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Olga Esina


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I first saw Olga Esina several years ago at a benefit gala. I thought that she was absolutely Lovely.

Last year she was invited to perform at the Mariinsky Festival Gala. She is a graduate of the Vaganova School (Mariinsky) and danced with the company for two years before leaving. Once again I really enjoyed her Airy Loveliness. I was becoming a true fan.

This year she was invited to perform "Swan Lake" at the Festival, possibly the most important role. I've written here that although Svetlana Zakharova as Giselle gave possibly the best performance of Anything that I've ever seen, Olga Esina's was perhaps the Festival's Most Beautiful.

There were two elements that stood out. One consisted of the Quiet, Gently Beautiful Passages of her White Swan, Odette. Contained within these was a wealth of intricate detail, elegant and brilliant, yet never imposing itself on the total sense of calm and undisturbed flow. The other element was her exciting and technically brilliant Expressiveness of Motion and Transitioning. (I do want to say that I've seen an internet video clip and, at least for me right now, it doesn't capture this extremely fine performance as well as it could).

Since she was named Guest Principal at the Mariinsky I've watched a video clip (over and over) of the dance for three from Le Corsaire and I've recently seen her perform "Swan Lake" twice in Naples, Italy. Something new has caught my attention….

* Elegance *

It's probably this, that sets her apart and makes her so special.

Also appearing were Ulyana Lopatkina and Oxana Skorik. Ulyana Lopatkina has to be one of the all-time greats. Catching my attention in the younger two was a subtle contrast. Oxana Skorik, for me, has a 'Purity' of Fineness, of Flow. Olga Esina, within her Beautifully Uniform adagio (slow and gentle) passages, has a more noticeable 'punctuation' of her phrasing, extremely elegant in its beauty.

In these two "Swan Lake"s, besides being a dream of elegance and character, Olga Esina was sensitive, warm and youthful. She was embraceably lovely. She danced twice in three days and was equally Vibrant and 'Delightful' both times.

I hope that she's made a permanent Mariinsky Principal as soon as possible. She's certainly worthy of it.

Her Beauty Is A Step Beyond.
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Mariinsky Ballet is loaded with ballerina talent that there is no logic in needing any guest principal or hiring any outside ballerina to be a principal, unless she is considered one of the most famous and greatest ballerinas in the world. Esina left Mariinsky in 2006 to go to Vienna which never has had a famous ballerina in it's history. Esina was not the top ranked Vaganova student in 2004, that honor went to Natalia Bolshakova, with Valeria Martynyuk and Maria Yakovleva, all in the running with Esina for second best student of the 2004 graduating class.

I am not certain about this being true, but I think that when Esina departed for Vienna, she was still ranked in corps de ballet, but it is possible that she was a coryphee. Vienna Ballet does not approach the prestige of London's Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, National Ballet of Cuba, National Ballet of Canada and a handful of German ballet companies, more highly regarded than Vienna. In Vienna, Esina never danced Nikiya, only Gamzatti, nor did she dance Kitri, only Queen of Dryads, nor Giselle, only Myrtha. For the Vienna Ballet which has a poor reputation around the world when compared to Mariinsky Ballet, how can any ballerina who was not considered good enough to dance Giselle, not good enough to dance Nikiya and not good enough to dance Kitri, even be considered for a principal at Mariinsky Ballet. For many years, the general opinion has been that to be a Mariinsky principal, a ballerina needs to dance Odette/Odile and Nikiya. Esina was not considered good enough to dance Nikiya in Vienna with much weaker ballerinas than exist at Mariinsky.

For the 2011/2012 Bolshoi season, Evgenia Obraztsova joined Bolshoi Ballet because she was not given principal status and one of her main obstacles was the fact that she was not considered Odette/Odile and Nikiya worthy for Mariinsky Ballet, but had recently danced Odette/Odile at Stanislavsky Ballet, a better ballet company than Esina's Vienna Ballet.. At the time, Genia left for Bolshoi, she had graduated from Vaganova, slightly over 9 years earlier. Esina now is a guest principal, having graduated from Vaganova, slightly over 9 years ago, same as Genia when she was refused principal and left for Bolshoi. When Genia left for Bolshoi, she only had no Nikiya, same as Esina. However, unlike Esina at a much weaker Vienna Ballet, Genia had danced both Giselle and Kitri. There is no logic in thinking that Genia with only 2 important roles missing at Mariinsky and one overall, since she danced Odette/Odile at Stanislavsky, preventing her from principal status, would not be considered a principal, while Esina, from a very weak ballet company in comparison to Mariinsky Ballet, would be considered principal worthy with 3 major missing pieces, Nikiya, Giselle and Kitri.

