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Harsh… June 16, 2012

Filed under: ballerina — theworstat @ 6:23 am
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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.

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4 Responses to “Harsh…”

  1. Hannah Says:

    I do think it is a collection of worst moments…I watched a series of her rehearsals for the black swan pas de deux and she did much better in the rehearsals. I think she gets nervous and second guesses herself on stage. Honestly. I do think she is beautiful dancer, perhaps not the best but beautiful all the same. If she were more confident that would shine through in her facial expressions and help her 100x over to find that spark, that “it factor,” if you will, when she performs. I wish for her that she can find joy through dancing and that her joy will speak to the audience. I think that is she what she lacks. Still, though, she is lovely, in my opinion.

    • theworstat Says:

      I think you hit the nail on the head. She strikes me as a person who lives too much inside her head. Maybe layers of experience will cure this. I don’t believe she deserved the thrashing she got from the person who made this video, and of course I already explained why. It bothers me that this video was made, even though I know the person’s prejudices (been following this channel for quite a while), and can guess some of the reasons. For instance, one of his/her favorites is Yulia Stepanova; she’s been stranded in the Maryinsky corps for about 5 years with only a few solo roles here and there. That could be part of this person’s “outrage,” but to take it out on a kid who came from outside the system…I don’t know. Especially when this video-maker is such an enormous fan of Somova, who in her early years displayed at least some of the same problems and is, to this day, at least as controversial as Skorik.

  2. I also agree, the young Oksana appears quite unsure while on stage. Despite that I believe she loves the art and works very hard in studio but has “personal demons” that keep her both physically and thus mentally weakened. There is a rather lovely Paquita variation on Youtube that shows plenty of promise for the future however. I’d keep an eye on her. No telling what 7-10 years of life might bring her….and us the audience!

    • theworstat Says:

      Yes, having viewed more clips of her now, I’m convinced that there’s a lot that’s worthwhile in her dancing. I battled with personal doubts and demons at her age, too, and can only hope her mentors can build her up to the point where she will be a viable prima in the future.


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