Okay, here’s my take on Oxana Skorik, and on the video in the previous post (EDIT: the video is no longer available to the public on YouTube).
The person who made the video is a devotee of the Maryinsky,and extremely knowledgeable about Russian ballet in general and that company in particular.
The same person is also a HUGE fan of Alina Somova. I’ll try to clear away this mess first.
I am not a fan of Alina Somova. If you’ve been reading this blog, you’re probably aware of that. I spent a long time questioning her quick rise through the ranks of the Maryinsky. She looked to me like a collection of wet noodles; she couldn’t turn, couldn’t (or wouldn’t) control her extensions, couldn’t act, didn’t appear to be especially musical, etc., etc.
And yet, there she was….prima ballerina.
I still think she became a prima a long time before she earned it. But she did finally earn it. Recent videos show a mature ballerina. Kudos to her for surviving it all. Many are predicting Assoluta status for her at some point in the future. I wouldn’t go that far, but I think she will go down in history as a fine, competent ballerina with considerable star power.
So in that, the maker of the video and I sharply disagree. But why am I talking about Somova in a blog article about Skorik? Well, I think it’s obvious if you’ve watched the video: one of the video-maker’s chief charges against Skorik is that she can’t turn. Ahem…there is more than one video floating around of Somova muffing turns of various kinds, including the famous fouettes in Swan Lake. In fact, I’m sure there are “mistake” videos of lots of ballerinas, because all ballerinas make mistakes (as an example, one of my very favorites, Obraztsova, has been shown to be more than a bit ahead of the music at times).
Judging by the clips displayed, Skorik also can’t act. Another “ahem.”
I guess what the video’s maker is trying to do is make Somova’s early failures look good compared to Skorik’s. And I’ll admit that if there are any videos of Somova repeatedly falling off pointe or failing to get there, or just plain stumbling, or looking blank and terrified, I’ve yet to see them. The early videos of Alina just show her looking like a very eager, half-trained puppy with no control over her floppy arms and legs.
The disadvantage Skorik has is that she’s young enough where we haven’t had a glimpse of any impending happy ending, as we have witnessed with Somova.
As for the “Assoluta” issue the video’s author tries to invent, I think that’s pretty extreme. The title “Assoluta” is usually bestowed only on the rare, special prima ballerina as her career is winding down after many years on the stage. As far as I know, no 24-year-old** ballerina in modern history has been awarded that title, or has even been discussed as being a candidate in the future — which is to say that it does not apply to an ingenue. So what brought that up? If it’s an attempt at sarcasm, it failed.
I’ve been aware that there is an incredible level of political maneuvering at the Maryinsky, but maybe there’s some kowtowing to popular culture (the film “A Beautiful Tragedy”) that I’m unaware of. Is this the basis of the video-maker’s claim? I don’t get it. At one point the video-maker whines something to the effect that Skorik will define ballet at the Maryinsky for the 21st century. Wait a minute…didn’t Somova’s professional career begin around 2003? So then, didn’t she beat Skorik to the definition-making part? Did she not clear the way for Skorik as a mistake-prone ingenue on a railroad track to principal status? And wasn’t there someone in the late 1980’s who was even worse than either one of them, yet was already dancing with the company before she graduated from the Vaganova Academy? Hmmmmmm…
What’s my opinion of Skorik? Don’t know. I haven’t seen enough of her dancing to decide. The best of what I have seen hasn’t shown me that she’s going to be terribly special in any way. But the best definitely isn’t horrible; it’s merely acceptable. There’s no big spark from the screen like I have felt and seen while watching ballerinas like Obraztsova or Vishneva, or much more recently Olga Smirnova.
I do know that the collection of clips shown in this video make Skorik look incredibly bad. Honestly I’ve seen kids do better. She appears to be inartistic and clumsy, with beautiful but useless feet, no flow, and a static upper body. She never seems to connect with her partners and sometimes almost seems to crush them by being a dead weight. And yes…she can’t turn.
But is it just a collection of her worst moments? Does anyone out there know…and would you care to share?
**I’m guessing at her age.