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Joy Womack

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I don't know. I still think there's enough phenomenal talent out there that doesn't come with a history of negativity toward employers. If I were an AD, I wouldn't want to have to deal with her personality. She's not the big name draw that would make an AD be willing to put up with certain behaviors. 

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3 hours ago, vagansmom said:

I don't know. I still think there's enough phenomenal talent out there that doesn't come with a history of negativity toward employers. If I were an AD, I wouldn't want to have to deal with her personality. She's not the big name draw that would make an AD be willing to put up with certain behaviors. 

I agree vagansmom. Also, she doesn't have a background in handling the variety of ballets American companies do now. I know she does a contemporary work in competitions, but she's been focusing on the classics as done by the Russians. There is nothing wrong with that, if that's what she wants but It might be hard for an AD to picture her doing Balanchine, Forsythe, Wheeldon, Peck etc. I've never gotten any indication that she wants to explore or can be adaptable in that way.

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For her own future employment (in or out of ballet) I think she needs to take down the vlog.  And maybe take a year off dance.  

Edited by Jayne

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11 hours ago, Jayne said:

For her own future employment (in or out of ballet) I think she needs to take down the vlog.  And maybe take a year off dance.  

Ditto.  One  trait of hers that has bothered me since her student days, is a lack of gratitude or even recognition of the role others had in nurturing her talent. According to Joy, her teachers all recognized a remarkable talent and loved her, but were in no way responsible for her achievements.  But I don't recall seeing any quotes from professionals in the field, including her teachers, that confirmed these claims. This is the impression I formed from the coverage of her time at the Bolshoi Academy.  She projected a sense of entitlement beyond reason.  As the years have gone by and prima ballerina status has eluded her it actually seems she was delusional.  As a professional dancer it's obvious that she hasn't learned how to play well with others. 

Edited by lmspear

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15 hours ago, Jayne said:

For her own future employment (in or out of ballet) I think she needs to take down the vlog.  And maybe take a year off dance.  

No dancer can take a year off and expect to maintain his/her standing, unless it is someone at the top of his/her game, such as, say, David Hallberg or Uliana Lopatkina who each took considerable time off to attend to injuries.

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On 7/1/2017 at 4:47 AM, Fraildove said:

(by the way she is now in korea competing at the Korean International Ballet Competition... ?)? I have an inclination that encouraged by her silver in Varna, her promotion at the Kremlin, I think she truly felt she would be able to win gold and prove to everyone at the Bolshoi she was right and they were not.

 

She won the gold medal at the Korean International Ballet Competition. The Kremlin Ballet has been a participant in her entering various competitions.  Certainly, she received coaching from her Kremlin Ballet coach for the competitions.  Without doubt she has proved that she is a talented dancer with huge potential.  She posted photos at the Korean competition of herself with the director of the Kremlin Ballet.  Unfortunately, she does not have a professional mentor who can guide her in her social media and other publicity; however, I think grace demands credit where credit is due.  She has done exceptionally well in these competitions.  I watched the lineup at the Moscow International Competition.  Truthfully, it wasn't all that impressive.  I was impressed by her performances.  She could easily have won one of the top prizes/medals.  I thought she would.  She received a diploma, along with a Mariinsky soloist.  (That's pretty good company.)  She did refer to her diploma as giving her laureate status.  I like to give her the benefit of the doubt.  I think she is young and not careful with her words, rather than deviously misleading.  The same applies before she was promoted to a prima ballerina at the Kremlin Ballet.  She was listed as a soloist but called herself a principal.  I believe that is a matter of the Russian vs. English nomenclature.  I have no doubt she wold like to show the Bolshoi what she can do.  That would be quite understandable under the circumstances.  Joy's dancing has improved dramatically.  I believe she deserves acknowledgement for that.  In the end, no matter what her motivation has been for entering the various competitions, she has done very well in them.  That says something about her talent.  Top professionals from all over the world are judges.  She has also been keeping some impressive company (on tour with Ivan Vasiliev's group/Spain), danced with principal of Royal Ballet in Australia,  danced as Gamzati opposite Herman Cornejo as Solar at the Kremlin Ballet Festival, often partners with an amazing Kazan principal dancer, Oleg Ivenko, the lead in Ralph Fiennes movie about Nureyev, both Yulia Makhalina and her Bolshoi teacher highly praised her after a performance.  She has gone out of her way to obtain visibility.  Nothing wrong with that.  Unfortunately, she has no guidance in what is appropriate to say and what is not; and that circles round to jeopardize her chances.  It doesn't diminish her talent.

