CriticalDance Forum

Makhar Vasiev Takes Post of Director at La Scala
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Author:  Sacto7654 [ Tue Nov 11, 2008 10:31 am ]
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Cassandra wrote:
I am of the opinion that Lopatkina is now also “past her peak” and never truly returned to form after her injury of about five years ago.

I think everyone agrees on that! :) After all, she is 35 years old and approaching the age that dancers usually start to retire (around 40 years old). I keep on thinking Lopatkina's performance as Odette/Odile that was filmed in 2006 (now available on DVD and on November 18, 2008 on Blu-ray high-definition disc) may have been the last hurrah in this role, and we may have found a successor in flaming-red haired Ekaterina Kondaurova. 8) That's why I've said publicly that you will see Lopatkina follow the steps of Maya Plisetskaya, by doing a lot more modern dance roles (Plisetskaya was doing a lot of modern dance work by the early 1970's as her career started to decline).

Author:  KANTER [ Wed Nov 12, 2008 2:50 am ]
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The taller and heavier the build, the shorter the career.

The impact of the centrifugal forces on the body become almost impossible to control over time, the rather laxer, etiolated ligaments that allow tall people to move at all, will generally prove too weak to stand up to the stress of classical dancing - even under the conditions of thirty years ago, when people did not hard-point the foot, pick up the leg, or turn every damn jeté into the splits.

Taller people are best suited to adagio work, which means that the notion of "emploi" should be brought back and adhered to. That would cut down the injury rate, and lengthen the career.

So this is not Lopatkina's fault. She is, in point of fact, simply too tall and heavy for the trade, though she done her very damndest to make the best of a rum pack of cards dealt her by fate.

Moreover, to give the fashionable "waif" look, these taller women - and even taller men - are, to put it euphemistically, cutting down on their food intake, further weakening the bone structure.

In all events, the vocabulary of classical dancing was designed by, and is best suited to, persons of rather slight and small construction.

We should stop looking at classical dancing with our eye (does she have a cute bum? does he have winsome features? nice hair?), and start looking at it with our brains.

As for Makhar Vaziev, the fellow has always been a big fan of the Basketball Team style of ballet dancer, and it is he, I believe, who has pushed the likes of Alina Somova. This does NOT augur well for La Scala.

Why, in Heaven's Name, does Italy need to appoint a Russian to the position? Nothing against Russians, but why Makhar? Why can Italy not revive her own, glorious dancing tradition (does anyone still remember Enrico Cecchetti, who died exactly eighty years ago this day?), and promote her own remarkable dancers?

Italy has no reason on the planet to feel "inferior" to the Russian art world, and this type of kow-towing should, in my humble opinion, STOP NOW.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Wed Nov 12, 2008 8:23 am ]
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Hi Kanter,

Your point about Cecchetti is a very valid and cogent one. The Cecchetti technique seems to be dying out in favor of the others (Russian, French, American), and it would be a shame if the changing of the guard in Italy contributed to that trend.

Makhar has been the main supporter of Somova, yes, and I share your fears on that note as well.

I have only one disagreement - Lopatkina is far from heavy. She is, for her height, painfully thin. There's not an ounce of fat (and little muscle) on her skeleton. She's the epitomy of the tall waif in fact, and I"d be surprised if she did not weigh the same as many of her shorter and fleshier counterparts.


NataliaN, I was hesitant of writing the same thing about Tereshkina's face for the very same reason. Political correctness in the States has become a prison of sorts, almost as if you swing far enough to the right, you end up back on the left (and vice versa). I was just pointing out the different approach to evaluating ballerinas, here vs in the West. Cassandra's dinner discussion that she mentioned illustrates the Western point of view very well.


Cassandra, good question. I don't think it is ageism-- although it is a hard call to make. It is likely a bit of both. Makhalina is past 40 and still dances (though rarely); Ayupova retired this past year and I think she is 39. Nioradze is *well over* 40 now and continues to perform worldwide. It is a case-by-case basis, it seems here. I've heard company members state that if you are still in shape and willing, they (the MT admin) won't force you offstage. I think life intervenes though -- injuries, family, fatigue. But it's a fine line to really define ageism versus the Vaganova/Mariinsky system taking it's toll. Chicken/egg? How many world class ballerinas really do perform continuously *after* age 40, on a global scale? I know there are those that have, but I think you can count them on two hands -- out of a much, much larger total pool. Few continue past their mid-forties, at least in classical works. So I would tend to say it's the profession, not just at the Kirov but everywhere. Interesting question to ponder.

