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Skorik


Birdsall

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Look at the casting for April 8!

Performers

Princess Aurora: Hee Seo (ABT)

Prince Désiré: Vladimir Shklyarov

The Lilac Fairy: Yekaterina Kondaurova

The Diamond Fairy: Sofia Ivanova-Skoblikova

Carabosse the Wicked Fairy: Islom Baimuradov

Princess Florine: Maria Shirinkina

Bluebird: Alexei Timofeyev

This will be part of the Mariinsky Festival. Oxana Skorik will dance “La Bayadère” with Kimin Kim. I saw Hee Seo dance "Giselle" at the Festival two years ago and thought that she was excellent.

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Hee Seo is the only guest ballerina that I can recall for the moment being asked back to a Mariinsky Festival to perform a second major lead except for the remarkable Alina Cojocaru, who performed six(?!) and was perhaps the overall star of all the Festivals.

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When I think of the number of ballerinas at Mariinsky Theatre who could and should dance this role, this just makes me very sad. Oksana Skorik's Aurora debut was a long time coming, since she was scheduled to dance Aurora on at least two occasions before, and did not. Mariinsky Theatre gave her the highly experienced Ivanchenko as her partner, a dancer who, although he is in my opinion well past his technical prime, is probably the best partner in the company. She also had a wonderful Lilac Fairy in Kolegova. Technically, I think Skorik has improved a great deal - I have seen her on stage many times myself - but this great role is about more than technique. I never saw any femininity or flow of movement, or expression/artistry that would fit her for this role, which is, I believe, THE pinnacle of classicism for a ballerina. I think the audience might have seen technical COMPETENCE, up to a point, but did they see a true Mariinsky ballerina? Did they see artistry? I was not there, but I highly doubt it.

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I wondered if she would finally dance Sleeping Beauty. I think of Aurora as an allegro ballerina's role and I think of Skorik as an adagio ballerina and so would agree that Aurora is not the most obvious role for her. But I wouldn't mind seeing her dance it and certainly consider her an artist -- actually quite a lyrical one at times.

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I think the audience might have seen technical COMPETENCE, up to a point, but did they see a true Mariinsky ballerina? Did they see artistry? I was not there, but I highly doubt it.

One doesn't have to go to the Sahara to know it is hot in there. I have seen Skorik a few times in different roles-(most recently as O/O)-and although thinking that she has GREATLY improved since the first time I saw her years ago in a disastrous Black Swan, I have never felt that I was in the presence of a Mariinsky ballerina-(in the footsteps of the female legends that have graced such stage) . She looks to me as a capable soloist who can dance CERTAIN roles and with luck, without major anticipated mishaps. But that's about it.

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One doesn't have to go to the Sahara to know it is hot in there. I have seen Skorik a few times in different roles-(most recently as O/O)-and although thinking that she has GREATLY improved since the last-(and first)-time I saw her years ago in a disastrous Black Swan, I have never felt that I was in the presence of a Mariinsky ballerina-(in the footsteps of the female legends that have graced such stage) . She looks to me as a capable soloist who can dance CERTAIN roles and with luck, without major anticipated mishaps. But that's about it.

Completely agree.

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Of course she's not a Mariinsky ballerina, how could she when she's not a vaganova graduate, I feel insulted, this is THE Mariinsky Theater, "competence" is enough for a 4th grade vaganova student not for someone already dancing in the MT, this is THE Mariinsky theater and you must be a PERFORMER, you must create a story and move people to tears! how Skorik who does NOT have any of these attributes is dancing at the Mariinsky and even worst WHY ON GOD'S GREEN EARTH has she been named Principal dancer is beyond me, meanwhile true vaganova/Mariinsky dancers like Novikova (a true Prima and a brilliant Aurora) and Osmolkina(another lovely Aurora!) were overlooked in order to promote Skorik, this is disgusting. You just can't put a tutu on, be a favorite of the AD and be promoted Principal when you have NO attributes to be a principal.