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23 hours ago, vipa said:

I agree vagansmom. Also, she doesn't have a background in handling the variety of ballets American companies do now. I know she does a contemporary work in competitions, but she's been focusing on the classics as done by the Russians. There is nothing wrong with that, if that's what she wants but It might be hard for an AD to picture her doing Balanchine, Forsythe, Wheeldon, Peck etc. I've never gotten any indication that she wants to explore or can be adaptable in that way.

 

A two-pronged response vis-a-visa Joy's recent revelations about leaving the Kremlin Ballet and classical versus modern ballet - a little long, I'm afraid.  I had a lot to say.

 

Classical vs Modern Ballets / Joy

 

Well-trained classical ballet dancers can perform any modern works.  The same does not necessarily stand for well-trained modern ballet dancers performing classical works .  Training at the top academies in Russia is impeccable -- the best.  In fact, training at top Russian academies probably includes more variety of dance than training in the West.  Joy is well trained, a graduate of the Bolshoi Academy.  I don't think, as a well-trained dancer, she would have any problems performing more "modern" ballets, versus the classics.  Whether she would want to focus on them is another question.  Ironically, the NYCB had to re-introduce the classics into its repertoire to prevent it from gong bankrupt.  Its dancers are not exquisitely trained classical dancers, in my view.  A small troupe, including Joy, recently put on a well-received modern performance.  Her extensions and strong turns are excellent for modern pieces.  Some of the choreography in the Russian ballets in which she performs is very modern -- and difficult.  Fast petit allegro has not been a strength so far.  She had difficulty with one of the fairies in Sleeping Beauty.  Having said that, turns/fouettes are a huge strength, as is her Kitri in Don Quixote.  It is also fair to say that she appears to stand out in any class, including with ABT.

 

Classically trained Russian dancers perform works by the choreographers you mention quite often and with proficiency.  Balanchine's alma maters were the Vaganova Academy and the Mariinsky Ballet.  His ideal dancer was tall, lithe, with great extensions, great technique and quickness.  His success in finding that ideal is a matter of debate.  I believe he would have been in his element, had he lived long enough to see the USSR collapse and been able to work with Russian dancers.  I am not a Balanchine fan.  I think most of his pieces are dated, old fashioned and boring; however, I acknowledge, his legacy of brilliance at combining music and dance into one.  Recently I watched Balanchine's Ballet Imperial on You Tube performed by the Mariinsky Ballet, with Viktoria Tereshkina in the main role; Olseya Novikova, in the second role.  The performance was exquisite.  I was surprised at my reaction, not being a Balanchine fan.  It got me thinking about the differences between Russian and American dancers performing his works.  I believe the Russians are so impeccably trained in technique that their quick movements have a flow and fluidity that is missing in the West.

 

I often read criticisms of Russians performing Balanchine, so I did a little research and came across Pierre Lacotte's thoughts about Uliana Lopatkina in Balanchine.  He described it as "totally amazing."  Jean-Guillaume, a former principal with the POB, described how, as he watched Lopatkina's extraordinary performance in Diamonds, he almost forgot that he was her partner.  Uliana Lopatkina is probably the most lyrical, classical dancer of our time.  It is no surprise that Evgenia Obraztsova is probably Pierre Lacotte's main muse.  A reason for that is her proficiency at very fast, difficult petit allegro, together with her classical repertoire.  (She's also amazing in modern pieces.)  Pierre Lacotte's choreography, in my view, is often much faster and/or much more difficult than Balanchine's choreography.

 

Future for Joy Womack?

 

Joy hinted that she was leaving the Kremlin Ballet.  My take is that she has not left but had words with them for not scheduling her extraneous performances around the Kremlin's scheduling and casting.  After that vlog, one does wonder whether the Kremlin Ballet's doors will still be open to her.  Of course she is not at the level of either Lopatkina or Obraztsova (or other top Russian dancers); however, the improvement in Joy's dancing has been spectacular.  I have seen principals not do as well as Joy in Swan Lake.  Joy's difficulties in furthering her career are twofold:

 

1)  Her unprofessional indiscretions in her vlogs, impulsive reactions, and apparent inability to negotiate win/win solutions.

 

2)  Having reached principal status, the difficulty in joining another company as a principal.  Judging by her personality, she is hardly likely to accept a position as a corps member or perhaps even as a soloist (many corps dancers in Russia are equal or better than she is).  Balanchine is not her style or training.  (She has talked about that often.)  ABT hires only the top world principals now (with a few exceptions).

