The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

Just another site about the love of ballet

Harsh… June 16, 2012

Filed under: ballerina — theworstat @ 6:23 am
Tags: , ,

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.


From A Beautiful Tragedy…

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 5:45 am

This is NOT my critique of Oxana Skorik, so let’s not have any whining about that. But please watch. I’ll comment in the next post

Update: this video has been made private by its producer.  I will describe it this way: it was a collection of Oxana Skorik’s most unimaginably horrible moments on stage.

9/12 update: this video has long since been taken away from public view by its producer.  I’m keeping the thumbnail up because I love her feet, lol.


Treats, treats, and more treats June 7, 2012

Filed under: ballerina,ballet — theworstat @ 5:09 am
Tags: , ,

As of today I have a new addition to my list of favorite ballerinas: Olga Smirnova.  I had heard of her before, as she had graduated from the Vaganova school and gone straight into the Bolshoi as a Soloist.  Now she is First Soloist with the Bolshoi, and I jumped at the chance to watch a video of her dancing the Lilac Fairy with Evgenia Obraztsova as Princess Aurora.  For those of us who are already Evgenia fans, and those eager to see Smirnova, watch this:

Sleeping Beauty

Want to see more of Smirnova?  I do.  Her filigree arms knock me out, as do her presence and poise, which are incredible for someone only 20 or 21 years old and one year out of the ballet academy.  Definitely “to the manor born,” this one; possibly a major star in the making (although in ballet, predictions like that can be risky):

La Bayadere

And finally, the last act of Obraztsova’s first Swan Lake:

Swan Lake

Actually the entire ballet is on YouTube right now.  I can’t wait to see Obraztsova explore this dual role further.  One gets the feeling that while she shows a great grasp of it here, she still has much more to do and say as Odette/Odile.


On the issue of anorexia June 5, 2012

Filed under: ballet — theworstat @ 5:38 pm
Tags: , , ,

Since I keep getting hits from search engines about “Suzie Dancer Anorexic,” I just want to set something straight:  if you’re looking for dirt, this is the wrong blog.    The following is for anyone who landed on this blog looking for dirt like that.  It is not for the majority of my readers.

I’ve already gone though how anorexia and ballet became synonymous.  If you care to read it, it’s a few posts back and is named “Too Thin,” or something like that.  Look in the archives.

Yes, I have mentioned anorexia as it pertains to certain dancers, but only when the dancer has publicly acknowledged the problem and overcome it.

And yes, anorexia is present in some dancers — but not all of them.  If that were the case, we’d be hearing stories of dancers dropping dead all over the place, and outside of the occasional tragedy we do not hear about that often.  Thank goodness.

Also, I do frequently write about how sick and tired I am of seeing skeletons in pointe shoes.  But that’s due to the extreme nature of the weight demands of some companies in some countries, not necessarily anorexia.  The fact is, many dancers seem to meet the weight restrictions and eat well at the same time.  How?  I don’t know, but it might have something to do with exercising 10 to 16 hours a day, 6 days a week.  Plus, as I mentioned in a previous article, some people are naturally slender.

Further, we may be at the beginning of a small push-back against extreme weight restrictions.  If this becomes a trend, I’ll remark on it later.  I seem to remember this issue being addressed by the English National Ballet, but I can’t find the link right now.

Okay, so you’re still drooling for information about the weight of Suzie Dancer?  Well the particular Suzie Dancers — there are two of them — I keep getting hits about, with “anorexia” attached to their names… both of them went to very severe Russian finishing schools.  Russia has probably the harshest weight restrictions of all.  And so these girls, through a combination of training and diet, reached the weight restrictions so they could graduate.  As far as I know, both are perfectly healthy and looking forward to long and rewarding careers.

I hope you are not disappointed.


Silence June 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 5:31 pm

I’ve been ill again, and not very inspired to write.  However, can’t help thinking about Joy Womack’s impending graduation from the Bolshoi academy, and what the future will hold for her.  I Googled the subject and found nothing newer than April, 2012.  Will be keeping my eyes peeled for more news.

Meantime, here’s a video released today by an instructor at the Bolshoi academy:

As an aside, wanna see a ballerina in a corset?  Here: Carlotta Zambelli.

What would happen if you put a corset on a ballerina of today?  She’d disappear.

P.S. — Silly me.  I just read that Womack graduated in May.  Somehow I thought graduation was in June.