Sorry for the rant, but I'm an overly emotional teenage girl and I'm seriously worried because if the Mariinsky is going to allow people with poor technique, two facial

expressions (maniacal grin/scared deer) and NO artistry be a "Principal" instead of true performers capable of create magic like the Vaganova graduates are,then I don't know if I will keep going to the ballet when I'm older, judging by what I see, I will not, I'd just keep watching my Kurgapkina/Kolpakova/Komleva/Terekhova/Shapchits/Lopatkina videos and I'll keep crying and asking what happened to the Mariinsky and why no one stopped this madness :(

Can only say I agree completely with all you say, and as for WHY this has been allowed to happen. Two words only suffice: Yuri Fateyev.

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".... the only one with that power is Maestro Gergiev....or is Fateev doing whatever he wants while the Maestro is abroad?

It isn't 'either/or;' it's 'yes' and 'yes.' Gnossie also posted, "

"You just can't put on a tutu, be a favorite of the AD and be promoted to Principal when you have NO attributes to be a Principal.

Friendly point of clarification: Fateyev is not an "AD;" he was appointed by Gergiev 9 years ago as 'Acting Ballet Director'

when former Ballet Director, Makhar Vaziev left for La Scala. Fateyev is now 'Deputy Director of the Ballet Company; Ballet Master.' After 12 years of successfully doing the work of an AD, Vaziev requested that title from the Maestro and the Maestro denied him the position. La Scala (and now the Bolshoi), did not. As to your second point about promotions to Principal, in the Kirov/Mariinsky of the past - no - such things were diligently avoided. In the Mariinsky of the last decade - yes - it has happened and continues to happen. Unfortunately, there will be no change in the status quo of the Mariinsky Ballet, until there is a change at the top of the Mariinsky Theatre org. chart. That means that either Gergiev retires or is dismissed. Neither scenario is likely to happen anytime soon. The reasons why are many. However, the main reason is that Gergiev is a successful brand for Russia. He is their ambassador of music, the "Face" of their nation's cultural elite, and has very close ties to the most powerful. The second reason is that Fateyev has the Maestro's ear and confidence. He is a "yes" man who doesn't make waves. This frees the Maestro, who doesn't care about the Ballet to jet set with his baton. Therefore, the Ballet is in the hands of Fateyev who has carte blanche to run it unchecked.

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Skorik has flaws--most ballerinas do including some of those mentioned in this thread as far her superior--but I don't always fully understand the horror she engenders.

It is clear from casting and interviews that Fatayev does not view Vaganova school training as essential for what he wants to see in leading dancers at the Mariinsky. That seems odd and unfortunate to many. I myself love the Vaganova school trained dancers and am concerned about what his attitude means, but I'm not inclined to focus that concern at any particular dancer he happens to favor who, though trained in Russia (and thus presumably from a Vaganova-system basis) isn't from the Vaganova school.

That is, I don't think the problem is Skorik (whose plush, lyrical dancing I have rather enjoyed and whose lines are beyond gorgeous so that when she relaxes and her movement flows she can be very beautiful). And I don't think it's Shirinkina or Chebykina for that matter. I know there are limited opportunities for dancers at any company, but the Mariinsky dances year-round sometimes touring and performing at home at the same time. Fateyev could support other dancers along with these if he chose. I also understand fan frustration when he doesn't cast this favorite or that. For my taste, Osmolkina is a great Mariinsky Aurora and should be dancing the role more. And I can't wait to see what happens with Stepanova at the Bolshoi.

But all that doesn't keep me from seeing things to like in Skorik's dancing. Video of her Act I Aurora suggests a creditable debut. And NOT unmusical. But even if one hates her dancing--what company hasn't had controversial principals? (When I start reading about Soviet ballet history I even notice conflicting reports about, say, Dudinskaya. Who...uh...got cast a lot :dry: .)

Like others on this thread I do worry or, at least, wonder a bit about overall shifts in the company's style and approach. And yet, I know that is what happens at institutions even when I mourn the changes. With new leadership at the Vaganova school that comes from the Bolshoi and, at the same time, new leadership at the Bolshoi from the Kirov/Mariinsky, it seems likely that the styles of both major Russian companies may morph a bit. Or, rather, continue to morph a bit. I'm not happy about it, but I don't assume it's all bad either. And I'm not inclined to blame it on Oxana Skorik.