 

I believe she will completely jeopardize her chances anywhere, if she does not rein in her public discussions.  Instagram is pretty popular with professional dancers, but most companies would never allow their dancers to vlog as Joy does.  It is very sad that she never managed to find a professional mentor.  She has an excellent dance coach who recently won a best-coach award.  Joy's recent incredible success in placing in top competitions is in no small measure due to her coach and her wise advice.  There is no doubt that Joy has become a dancer who is noticed by top professionals.  If she wants to continue on that path, I believe she will need to close down her vlogs and rethink her commitments and loyalties.

 

The irony is that her vlog followers are mostly teenagers, young girls and related fans without ballet training.  They may bolster her confidence with almost unanimous overflowing praise (she blocks negative feedback), but in the end they will do absolutely nothing for her career or her chances.  They follow her because of her story in Russia.  If she ends up in some obscure company or studio, they will highly likely lose interest.

 

Joy has made some huge mistakes, but her tenacity to overcome them has been admirable.  Albeit, at a second-tier Russian company (larger than many top-tier companies in the West), she has done exceptionally well, despite tensions with other dancers.  She is only 23 years old.  What a waste to throw it away to join the sidelines of ballet.

 

I wish her the best; hope she ends her vlogs (keeps her Instagram); spends more time as a principal at the Kremlin; and then moves on as a sought-after principal (with no vlogs).  Who knows, maybe her life goal is to be less visible, but somehow I can't imagine that.

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39 minutes ago, Nzoia said:

I often read criticisms of Russians performing Balanchine, so I did a little research and came across Pierre Lacotte's thoughts about Uliana Lopatkina in Balanchine.  He described it as "totally amazing."  Jean-Guillaume, a former principal with the POB, described how, as he watched Lopatkina's extraordinary performance in Diamonds, he almost forgot that he was her partner.  Uliana Lopatkina is probably the most lyrical, classical dancer of our time.  It is no surprise that Evgenia Obraztsova is probably Pierre Lacotte's main muse.  A reason for that is her proficiency at very fast, difficult petit allegro, together with her classical repertoire.  (She's also amazing in modern pieces.)

I think that Pierre Lacotte's or Jean-Guillaume's opinion on Balanchine style is like Kevin McKenzie's opinion on Royal Danish Ballet style because ABT performs "La Sylphide" and "Etudes."

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19 minutes ago, Helene said:

I think that Pierre Lacotte's or Jean-Guillaume's opinion on Balanchine style is like Kevin McKenzie's opinion on Royal Danish Ballet style because ABT performs "La Sylphide" and "Etudes."

 

We'll have to disagree on that one.  I could create a similar response negating the opinions of all the commentators on You Tube and ballet sites who negate Russian dancers' ability to perform Balanchine exquisitely.  I would certainly put a whole lot more weight on what Pierre Lacotte has to say.  Also, the NYCB and its dancers have changed considerably since Balanchine's time at the company.

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Nzola my quick answer as a huge Balanchine/NYCB fan, is that I would quibble with much of your assessment, but the bottom line is that it is a matter of individual taste.

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1 hour ago, Nzoia said:

Ironically, the NYCB had to re-introduce the classics into its repertoire to prevent it from gong bankrupt.  

 

Not to get off-topic but I'd be curious to learn more about this.  Or at least get some clarification on what classical ballets had to be re-introduced. 

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NYCB was saved by adding classics? I agree that they are box office gold but NYCB's golden goose is Mr B's 1954 Nutcracker.

 

NYCB was saved by it's amazing stable of exciting dancers: Tiler Peck, Sara Mearns, etc.  

 

I would go further on the Lacotte comparison: it's like asking Pina Bausch to judge the proficiency of Bolshoi dancing Bournonville, rather than asking a Danish stager.  

 

If Edward Villella or Allegra Kent says a Russian company is dancing Balanchine well, that I would believe.  

 

Back to Joy Womack -- she does have injuries, and time off will help heal them.  I suspect she is on her parents' ACA health insurance as a 23 year old.  So treatment getting covered is possible.  But I really think a year off to get perspective would be healthy.  

 

I do like the idea of a social media advisor.  It worked well for Misty Copeland.  Anyway, Atlanta Ballet is hiring!  Maybe she would do well under Gennadi's tenure.  They have similar Moscow training. 

Edited by Jayne

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In addition to Atlanta Ballet, few other big companies were hiring during this past season--ENB, Berlin State Ballet, Bavarian State Ballet. I wonder if she auditioned in any of these places. 

Edited by Dreamer

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5 hours ago, Nzoia said:

We'll have to disagree on that one.  I could create a similar response negating the opinions of all the commentators on You Tube and ballet sites who negate Russian dancers' ability to perform Balanchine exquisitely.  I would certainly put a whole lot more weight on what Pierre Lacotte has to say.  Also, the NYCB and its dancers have changed considerably since Balanchine's time at the company.

