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PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 11:05 am 
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Buddy wrote:
Natalia, with all due respect, I simply don't agree with you. I.....


And there's nothing wrong with that, Buddy. I really wish that I could see 'sculpture' in Somova. With such an abundance of Beautiful Happiness on the stage last night, I find it hard to equate Somova's antics and -- excuse my bluntness -- cheap looks (e.g., acrylic nails, peroxide hair, showing-off of private parts during Bayadere adagio, etc.) with anything beautiful. The two words that come to mind when I see Somova's displays: Trailer Trash.

p.s. Some very celebrated Kirov stars of the past who sat close to me refused to applaud Somova. My husband & I noticed that right away.


Last edited by NataliaN on Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2008 2:11 pm 
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Hi Natalia!

I WISH I was there in New York; unfortunately work prevails.

Re Somova :arrow: EGADS :!:

Well, I stand in agreement with you having sampled enough of her IRL, as you so aptly put it, "antics" in other repertory. The pivotal question is
what will the New York critics' verdict be? She is indeed incapable of a seemless phrase and devoid of technique. I recall that you noted in BT that she had improved somewhat at Kennedy Center during the January engagement. According to your assessment of last night it seems that
she's gone south again. At minimum she's inconsistent, and that characteristic isn't what a Maryinsky Second Soloist, on the on-ramp to Principal Dancer, should be known for, and certainly not in her fifth year as a paid professional.

The role of Nikiya requires a technically assured, dance actress who is also a mistress of nuance and stylization. Moreover, there's a certain level of taste required given the subject matter, the story and the character. Petipa's heroines in general, and this role in particular were not designed to be sculptural poses. That isn't dancing; that's posing.

Somova struggles to achieve the extreme position at the expense of the choreography's intent & pattern. That's her 'dancing' in a nutshell. This is the deficiency on the technical side; whereas on the artistic side she be-labors the dramatic points, or there's little understanding of the character's motivations from moment to moment. The egregious affectations which you mentioned, (the long nails, vulgarity, footlight flirting, etc.), in addition to all of the above, make her a distraction vis a vis the rest of the ensemble. I wonder why the management and her teacher/coach can't see this, and why they insist on, and persist in casting her on opening nights. It's a mystery.

Perhaps she'll do better in the Balanchine program, but I have huge doubts about that. The Maryinsky is in Balanchine's city, on City Ballet's first official stage: There should be no excuses. Hopefully, she will do well in "Etudes;" she's managed to pull off personal bests in this ballet in the past. The Forsythe programs would have been genius casting for her. Maybe she will be cast in one of the Forsythes before the season's over.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:03 am 
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ARTS / DANCE | April 3, 2008
Dance Review: Ballet's Classical History, the Kirov Edition
By ALASTAIR MACAULAY
The three-week Kirov Ballet season that opened at City Center on Tuesday night looks on paper like a major course in the history of ballet classicism.


http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/03/arts/ ... 0&emc=eta1


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:26 am 
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Thanks for the link, Catherine. The author has never been the greatest friend of the Kirov style but I can't help but applaud the following bits:

Alina Somova’s account of the ballerina role typifies the company’s most glacially showy and least appealing features.

In “The Importance of Being Earnest” Lady Bracknell says, “The chin is worn particularly high this season......Somova has acquired the habit. She also skews her pelvis sideways to achieve her high extensions, even though the angle of her tutu in this role shows just how much this distorts her line."


Cygne, we won't see Somova in the Forsythes because Makhar Vaziev and his wife, Chenchikova (who happens to be Somova's coach), consider their charge to be the ultimate classicist. Apparently they don't want to ruin her "classical purity" with the modern repertoire. :roll:


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:31 am 
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NN - Yes, thank God for the little things, right?

Sadly, it would be nice to have a NY reviewer who reflected a different point of view (ie more experience seeing the Kirov and more familiarity with their traditions) but we have but one...

So many non-intense-balletomanes believe the critics' voice is word of law and this can do undue damage to certain companies. Luckily not to the Kirov but I think of smaller troupes.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:35 am 
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The fact that People’s Artists of Russia, Honored Artists of Russia, former Kirov ballerinas and danseur nobles, those who grew up inside the Vaganova Academy, were trained and excelled in those traditions, performed on the Kirov stage and are now esteemed pedagogs within the Mariinsky Theatre – the fact that these people as well as many current company members are aghast at the circus antics of Somova onstage, to me, is a sign that all balletomanes –from those knowledgeable in the art who have spent hours immersed in it by training in the studio or teaching, to the newbies who haven’t much exposure and cannot differentiate levels of technique in various dancers -- should heed. That individuals with this much honor and esteem are in agreement over Somova speaks volumes to me. The question is why aren’t others paying attention to it.

Cygne you said, “Perhaps she will do better.” But what, exactly would “better” mean?