I will bring up one final ballerina and this comparison makes the Esina principal status more insane. In 2002, the Vaganova graduating class had two equally highly regarded ballerinas, sharing same prize at 2002 Vaganova Prix, Olesya Novikova and Evgenia Obraztsova. Novikova has danced every important classical role in the repertoire, including Nikiya, which she has danced at a better company than Vienna, at Mikhailovsky Ballet. However, Novikova has not danced Nikiya at Mariinsky. Novikova started at Mariinsky, two years earlier than Esina started at Mariinsky and she has no missing roles in her repertoire, but she is not a principal. There is no logic in Novikova, being two years older and much more talented than Esina and more fame than Esina, who has been primarily unknown at not famous Vienna, not being a principal, while Esina is a principal.

I will conclude that Esina does not deserve to be a principal. If she wanted to return, she is worthy of a second soloist. She is worse than every first soloist, except Gumerova. She is worse than many second soloists, worse than many coryphee and worse than some corps de ballet girls. Olesya Novikova has been greatly cheated by Esina being given guest principal status when Novikova is clearly a vastly superior ballerina and has stuck at Mariinsky for 11 years, despite her husband being chased away when Fateyev greatly favored his pupil Shklyarov over Sarafanov. I hope that Esina is never given a permanent principal ranking and I would advise her to go back to Vienna and let the great Mariinsky ballerinas dance better than she ever will.

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I forgot to mention that without the annual New Year's Eve concerts from Vienna which have a few minutes of the ballet company performing, while the orchestra dominates the program, few ballet fans would even think that Vienna has a ballet company. As it is, most people who have seen the ballet company perform on New year's Eve, would think that ballet company is similar to what existed at the Metropolitan Opera House, where there was no ballet company performing full length ballets, but a group of dancers used in operas and concerts to add dancing to the program. This is where Mariinsky gets it's guest principal from, when it has so many talented girls in the lower ranks.?

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Hopefully you'll be able to judge for yourself when the Mariinsky comes to DC this January, Cristian. I think that you like solidity and competence and this she has. Besides being 'A Beautiful Dream'....

She's A Darn Good Dancer ! flowers.gif

(in my unpoetic but sincere opinion)

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Hopefully you'll be able to judge for yourself when the Mariinsky comes to DC this January, Cristian. I think that you like solidity and competence and this she has. Besides being 'A Beautiful Dream'....

She's A Darn Good Dancer ! flowers.gif

(in my unpoetic but sincere opinion)

Solidity and competence are not enough to be a Mariinsky principal - otherwise every dancer in the company could quality. Perfection of technique, expression, dramatic ability, star quality - all of these should be present. I will see Esina's Juliet and Odette/Odile this month for myself, so will be able to judge, but I have to say I agree with tamicute. She was not the best dancer in the graduating class, she went to an inferior company where she did not dance many of the classical roles that are the unofficlal requirement for Mariinsky dancers before becoming principal and - above all - she was not needed. There are so many ballerinas at Mariinsky just waiting for their chances and Esina's appointment just means they have to wait even longer.

I think that her appointment as a guest principal has more to do with the popularity and perceived glamour of televised Viennese trifles such as this:


It might be very pretty and lovely to watch with a box of chocolates, but it is certainly not Great Classical Ballet, or the repertoire of a Mariinsky Principal.

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It wouldn't matter if Osina danced in front of a badly painted backdrop with a corps from the Dolly Dinkle School of Ballet: either her Odette/Odile is stellar, or it isn't. In fact, in Vienna, she dances the Nureyev (more or less after Petipa) version, the same one the Paris Opera Ballet dances. Where she graduated in her class is meaningless to what she presents onstage. That she dances with the Vienna State Opera ballet, since 2010 directed by Manuel Legris, one of the greatest ballet stars of the last thirty years -- a man singled out by Nureyev in his teens -- which was the year Osina became Principal with that company, is hardly something for which she must apologize. (First Soloist in their lingo.)

I realize there is a long-standing Mariinsky DaVinci code that dictated who could be promoted when and on what basis, but it's so easily manipulated by casting prematurely/inappropriately and checking off the role boxes. The idea that this must remain unchanging, and that an inequity like Obraztsova not being made a Principal should be replicated indefinitely, is curious to me.

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Thank you Helene. The Mariinsky should have the ability to hire in a guest principal of the acting AD's choosing - no matter what perceived transgressions happened in the past to a soloist who left for greener pastures in Moscow. Mr Balanchine had a quote about dancers as roses - some bloom early, some bloom late, some bloom for years, others for a short time. In this case, perhaps Ms Esina did not bloom during her final year at school to surpass all the other students, but she has bloomed throughout her career in Vienna. Polina Semianova was not a star in the Moscow school either, but I think if she were given a Guest Contract at the Bolshoi tomorrow, people would accept it.

Keep in mind that Vienna dances a variety of contemporary works under Legris, and this variation in style may be what was interesting to the acting AD's eye. I reserve judgment until more reviews come in from BA'ers or professional critics who actually see Ms Esina dancing in person.