 

At the risk of going off topic, just the other day Robert Gottlieb, who is no stranger to Balanchine and New York City Ballet, wrote that the Bolshoi's "Rubies" were the worst he'd seen in half a century (i.e., ever).

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And Gottlieb is no stranger to Miami City Ballet, founded by "Rubies'" originator, Edward Villella.

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But to be fair... The Bolshoi hasn't danced Agon in years, but when John Clifford staged the ballet for the company in 2004, he identified a number of its dancers as "thoroughly Balanchinean": Nina Kaptsova, Anastasia Yatsenko, Ekaterina Shipulina, Yan Godovsky, Gennadi Yanin and Ruslan Skvortsov.

http://2004.novayagazeta.ru/nomer/2004/18n/n18n-s25.shtml

 

Of course stylistically sensitive and highly adaptable dancers will be found in every corner of the globe, but they are rare, and no school produces universal dancers with any sort of regularity. And although I've heard it often enough from some old-school ballet teachers, it certainly isn't true that a ballet dancer can perform any modern work. (Even when this assertion is qualified with a statement such as "they may have trouble with the style..." Well now.) No, not by a long shot.

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6 hours ago, Jayne said:

 

 

Back to Joy Womack -- she does have injuries, and time off will help heal them.  I suspect she is on her parents' ACA health insurance as a 23 year old.  So treatment getting covered is possible.  But I really think a year off to get perspective would be healthy.  

 

I do like the idea of a social media advisor.  It worked well for Misty Copeland.  Anyway, Atlanta Ballet is hiring!  Maybe she would do well under Gennadi's tenure.  They have similar Moscow training. 

 

Over the winter, she showed a video at a clinic, which I believe is run by her mother where she underwent some bizarre treatments, including one involving stem cells.  "Body Hacking" is what she called it. I do hope she uses this down time to allow her body to heal rather than trying experimental quick fixes

 

 

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9 hours ago, Jayne said:

NYCB was saved by adding classics? I agree that they are box office gold but NYCB's golden goose is Mr B's 1954 Nutcracker.

 

NYCB was saved by it's amazing stable of exciting dancers: Tiler Peck, Sara Mearns, etc.  

 

I would go further on the Lacotte comparison: it's like asking Pina Bausch to judge the proficiency of Bolshoi dancing Bournonville, rather than asking a Danish stager.  

 

If Edward Villella or Allegra Kent says a Russian company is dancing Balanchine well, that I would believe.  

 

Back to Joy Womack -- she does have injuries, and time off will help heal them.  I suspect she is on her parents' ACA health insurance as a 23 year old.  So treatment getting covered is possible.  But I really think a year off to get perspective would be healthy.  

 

I do like the idea of a social media advisor.  It worked well for Misty Copeland.  Anyway, Atlanta Ballet is hiring!  Maybe she would do well under Gennadi's tenure.  They have similar Moscow training. 

 

That is true.  The NYCB was teetering on bankrupty so added the classics.  Perhaps I should have said it started focusing more on the classics.

 

Of course, all dancers at any top company are good dancers.  Of course, the dancers at NYCB are good dancers.  I would never denigrate their talent.  I respect the difficulties of ballet and the profession too much for that; however, whether the NYCB dancers of today fit Balanchine's vision is another question.  

 

I consider Pierre Lacotte one of the top choreographers today by far -- better than some who are getting all kinds of publicity today.  If such a choreographer is not sufficiently experienced to comment on how well a dancer is dancing Balanchine, then the ballet world is in trouble.  As I responded to Helene who made a similar comment, I could turn that notion around  and question the qualifications of anyone on these posts who question the ability of Russians to dance Balanchine.

 

Ballet is so competitive and so stretched for money that in the main dancers simply cannot take a year off, let alone what that would do to their abilities.  You know in ballet, one year off is a thousand years back.  David Hallberg recently took two years off, I think it was, to recover from an injury; however, he's in a different category than Joy Womack.  I think that privilege is reserved for the cream of the crop.  Ballet companies wouldn't be so patient with lesser dancers.

