By the way, let me rephrase the question: who is the most popular Principal female dancer in the Mariinsky troupe outside of Lopatkina? I think Diana Vishneva's preference for more modern work kind of doesn't sit well with old-time balletomanes in Saint Petersburg. Viktoria Tereshkina is a really good dancer technically, but I just can't see her excite audiences like Kondaurova does (hence my suggestion of "Maya Plisetskaya flashbacks" since both Kondaurova and Plisetskaya are redheads).
Aha, point about redheads taken. It's true!
I have to say that is one thing I love about this city, seeing all the fair-skinned (nonfreckled), natural redheads. You don't find that anywhere else in the world except perhaps Prague. (Maybe Ireland, but I've never been there). And it's surprising to see it on the streets when you're not used to it. But back to the topic...
Many ...shall we say "traditionalists"... (locally) aren't fans of Vishneva. These are people who go to see Swan Lake, not Forsythe. (Of note are the severe critiques of her following her debut in SL by the Russian critics. They don't tolerate that kind of performance from a top "star".) But she does have a big following here as well. It depends on your taste I suppose. Her performance in "Legend of Love" just last Friday got really bad reviews from some of her Russian fans -- they said technically she wasn't up to par and dramatically it was boring. (!) In my humble opinion she is now past her peak and hence the foray into more modern works. She is definitely a genre ballerina and I think a soubrette (Kitri, Rubies, Tchaikovsky Pas, or dramatic ballets like Manon); she doesn't tend to do well in adagio or pure classics...however, I never saw her in her heyday at age 18-20 -- maybe she was much better then, I don't know.
To your question though, many here (again Russian balletgoers who have been frequenting the halls of the Mariinsky for decades now) dislike Tereshkina due to her face. The general assessment seems to be that a ballerina has to have a pretty face as WELL AS a pretty body. I've heard more than one babushka in the theatre saying this! Unlike in the USA where the system tends to go overboard to avoid stereotypes (and thereby lowering standards IMHO), here there are specific criteria for artists, as ballet is a visual art and this is understood. It isn't considered harsh or demeaning to expect a ballerina to be thin and beautiful, or to fire her if she isn't. There also aren't issues of anorexia here to the same extent I've heard/seen in US companies, but then MacDonald's isn't as prevalent either ... yet.
And I think this understanding that not everyone is gifted with the talent to become a ballerina with a leading company, that not everyone should, all leads to the generally more revered status of dancers here than in the States. Also just my humble opinion, but it seems that way...
ANYHOW, I mention that only bc it gets to the issue of looks... Tereshkina's technique is amazing but I think her features and this general Russian viewpoint might mean she never achieves the same cult status of Lopatkina. It remains to be seen though -- already she's received her Honored Artist title...
In sum, *my* answer to your question is probably "there isn't one". Pavlenko has sadly been out the past season -- I happen to adore her dancing but many think she is inconsistent (she's frequently compared to Alla Shelest). However, when she is ON she is ON, and I have seen more emotive humanity from that ballerina than from anyone else at the MT, Lopatkina included. She also doesn't have the sort of cult status, untouchable, secretive aura that Lopatkina does. She's more approachable. As for the others: Makhalina is past her prime, as is Nioradze, so they don't factor into the list IMHO. And Zhanna Ayupova is off the roster now.
We've got limited cream at the top at this point
But getting back on topic again, do you think the Theatro de La Scala management has the artistic sense and financial means for Vasiev to indulge in doing "historical reconstructions" of Petipa's old ballets as originally performed between 1850 and 1903? I would love to see La Scale do a proper "reconstructed" version of The Awakening of Flora, where the ballerina has a real chance to improvise (I believe when this ballet was originally performed, Mathilde Kschessinskaya, who had the role of Flora, was famous for her improvisational dancing work).
Artistic sense? Wouldn't that be up to Vasiev come January?
I don't know what his intentions are for the company...
I'm not in a position to comment on their financial situation as I just don't know -- it's not my area of expertise shall we say
. I don't gather they are a huge company though, and reconstructing any of Petipa's large works would require a large cast typically speaking -- so even if finances supported such a project, and if it was part of Vasiev's plans, would they have the talent in numbers? I don't know.