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What also interests me very much and I love very much is that after being away from the Mariinsky for about seven years, she still looks like a beautiful and unchanged Mariinsky Principal Dancer.
Added thought:
I've seen qualities in her that put her Above and Beyond. It's fairly unusual, I would think, to invite someone back who has left the Mariinsky and offer the artist almost instant recognition, let alone immediate Principal status. Has it ever happened before?
To some extent I would say that she is still feeling her way back into the company and there is the possibility of her exhibiting a remarkable level of Absolute Beauty in the near future. Some of what I saw her do at this year's Mariinsky Festival, where artists strive to show their very best, supports this. Hopefully folks who are lucky enough to be at the DC "Swan Lake"s will get a chance to see this happening.
Added added thought:
One thing that was noteworthy at the recent Naples performances is that she has a range, a large vocabulary of fine qualities. I've mentioned some of them in my initial post. They don't necessarily 'hit you in the face,' but they're there and they're consistently fine. I think that she is an artist who can always be counted on for, at least, a uniformly fine, lovable and inspiring performance and hopefully even more.
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What also interests me very much and I love very much is that after being away from the Mariinsky for about seven years, she still looks like a beautiful and unchanged Mariinsky Principal Dancer.

When Esina left in 2006, she was probably in the corps de ballet or at most,a coryphee, but definitely not high enough to be a low level 2nd soloist, and definitely nowhere near principal level..

I saw Esina's same Mariinsky festival Swan Lake that Buddy saw and I stick to my previous post, that there are some Mariinsky corps de ballet girls who are better ballerinas than Esina. As far as a Vaganova trained dancer leaving Russia and seemingly lost nothing in their Vaganova/Mariinsky style, that is false because even Russian friends who lived in Russia and saw Baryshnikov and Makarova in Russia, recognized that very quickly, they lost some of their unique Vaganova style that they had in Russian. In men, who need brilliant turns and jumps, losses in Vaganova style are not as easily detectable, but with Makarova, certain aspects of her dancing style got worse as she was away from her previous training and coaches. Makarova was a great ballerina, but certain parts of her dancing were not what they once were. However, today, there are many Russian coaches around the world, but not in Vienna and actually the current Vienna coaches include 2 Russian men, but no women, so it is impossible that Esina would be dancing with the same Vaganova style as graduates from her time period. Being away for 7 years with no female Vaganova coaches makes it impossible for Esina to resemble other Mariinsky Vaganova graduates from those years, who stayed at Mariinsky and still dance at Mariinsky and definitely not at a Mariinsky principal level.
I saw the 2004 Vaganova graduation performances and Esina danced a solo in Paquita plus Leda and the Swan by Roland Petit. Bolshakova, Martynyuk, Yakovleva and several other girls, including 7th year 2005 grad, Darya Vasnetsova, all danced full classical pas de deux, and Bolshakova did Nikiya in full Kingdom of Shades, so Esina in terms of what she danced, was not near the top 5 from a classical standpoint of that 2004 year graduation performances. She danced the same Leda and Swan at the recent Mariinsky Theatre 2 opening with the same partner as in 2004, Alexnader Sergeyev. Esina was the only foreign ballerina invited to that Mariinsky 2 opening gala and this unique distinction itself seems very strange plus why is Esina a guest principal. With all the much more famous ballerinas in the world than Esina, she was the only ballerina invited to perform Mariinsky 2 opening night gala. Buddy mentions seeing Esina in a gala, but I have looked through youtube and google search for Esina in galas and I cannot find anything until last October's Swan Lake at the Bolshoi and then she was in 2 performances of the Mariinsky Festival, then Mariinsky 2 gala opening and then Corsaire to close out the Mariinsky Ballet season. To me, this seems very suspicious that suddenly in the past 12 months, both Bolshoi and Mariinsky recognize something special in her, which I do not think exists at all. Everything happened in the past 12 months.
My first ballet performance of any kind was when a friend invited me to see the Kirov Swan Lake in 1960. I was 20 years old and immediately became addicted to the Vaganova/Kirov style. I did not see any great Vaganova style in Esina as a Vaganova student and certainly feel that her Vaganova style has suffered greatly in the 7 years away from Russia with the wrong type of training to preserve that Vaganova style.
She does not deserve to even be a first soloist so guest principal is crazy.
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The Audiences Seem To Love Her ! flowers.gif

Even though we don't agree, tamicute, you seem to have a great interest in the art and I hope it brings you as much pleasure as it brings me.

Added comment:

In Naples, for instance, Olga Esina received a very enthusiastic response, probably the most enthusiastic of the series for her last performance, only equaled possibly by that for Oxana Skorik the night before.

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There's an internet video series of Olga Esina's "Swan Lake" from this year's Mariinsky Festival. From the "Act I" (White Swan segment) I do get glimpses of one thing that I recall so vividly, and value so highly, from the actual performance.

It's when she becomes, what I call, 'a dancer within a dancer.' In her adagios (slow and graceful) she seems to stop time with one motion and then continues to move through it, but the feeling of stillness remains. There is also a Purity to this sense of suspension that's very special.
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