Author:  Cygne [ Wed Nov 12, 2008 6:05 pm ]
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I'm sorry I'm late to this discussion. IMO, I think La Scala is making a huge mistake. Milan need not book Vaziev, of all people. His assets and liabilities, (which outweigh his assets), have been discussed at length in these threads. His reputation precedes him. I'd have thought the ideal candidate would have been Alessandra Ferri. IMO she's Milan's most illustrious product of the last generation. I agree that Cechetti is disappearing - in a way, that say, Ashton is disappearing from Covent Garden, (and that's another issue for the RB threads). I also agree that Katya Kondaurova will thrive, survive and succeed to PD without Madame Vazieva :arrow: if she's not obstructed. Now that Olga's leaving for La Scala, her other "star" pupil's long term future is another matter. I concur with Natalia that Tereshkina's face is a drawback. Obviously, if she didn't have technique and artistry to burn, she wouldn't have made it to Principal Dancer. Tereshkina's fate could have easily gone in the opposite direction. The authorities could've said, " . . . No: Her face isn't right," and buried her forever in the lower ranks. Thankfully, they didn't do this to her.

Superb technique covers a multitude of "sins." On the other hand, there are 'attractive' dancers who simply can't execute. There are physically gorgeous dancers, with white hot technique who (1) never get past "GO," and/or (2) never get their due or ever get pushed. For example, how is it that Pavlenko, (when active), got two (2) Petersburg "Giselles," and not one (1) home opening season "Swan Lake" in more than a decade? She still hasn't been granted an opening season O/O at home. That's inexplicable and incredible. When (if ?) she returns IMO she's most deserving of this honor, and moreso now because of what Catherine stated in her previous post. 3/6 of the creme is past their 'sell by' date, and it's getting thin at the top. Another example: Why does Obratzova, an IBC Gold Medalist, have to guest outside Petersburg to debut as Kitri, Aurora and Raymonda - the first and last roles being debuts outside Russia? Whereas others, (such as You Know Who :? ), slip through the cracks, are excused everything, get pushed past overkill, and then get promoted far beyond what their resumes and international critical evaluations warrant. Lately, sanity has made a comeback. The dancer that best fits the description above, (Somova), wasn't first cast during last month's U.S. tour. Politics is the unknown variable, and the 500 lb. ape in the corner of every company. Management's choices are often perplexing. And because of this fact, in some cases, flaming technique and Gold Medals simply aren't enough. Alot depends on who is at command and control, which faction(s) have backstage and front office advantage, and who's pushing/underwriting whom. MO.

Author:  Sacto7654 [ Wed Nov 12, 2008 8:40 pm ]
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Cygne wrote:
Tereshkina's fate could have easily gone in the opposite direction. The authorities could've said, " . . . No: Her face isn't right," and buried her forever in the lower ranks. Thankfully, they didn't do this to her.

I think despite what some Russian balletomanes think about her physically, Viktoria Tereshkina DID make it to not only Principal dancer status but also won a prestigious Honored Artist of Russia title. That type of success ensures that there are enough balletomanes in Russia that support her continued work at the Mariinsky Theatre. Having seen her dancing live way back on October 14, 2008, you have to admire her technically superb dancing style, but alas, she may not enjoy the type of popularity Ulyana Lopatkina now enjoys and what Ekaterina Kondaurova is about to enjoy within the next two years (I can actually see Kondaurova being named Principal dancer within the next few years, because in my opinion her career is rising at a rate almost as fast as Lopatkina did after she graduated from the Vaganova Academy in 1991).

By the way, I do agree about the potential problems with Vasiev working with the Teatro de la Scala. His emphasis on more "acrobatic" dancers along the lines of Alina Somova and Svetlana Zakharova might not sit well with the balletomanes used to the former director of ballet at La Scala, to say the least.

Author:  NataliaN [ Thu Nov 13, 2008 6:11 am ]
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Cygne wrote:
Why does Obratzova, an IBC Gold Medalist, have to guest outside Petersburg to debut as Kitri, Aurora and Raymonda - the first and last roles being debuts outside Russia? .....

Make that three-for-three, Cygne. Genya had to travel to Sarasota, Florida, USA ("Space Ballet Company") to debut Aurora in spring '05, way before her debut at her home theater!

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Thu Nov 13, 2008 12:50 pm ]
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Politics never ceases to amaze and depress me.

(I can actually see Kondaurova being named Principal dancer within the next few years, because in my opinion her career is rising at a rate almost as fast as Lopatkina did after she graduated from the Vaganova Academy in 1991).

I can too, but the question is, why has it taken so long? And why is a polished, mature *ballerina* overlooked for promotion in favor of the throwaway flexnastic acrobatics of Somova? If you watch everyone on the principal dancer roster dance, the one square peg that doens't match the rest in style is Somova. And yet ...this exists before our very eyes.

