And in fact, I actually find her uber slow tempos to be an asset in this role; few ballerinas could take things that slow and have the legato look-and-feel, the continuity of uninterrupted movement during long phrasing. THAT is a skill and a talent too.
Sorry, but I can't agree with that at all. It was Makarova who first initiated the trend towards unbearably slow tempi and the present crop of Kirov dancers all seem in various degrees to be following her misguided example. You would think that as Russians they would have more respect for Tchaikovsky's music.
In Russia, both the dancers and their coaches decide which tempo best suits them, and what they both want to present and emphasize in that role/variation. In the best case scenario, it's a collaboration which also includes the conductor once rehearsals move to the stage, and also in performance. Russian stars, both male and female traditionally request tempi which suits them. This practice might be considered an indulgence in most Western companies. Makarova wasn't the first (nor is she the last) to do this. When she first appeared in the West, this "habit" of her's was considered unique. It was atypical of Western primas who, on the whole, followed tempos as written.
For example, Semenyaka's tempo for the clapping variation in "Raymonda," was slower than Kolpakova's tempo. Kolpakova followed Glazunov's tempo as he wrote it
. On the other hand, the late great Bessmertnova, took that variation slower
than Semenyaka.The men also modify variations and make cuts in scores to suit their individual technique. I recall that Zaklinsky danced a very simplified and cut Don Q Act 3 variation, compared to Ruzimatov. Ruzimatov danced the complete variation with no score cuts, inserting all the embellishments he was known for.
Back to "Swan Lake." "Lake's" score was tampered with from the very beginning. At the Bolshoi in 1877 the very first Odette requested that Tchaikovsky make cuts and add the Russian Dance so that she would have a show-stopper in Act 3. This dance wasn't apart of his original score. In fact the composer complained that it would upset the tonality of the entire
score. But he obliged her. The first choreographer in 1877 also slashed Tchaikovsky's score. The Maryinsky did justice to Tchaikovsky's work after they revived it and premiered the standard text in 1895. Russian musicians and dancers adore Tchaikovsky, and this score in particular, because it's considered the genesis of Russian ballet, and Russian ballet music. However, Gergiev's recent "treatment" of the score in Lopatkina's live performance DVD and CD contradicts the latter point. The corps de ballet could barely keep up with his baton. Now, if that's not disrespect for the composer, (and the dancers onstage), I don't know what is. Although he's AD of the Maryinsky Theatre, he's not a ballet
P.S. IMO Victor Fedotov is still the best ballet conductor; he put the music under their feet. May he rest in peace.