Below is the video I mentioned--she seems a little tight in the entrance and is not at the level, say, of Osmolkina or Cojocaru, (I also agree it would be nice if she had a wider range of facial expressions.) But to my eyes still a debut with many lovely, classical qualities:

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Watching Skorik's Aurora (thank you Drew) I kept thinking of the contrast with Obratzsova's happy, good natured, graceful young girl on the verge of becoming a woman. There's a quality of spontaneity and joy conveyed by Obratzsova that makes this character real to us. She is adorable. Nothing of the kind is conveyed by Skorik -- her tense and superficial smile fails to hide her lack of joy, her bow to her mother conveys no affection, she does not appear uncertain about whether she should dance with the suitors, and so on. Her body now creates perfect shapes that have an impersonal beauty but do not convey to me anything about the character. She is clearly uncomfortable in the role but it is one that she has had to perform to "justify" her position as Mariinsky prima. It's a pity.

However, I completely agree that Skorik bears no blame for what is happening at Mariinsky. She has worked hard through many challenges, and I think we have to give her credit for that. It's not her fault that she is an inexpressive dancer; she is doing the best she can with her instrument. Surely nobody thinks she should have turned down the opportunities presented to her! No, she is merely a symptom of what has gone wrong at Mariinsky.

Here is Obratzsova as Aurora:


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Wonderful video of Obratzsova! Aurora is her "emploi" so to speak. (I haven't been as impressed, say, with video of her Nikiya.) Aurora is an ideal role for her. Less so for Skorik who is making her debut; that is, Aurora doesn't seem to be her emploi. However, she still may develop greater comfort with it -- I wouldn't mind seeing her try. I think emploi is important but can't always decide how important I think it should be.

But I guess it's clear I also find more about Skorik "impressive" which is to say genuinely beautiful and artistic (to recall something else said above), than others do. I'm not just writing to balance out attacks--though they do sometimes puzzle me. In addition to what I wrote above and elsewhere about her dancing, I find she has a kind of delicacy and air of vulnerability that is rather appealing too. (I have seen her twice live--both were what I considered quality performances. And of course seen a barrage of video. I can only wish I had the chance to see all the live performances of the Mariinsky others have seen!!)

The video of Skorik's Act I does suggest a performance that would be improved if she connected more fully with everyone around her.

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Good Lord...and here goes the funerary tempi so favored in Mother Russia...

Yes, it is a wider Russian tendency. Sometimes I'm okay with it--especially in adagio--but other times not so much. From the one time I've seen Kolegova live I would have said she can dance with speed but video of her Lilac Fairy at the same performance also seems unnecessarily slowish to me, though having some other quite lovely qualities.

Edited to add: thinking about emploi -- I'm intrigued to see video of Kolegova in this role, but a slower tempo makes more sense to me when there is a tall majestic Lilac Fairy, rather than a petite, elfin one:

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Thank you for the video! Kolegova looks lovely in the video although I feel the music is a bit slow... Is Kolegova petite? She looks quite short in all the videos but she looks average height in photographs..

It seems like short dancers like Osmolkina and Novikova are being overlooked in Mariinsky... Has it always been like this? All current principals at Mariinsky are very tall except Vishneva who is somewhat petite. Maybe Shapran will be promoted one day because of her height? I'm not saying she isn't qualified- it seems like being a good performer isn't enough to move up the rank at Mariinsky. This is just my opinion though.

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But I guess it's clear I also find more about Skorik "impressive" which is to say genuinely beautiful and artistic (to recall something else said above), than others do. I'm not just writing to balance out attacks--though they do sometimes puzzle me. In addition to what I wrote above and elsewhere about her dancing, I find she has a kind of delicacy and air of vulnerability that is rather appealing too.

Skorik's well-suited to abstract ballets imo (is that an "emploi"? idk) . One is unlikely to be distracted or annoyed by the lack of characterization in Diamonds, for example. I still can't get to "impressive", however, because of the academic quality of much of her dancing -- I see her thinking about steps rather than the music, and for me that's unforgivable, especially in a dancer with as much stage experience as Skorik has. (I wouldn't mind so much if she were a soloist, but as a principal -- yikes!)

I have to agree with you, Drew, that there is an "air of vulnerability" about her that is intriguing, as well as hints of darker feelings she has not yet explored in her dancing. In a ballet company other than Mariinsky, she might have become the "go-to gal" for dark, thorny modern works. Maybe someday she'll trade the tiaras and pink tutus for something that has more meaning for her. I would love to see that.