Same goes for Obratsova. How she keeps her beautiful smile on, is beyond me.

Apologies for veering from topic (guilty as charged), but this had to be said :-).

Author:  Cygne [ Thu Nov 13, 2008 2:47 pm ]
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Everyone, please pardon my distress, but I am both frustrated and livid. I may even be censured or expunged for the following rant/catharsis, but so be it.

This "promotion" was Olga & Makhar's parting shot. I'd say Somova's ascension to "Principal" is the Barrier, the "Obstruction" that I mentioned facing Kondaurova, Obratzova in yesterday's post. It appears that Mr. Fateev, and the Mt. Olympians of the Maryinsky's management were determined to elevate her - regardless. This defies common sense. I ask you all: Where do (WHERE CAN) the management go from here? What's in store for us and the Maryinsky for 2009-2010 season and the future? Will Somova be pronounced Assoluta of the Maryinsky before the year is out too? And what do the Vazievs have in store for LA SCALA :shock:?

NOTE: Reality check time :arrow: Somova didn't even make annual as a First Soloist.

Somova isn't proven and hasn't proven herself in any of the roles that are on her thin bio. Just a glance at all the other Principals, Soloists and coryphee's repetroires find Somova's study-list severely wanting. I posted this fact last month. Also, compare the critical literature that exists for Somova against any of the other Maryinsky personnel - whatever level - there's no comparison. In the wake of Kondaurova's reportedly triumphant debut as O/O, Obratzova's first Raymonda last month in Thailand, The Army of the Worthy, Un-sung and Established have been soundly punched in the face and laid out. Is there anyone who's serious and for real in Petersburg who can honestly say with a straight face, that Somova is a competent dancer, forget professional caliber - but a competent dancer? Even Ayupova's happy return (for however long it lasts), does not, cannot outweight this atrocity :arrow: MO.

Author:  NataliaN [ Thu Nov 13, 2008 3:30 pm ]
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Cygne, you are right about Somova not having even been First Soloist for a year...or barely six months! She, Obraztsova and Golub were promoted just this past April/May.

As much as I love Evgenia Obraztsova, even I would say that the female First Soloist most worthy to be promoted to principal is Ekaterina OSMOLKINA, followed by NOVIKOVA, then OBRAZTSOVA. Somova simply did not compute in my short-list of possible principals. Choryphee perhaps for the sheer number of times that she's galumped the Dryad Queen. Not worthy of anything higher than Choryphee, most definitely not Principal Ballerina!?

This is an abomination. There has never been a sadder moment in the history of the Imperial Russian Ballet, through the centuries and for all time. Petipa must be twirling in his grave.

p.s. - Catherine & moderators - Feel free to move the Somova-related posts to the correct thread. Cygnet and I were responding to the moment. Ahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!

Author:  Sacto7654 [ Thu Nov 13, 2008 10:59 pm ]
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By the way, in my opinion after Ekaterina Kondaurova's recent triumphant performance in Swan Lake (which is probably the reference standard for ballet performance evaluation at MT in a leading soloist role for a female ballet dancer), I would not be surprised that Kondaurova would go from Second Soloist all the way up to Principal status. Mind you, in this case it would be highly justified, given Kondaurova's numerous triumphant performances over the past 2-3 years. :D I see Kondaurova taking over more and more of the dancing roles that Ulyana Lopatkina used to dance, especially now that I can see Lopatkina start to scale back the number of classical ballet roles she dances now that she has reached 35 years old.

Author:  ripowam [ Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:16 pm ]
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Guys come on. Obratsova is 24. The fact that she hasn't made her debut in every major ballerina role at the Kirov yet is not something that keeps me up at night.

One year older, Tereshkina has been overloaded with roles and work and there's a generic quality that has crept in as a result. She is probably the youngest woman ever given the title of "Zoslushina" [Honored Artist] and I don't know that it's warranted.

Author:  ripowam [ Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:26 pm ]
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Kondaurova has been unofficially coached by her husband, Islom Baimuradov, for the last several years. They married only recently but have lived together for the last few years.

Catherine, do you really think Chystakova is a coach of "unparalleled" knowledge? She's a very good coach for technique but Lopatkina has always gone her own way as far as interpretation is concerned; her previous coach, Kurgapkina, also concentrated on technique with her.

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:19 pm ]
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It's quite common inside the theatre for the "ballet couples" to coach each other unofficially.

And yes, having seen her at work in the rehearsal studio, I do consider Chistiakova an excellent coach.

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