To me, it would mean two things:

1) Gaining an understanding of characterization, the appropriate expressions for certain characters at certain moments and how to portray characters’ feelings onstage. This is what sets a great ballerina apart from a mediocre one. It is also what sets a mature artist apart from an amateur. You will never see Lopatkina go onstage and throw out glances this way and that, a smile here, a frown there, with no connection between them, no meaning behind them. Hours of study are spent in the studio going over the nuances of every ballet. *why* does she take the Prince’s hand at this point? What is the character feeling at this point? How can the ballerina express that externally to the audience, whether or not she feels it inside?

The worst violation of this to date, that I have seen, came last year during the Festival when Somova danced Queen of the Dryads. IN addition to running down Kitri in the Dream sequence (literally, she tour-jeted into her in an attempt to get her own leg “higher”), Somova displayed a completely inappropriate burlesque “come hither” look. Yes, as Queen of the Dryads. My companion at the time saw it and was aghast. It was Carmen/Manon in Dryad clothing, I kid you not.

2) Lowering the legs and taming the extensions to return to the lines some semblance of classical technique. Acrobats put their legs behind their ears. Ballerinas – (*newsflash*) – do not.

To this second point, I wanted to add another thought. Ballet technique is built on the energy of circles. The energy that stems from the center of the torso, and runs out through one arm, one hand’s fingertips, into the fingertips of the other hand and back into one’s center. The energy that goes down into the floor so that you can push up off of it and jump. The visual circles are often the opposite of the energy-circles that go on behind the movement, but they are always there. The energy flows. It is not linear, and it is never (should never be) static. A great example of this is the promenade in attitude in “Sleeping Beauty”. The energy runs from the ballerina’s hip-knee-foot of the leg in the air, out of the leg, and continues around her. The energy from her torso goes out through her arm into her partner’s arm, forming that crucial S shape that has to be maintained for the promenade to work properly. Another circle could be drawn around the entire pose – the foot en pointe on the floor, up to the tip of the shoe of the working leg in the air, up to the dancer’s head (and or arm overhead) and back down to the working leg. The list goes on. The number of circles are often seemingly endless. And they are there for a reason.

When the ballerina takes that pose and lifts her leg so that her back is folded in half, and the leg is by her headpiece – that distorts both the line and the intention – in my book the REASON – for the pose itself. What are we displaying here? The circles are gone. We have lines in their places. The point of the promenade is to display those circles – and the promenade itself is a circle. If you turn a pole around, you don’t see anything but a pole. Is that art? The dancer could simply keep both legs down on the ground and turn around if we were to see a pole turning. But that’s not what Petipa choreographed.

This is just one example.

Somova has had five years to “do better”. I think if she were headed in that direction we would already have seen signs of it. But accomplishing just one of the two points above won’t be enough. She could easily lower her legs – it doesn’t take any intelligence to do that, it only takes some control and strength and a conscious thought process. But that would leave the dramatic aspect of her dancing to work on. Likewise, were she to wake up tomorrow with a largely improved dramatism, the leg issue would remain.

One final point. People mention her chin often. What she does with her chin is unlike what any other female dancer worldwide does. I took great offense to one critic comparing her with Lopatkina. Lopatkina’s chin, if raised, is done in a regal manner in tandem with the character. But her entire head, unlike Somova’s, is never tossed back. This is key.

There is a photo of Somova in Diamonds, arms 3rd high Vaganova, in soussous 5th en pointe. Her head is thrown so far back in the photo, you can see up her nostrils. Her arms are behind her when they should be slightly in front of her shoulders. The picture violates nearly every rule of classical technique and is a perfect example of the difference between a ballerina and …someone who isn’t one.

So, maybe she will "do better"? I don't think that's possible at this point. And I don't think giving her Forsythe will suddenly forgive her these errors. That choreography, yes, is meant to be shocking. But watch Kondaurova in "IN the MIddle". Her legs go where the choreography tells them do, but she doesn't do it in a show-off manner. The same can't be asid of Somova and therein is another difference. When you approach a step with the air of "Look at me" -- well, at least in Forsythe, it almost loses some of the intended shock appeal. Yes, so you can lift your leg, it's easy for you, we get it... but where is the tension and the surprise, the legato before the allegro? Where is the salt and pepper and spice?

As for this writer, I have not, to date seen a personal best of Somova. So if that is possible, it has yet to come.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:46 am 
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Thank you for this, Catherine. I agree 100%.

As I've pointed out in another forum where I reviewed the full opening night program, Somova has markedly regressed in quality since her Bayadere performances at the Kennedy Center three months ago (which were pretty bad but at least not awful). To my eyes, she was trying to 'control' things a bit in DC. Now, for NYC, she has thrown the bits of 'classical control' out the window and is back to 2005. I wonder if this is due to the imminent departure of her big backers, Vaziev and his wife Chenchikova (who is Somova's coach)? It's almost as if Somova has decided -- "OK, they're going so now I'm on my own. It's 'Damn the torpedoes - full speed ahead!'"


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 4:54 am 
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Hm. Well I wasn't in DC for those Bayaderes, so I can't comment on those one way or another. To me it is just more of the same each time I see her.