 

I agree.  I think social media can do wonders for a dancer, with the right approach -- almost a must in this day and age, actually.  Ironically, we all spend time discussing and debating the merits of Joy Womack because of her social media.  It all depends on which social media and how it is used.  Misty Copeland has benefited immensely (fairly or otherwise) from her PR blitz.  Most dancers keep it simple with Instagram.  Vlogging, as Joy has done over the years, is extremely time consuming and will ultimately clash with the time needed to be a top dancer, let alone the restrictions against videoing company classes and activities.  As we all know, she has also been extremely unwise in some of her comments.  In my view, she made a huge, life-changing blunder by going to the press instead of sorting things out with the Bolshoi.  She has owned up to burning her bridges there and says she is at peace with it now, but it must at some level grate on her every day.  I admire her courage and tenacity to have risen from those ashes.  I also think that her dancing has improved beyond an Atlanta Ballet future.  Personally, I have been amazed at the improvement.  There is no doubt that she is extremely talented.  Top tier at the Bolshoi or Mariinsky, no, but certainly good enough to be on the top tier of top companies.  Unfortunately her vlogs have probably already prohibited that.  Ironically, if she had stayed at the Bolshoi, she would not be a principal and would not have been able to dance the principal roles she has danced with the Kremlin Ballet -- a catch 22 situation.  

 

Joy's mother is a doctor, who specializes in many healing treatments, so she doesn't need insurance coverage.  Unfortunately, in the reality of the ballet world, if a dancer takes time out, the risk is that it will be permanent.

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8 hours ago, volcanohunter said:

 

At the risk of going off topic, just the other day Robert Gottlieb, who is no stranger to Balanchine and New York City Ballet, wrote that the Bolshoi's "Rubies" were the worst he'd seen in half a century (i.e., ever).

Ok.  Hear you.  I haven't seen the Bolshoi's "Rubies," so can't comment.  

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12 hours ago, Dreamer said:

 

Not to get off-topic but I'd be curious to learn more about this.  Or at least get some clarification on what classical ballets had to be re-introduced. 

Found out about this when researching the financial trials and tribulations of the NYCB.  The internet is such an amazing tool.  We are so lucky.

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I think the difference between Misty Copeland and Joy Womack is that Copeland appears to have more social communication skills. She knew enough to hire a good PR person and to follow the advice.  As dancers go, however, I'd much rather have to watch Womack in a performance than Copeland. Neither have the musicality I need to see in order to enjoy a performance and both are too earth-bound for me. But Misty scales down the technique whereas Womack doesn't.

 

That poses an interesting question: Ignoring everything but their dancing, who do you think makes a better ABT principal?

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If Womack ever becomes a Principal at ABT, we can have a direct comparison.

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2 hours ago, Nzoia said:

Found out about this when researching the financial trials and tribulations of the NYCB.  The internet is such an amazing tool.  We are so lucky.

Aside from Balanchine's Nutcracker, a full length that was and continues to be a money maker at NYCB is Balanchine's Midsummer Night's Dream. Fact is that "story ballets" typically sell well in most companies and to some degree support other works.  

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Balanchine had planned to do Sleeping Beauty when he felt he had the right cast.  He reportedly had found it -- Kistler as Aurora -- but he was too ill by then.

 

Martins' full length story ballets:

Sleeping Beauty -- 1991 (announced in 1987)

Swan Lake -- 1996

Romeo + Juliet -- 2007

 

What am I missing? 

 

Balanchine's full length story ballet:

Nutcracker -- 1954

A Midsummer Night's Dream -- 1962  They fit it onto the stage at City Center.

Coppelia -- 1974 First two acts staged with Danilova.

 

Harlequinade (1965) is a two-acter.

 

I know that financial issues were cited for two major corps layoffs during Martins' tenure, and during the last, he took a pay cut.  This was in 2009 when NYCB had amassed a $7m operating deficit after the US experienced one of the biggest financial catastrophe's in US history, and if "Swan Lake" was the antidote for that, there would be a lot more ballet fans.  

 

However, when I googled New York City Ballet bankruptcy, no results came up. 

 

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25 minutes ago, Helene said:

Balanchine had planned to do Sleeping Beauty when he felt he had the right cast.  He reportedly had found it -- Kistler as Aurora -- but he was too ill by then.

 

Martins' full length story ballets:

Sleeping Beauty -- 1991 (announced in 1987)

Swan Lake -- 1996

Romeo + Juliet -- 2007

 

What am I missing? 

 

Balanchine's full length story ballet:

Nutcracker -- 1954

A Midsummer Night's Dream -- 1962  They fit it onto the stage at City Center.

Coppelia -- 1974 First two acts staged with Danilova.

 

Harlequinade (1965) is a two-acter.

 

I know that financial issues were cited for two major corps layoffs during Martins' tenure, and during the last, he took a pay cut.  This was in 2009 when NYCB had amassed a $7m operating deficit after the US experienced one of the biggest financial catastrophe's in US history, and if "Swan Lake" was the antidote for that, there would be a lot more ballet fans.  

 

However, when I googled New York City Ballet bankruptcy, no results came up. 

 

 

It was Martins who had to start focusing on the classical ballets to save the company.

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