the school under false pretences. It was hard not to agree with them as they were certainly being sidelined and the only interest shown was for the hard currency they provided.

I can't remember too much about weight issues but in the fifteen or so years since the film was made dancers bodies have become a lot thinner, a very strange phenomenon when you consider that the western world battles with obesity to the point where here in the UK it has become a government obsession. Anorexia may have serious consequences, but anorexics are few compared to the number here in Britain that are eating themselves to death.

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I agree. I have had several teachers in my school who are Russian Trained and they are wonderful. The classes are strict and focused but they are extremely kind people, some of my best friends. I grew up in New Zealand and there were teachers there who were notorious for hitting their students. The Chinese and Japanese have also been accused of it. I think it was more the cultural climate of slapping kids that was socially acceptable 30 years ago and is not now.

I googled the film and it is shown at several film festivals still I would love to see it. If anyone knows how to get copy I would like to view it. I obviously am speculating I wonder if anyone on the board has studied at Kirov, Bolshoi or Perm school and can shed some light.

I also loved A dancers life. The Russian teacher in that film that shows the footage of Nureyev is really interesting. I find her voice actually calming and soothing. She is so strong in how she instructs I think that as I dancer I (when I was a dancer) would feel confident and secure in that class. Anyone here experience that teacher. The dancers seem so focused and assured in that class as they hold those positions and move there head so definitely to what she is asking for. It is quiet fascinating.

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I received my copy. A beautiful and fascinating film, which is sure to re-invigorate the old debates on "ballet training and anorexia" if it be shown on American TV! The version that I received seems to be the longer one (58 minutes) with an epilogue on Oksana Skorik's present situation, including her graduation two years after the main film. It also mentions that she joined the Kirov corps soon after that graduation in 2007. The amazing thing about the epilogue is how much 'healthier' Oksana looks now, even though she is her naturally-thin self. Oksana also makes a brief statement acknowledging that she was indeed very ill with anorexia when the original film was shot.

A special delight of the film is the rare footage (in the USA) of Perm prima ballerina Natalia Moiseyeva as the Sugarplum Fairy...as well as coaching Oksana for her end-of-term performances. Moiseyeva was the 'gentler' of Oksana's two coaches.

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