I don't know about throwing anything out the window given the turbulence at home base. Could be. But who knows? In many ways though I think Somova really has a mind of her own. I just watched the TV5Monde French video from 2005 which profiles Lopatkina, Obratsova, Vishneva and Somova (and a tad of Zakharova too). In that video it shows both Vasiev and Chenchikova correcting her after curtain. Vasiev *repeatedly* tells her not to throw the attitude releve. And she repeatedly does what he asks her not to do. I think it's a preference on her part and a physical weakness as well. ie. I think she *gets her kicks* (pun intended) from whacking her leg, showing off so to speak. And she can't be bothered with the additional energy required to control herself. I used to think she just needed a different coach. Frankly now I dont think she would listen. So I guess in that respect I agree with you, there does seem to be a bit of carelessness and "world be darned" attitude there, one way or another.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 5:19 am 
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Right, Catherine. Thanks for the reminder of that film, which was shot between '03/'04 around the time that Somova was preparing for her debut in Swan Lake. I had forgotten. You certainly have a point there...but then who-on-earth is propping her up in the company?

I wonder what Somova is trying to achieve with this careless attitude and total eschewing of technique in NYC? Maybe she thinks that her extensions and peroxide hair may catch the eye of Peter Martins and land her a big fat contract to NYCB? As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that she might achieve is a contract to do commercials for Carefree Panty Liners.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 12:11 am 
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I haven't had time to really look at too much of the internet discussion, but please let me offer a very brief comment on what I have seen each night.


For the vast majority of the most part....

it's been for me....


Loveliness Compounded On Top Of Loveliness !


This overall impression has been led to realization by the angelic presence of the La Bayadere Shades, who are led by the number one corps de ballet Shade, Yana Selina. They have established the final and probably predominant Aura throughout all these performances and it's been a joy to experience.

There have been some exceptional performances and some interesting surprises, which I hope to be able to mention when I get a chance.


The highest quality of lead dancers and soloists alternating back and forth between a constantly changing series of parts and ballets, often in the same evening, has been as beautiful as it's been remarkable to behold.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 3:32 am 
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Natalia, that last line had me chuckling :-).

I have to say though, the fact that the audience "responds" to her legs is the crux of the problem. The honed viewers I know are all in agreement over her -- it's a consensus. People who haven't seen much ballet are impressed with the legs -- OK, fine, I can understand that. But *that* reaction is what keeps her onstage. THe bottom line is that the mass public is not educated enough in order to check their reaction -- it's really a lost cause for all of us, but at least we can commiserate together online!

++

On the bright side, the rest of the company is receiving fantastic reviews, and I'm happy (but not surprised!) about that.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 8:22 am 
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Catherine, I am not convinced that loud gasps ("Ahhhh") from the audience equate positive feedback. I gasped - but in disgust, as did former great ballerinas (like Kolpakova) who sat in front of my husband and me. During Somova's solo bow after the Paquita variation, I heard only one voice (a male) sitting behind us who yelled "Bravo! Bravo!" for Somova...then again, he yelled like an idiot all night long for anything that moved.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 8:50 am 
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Mary Cargill's review of the opening night, for Dance View Times, is now up:

http://www.danceviewtimes.com/2008/04/h ... .html#more

Cargill loved Lopatkina, had mixed feelings about Vishneva, and...

...Unfortunately, the Nikiya, Alina Somova, was not worth the effort. A dance writer really isn't qualified to write about her, since it would probably take an etymologist to understand what seemed to be the mating call of a giant stick insect...

Also up: Tobi Tobias' review for Bloomberg. A very positive review but the 'silence' about those-not-mentioned speaks volumes.

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid= ... refer=muse


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 9:14 am 
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Thanks so much for your comments so far and the links. I'm really delighted that Tereshkina, Osmolkina and Kondaurova have all been singled out for praise, three young women of exceptional ability.

:lol: Mary Cargill is very droll :lol:


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2008 10:13 am 
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The "Core" de Ballet

Viktoria Tereshkina, Ekaterina Kodaurova, Ekaterina Osmolkina, Olesia Novikova, Nadezhda Gonchar, Yana Selina, Svetlana Ivanova and so many others

has been the Heart of each of these excellent performances

along with the amazing Leonid Sarafanov

and fellow dancers, Andrian Fedeev, Yevgeny Ivanchenko, Anton Korsakov, Danila Korsuntsev and others.


Diana Vishneva

As Nikiya (La Bayadere) last night she did the softest, airiest and loveliest performance that I have ever seen her do. It was one of the best that I have seen anyone do. She was spellbinding !



Ulyana Lopatkina

I largely agree with what jpc wrote earlier. Her March 2006 performance of Swan Lake at the Mariinsky Festival may well have set the standard for this ballet and perhaps for ballet dancing in general. She was 1000% that night! It would be hoped that she can continue on like this. In any case the standard has been set.


Alina Somova

"A certain smile, a certain face can lead an unsuspecting heart [or balletomanes like us] on a merry chase." (Johnny Mathis). To my delight and the audience's she did just that last night in Paquita.


So much beauty and so much more from everyone. It's been a joy and wonder to experience.


[typo error corrected and a date changed to 2006--and spelling correction]


Last edited by Buddy on Fri Apr 04, 2008 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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