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Edited to add: thinking about emploi -- I'm intrigued to see video of Kolegova in this role, but a slower tempo makes more sense to me when there is a tall majestic Lilac Fairy, rather than a petite, elfin one:

Kolegova is a good example of a dancer who even in a role not ideally suited to her can nevertheless make something credible of it. It takes an imaginative dancer, with a lot of skill, but also a role that is not too far outside her physical appearance, personality and abilities.

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I do not think my taste is downgraded when I am watching Lopatkina, Somova, Novikova, Osmolkina, for example, and MANY others from the higher soloist ranks, dancing. THEY are still dancing at Mariinsky and are true Mariinsky ballerinas. There are many great ballerinas within the company still at corps level. That is what is so frustrating. I used to think the best course of action for those of us who dislike Skorik is simply to avoid her performances. That is what I try to do myself. It's not always possible though, especially when one has travelled to St Petersburg and has limited time there. Often I have said to myself, OK, I will just have to make the best of it, and maybe it will be OK. It never was. I sat very close to the stage for her second Raymonda, and could CLEARLY see the frozen smile and deer in headlights expression spoken about above. Anyone watching can see the careful coaching she has been given, and the general air she has of always thinking of the steps. She is not an artiste, and no, she should not be a Mariinsky soloist, no matter how beautiful her lines in isolated poses might be. However, Skorik cannot dance every night of the week, and although the number of first nights abroad and especially, number of Odette-Odiles, is disgraceful, it IS still possible to see and enjoy this great company. We keep going to watch them because Skorik alone is not the Mariinsky and there are all the other dancers who do deserve our attention and support. I know for myself that what I find most frustrating is the sheer number of chances Skorik got in different roles when she was clearly unready for them. The infamous Skorik movie that was on YouTube that documented these mistakes in merciless detail, was in fact correct, and despite all her mishaps on stage, Skorik continued to get new roles and to be given chances in the roles she was so bad in. Of course, no-one expects a debutante in a role to be perfect, and there will be some technical inaccuracies, but never in Mariinsky history was there a dancer such as Skorik who displayed so many and STILL KEPT getting cast. Any other dancer would just not have been given another chance. Of course, many will say .... yes, company politics, and every company in the world has directors who have their favourites, but that does not make it right, and we do not all just have to sit and say nothing. Apart from anything else, ALL those performances were evenings when the audience was denied seeing Mariinsky tradition, and ALSO DENIED the chance to see other ballerinas, Vaganova graduates, who are STILL sitting in the corps waiting for their chances to dance these roles. So, for anyone wondering WHY the controversy about Skorik continues ... this is just part of the reason.

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Madame, I was talking exclusively about Skorik, I won't see HER because I won't downgrade my taste, I was talking exclusively about infamous Skorik not about true Vaganova/Mariinsky ballerinas, they are the reason why I go to the theater, Lopatkina is my Idol, Novikova is probably my second favorite ballerina, I love Pavlenko (the two times a year she gets cast) and Osmolkina, Batoeva,Marchuk etc but most of them are never cast or miscast and there's so much talent in the corps but if they spend their entire careers in there or soloist wasteland (Dumchenko, anyone? ) then it's impossible for me to be optimistic about the future of the company.

And this is the last time I post in here, I won't talk about Oxana Skorik ever again.

Ah ... OK! I understand, and I love many of the same dancers as you - but not all, LOL! :)

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Quote function didn't work properly--from Gnossie's post above--

"Cleo said
"Skorik bears no blame for what is happening at Mariinsky. She has worked hard through many challenges, and I think we have to give her credit for that. It's not her fault that she is an inexpressive dancer; she is doing the best she can with her instrument"
[...]. for years I have read how Alina Somova, a dancer I do NOT like has been trashed in this forum and never, not even once I read someone saying "she does the best she can so let's give her credit for that" why should one be kind to Skorik? ....

