Catherine Pawlick wrote:
In the interest of lack of time, I will keep this short.
On June 18, 19 and 26, this year's Vaganova Academy graduates performed their annual graduation concerts at the Mariinsky Theatre. June 18 and 19 were (unfortunately) identical programs, even down to the casting, which has not been the case in years past. June 26 promises to be a different program/cast.
To quote one of the Academy pedagogues, "This year is a weak group, and there are no boys." A sweeping statement but there is some truth to it. The jewels of the group are the of course Kristina Shapran and Olga Smirnova. Shapran danced only a short pas de deux; Smirnova was the lead in the Kingdom of the Shades scene, as Nikiya, both June 18 and 19 (yesterday and today).
Sergei Filin and Yuri Burlaka watched/attended both performances and Filin confirmed that Smirnova has accepted his offer to join the Bolshoi Ballet. A loss for Petersburg but given the recent somewhat uneven administrative events within the MT, I would probably do the same in her shoes, at least right now, this year.
Smirnova is a polished ballerina already and was even a year or two ago, when she performed as an undergraduate in the end of the year graduation performances. Slender, long and lean, with a beautiful face, she has a flexible extension, beautiful arches, a beautiful elastic back and perfect Vaganova Academy port de bras. Her technique is certain. I could see no flaws at all in her performance, which says a great deal about someone just out of school!
Shapran is similar in many ways -- she has darker hair, and the pas they gave her was more modern and emotional. Both are stunning to watch. It will be interesting to see if Shapran joins the ranks of the Mariinsky or not...
Thank you Catherine for the report! IMO this is a surprise coup d'etat for Filin and Olga Smirnova! Congratulations to her! This is very exciting and unexpected news! It would be something if K. Shapran also opts for another company, (that is should she be given a job offer by the Mariinsky). Personally, I don't blame Smirnova either for making this choice. It shows that she was wide awake while at the Academy about the current ballet administration at the Mariinsky Theatre. If it happens that Shapran goes elsewhere, I wouldn't blame her either. It's sad to hear that in the Class of 2011, there were only two female diamonds and no male diamonds.