There is no reason for you to remember this, but actually in some of the long impassioned debates about Somova over the years people who didn't like videos of her dancing have jumped in to make comparable kinds of comments--for example, that at least they showed 'improvement' and 'hard work.' I never said that exactly, but I did, for example, once jump in to express reservations about focusing so much criticism on flaws of just one video of Somova's Aurora that had been taken quite a few years earlier. (However 'downgraded' my taste may be, I'm quite confident my memory of this is accurate :wink: .)

I tried to watch the documentary in which Skorik appears as a student, but gave up after two minutes--I found the tone very hard to take...

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Following the discussion of musicality at the Yulia Stepanova “Dancer” topic

http://balletalert.invisionzone.com/index.php?/topic/37737-yulia-stepanova/page-20

I’ve been reminded of a fairly recent video clip of Oksana Skorik in which I find her to be more beautiful than ever in a new and different way.

Here is SFCleo’s comment from the Yulia Stepanova discussion.

“As a musician, I've always been impressed with her [Yulia Stepanova] musicality, i.e. Her ability to use the music in her dancing. To my eye, there is a sophistication in her dancing - a lack of "beatiness" -- that may be mistaken by some as not being "on" the music. Among solo musicians, it's ok to play with the beat for expressive purposes so long as you get to the down beat in time (if you are not intending to make a ritard.)”

My sense when I first saw the Oksana Skorik video was how integral she was with the aura of the performance, how totally committed she was to feeling and expressing it, being a part of it. After having read SFCleo’s comment I noticed how important her response to the music was. Even before reading this, I noticed where Oksana Skorik several times seemed to momentarily stop in the middle of the music and just let it pass through her, speak for itself.

Other things that I’ve noticed, as I have with the Yulia Stepenova video, include her working ‘around’ the music. She, and possibly Yulia Stepanova, can use one part of her body to accent one musical highlight, while another part carries the overall flow. For instance, her back stiffens to catch and suspend a highlight, while her arms flow along with the continuity. There are many other beautiful plays on the rhythm that are part of this delightful, totally immersed and magnificently absorbing interpretation.

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There is a lot of overlapping today. It’s sometimes hard to know where to post or what category to use.

 

Oksana Skorik, whose Swan Lake performance will now be replaced in London by Yekaterina Osmolkina, probably because of a continued injury, remains in my mind perhaps the most ‘basically' beautiful ballerina in the world. Yekaterina Osmolkina, whom London will be very fortunate to see as her replacement, is very similar in beauty and continues to develop wonderful artistry.

 

Olga Smirnova from the Vaganova, now at the Bolshoi, will possibly be the most famous, perhaps one of the top five most famous ballerinas ever. Yet Oksana Skorik is perhaps the most beautiful. Partially the reason for this is the direction that Olga Smirnova has chosen, that of emphasising her expression, range and search for meaning.

 

Alena Kovaleva, from the Vaganova and now at the Bolshoi, is also one of the most fascinating. Some posters here were fortunate enough to see the beginnings of her career in NYC about a week ago. A couple prolific NYC reviewers, one being Robert Gotlieb, were knocked sideways by what they saw. She’s perhaps the heir apparent to Oksana Skorik as the Mariinsky’s most beautiful ballerina, generations seemingly lasting for several years at the moment.  Although she’s at the Bolshoi, she may yet be the next most beautiful ‘Mariinsky’ dancer.

Edited by Buddy
typo corrections
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I've often compared Oxana Skorik to Olga Smirnova, but now my viewing is shifting somewhat to Alyona Kovalyova, the remarkable 18 year old Vaganova graduate who's just been made a Soloist at the Bolshoi. I think that they have more in common. Both are so 'lyrically' lovely.

From a very recent video clip glance, Oxana Skorik shows a poetry of expression that adds considerably to her remarkable beauty of motion. It adds another dimension that I noticed elements of  a long time ago. If she continues like this, she will have of depth of loveliness that will make her all the more remarkable. I'lll also mention her hands again. Their use is as beautiful as I've seen.

Alyona Kovalyova is more of a fresh breeze and I hope that she keeps this quality. Her beauty of motion is possibly the equal of Oxana Skorik or even Ulyana Lopatkina. 

Oxana Skorik does show a noticeable artistic maturity. If she continues as she's presently doing, she'll be even more beautiful and make a wonderful comparison to the youthful loveliness of Alyona Kovalyova.  

  

 

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