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Whoa…More Wierdness… December 21, 2012

Filed under: ballerina,ballet — theworstat @ 6:07 pm
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RBV is a it again:

Skorik vs. Stepanova

This video shows both dancers dancing the same Lilac Fairy variation.

Stepanova is by far the better of the two.  The only problem I have with her variation is that she does not maintain a pose (especially the arabesque at the end looks more like she is glad the variation is over, rather than making any statement of the serene power and joy of the Lilac Fairy).  Also, the conductor’s tempo is agonizingly slow — so slow that it’s distracting.  I notice this a lot in Russian ballet videos, and it’s a habit I wish they’d get over.  The tempo is one place where I really prefer the full-speed-ahead dancing of the New York City Ballet, where, it seems, you dance at concert speed or retire.

The only other thing I wish from Stepanova is more of an air of command.  She still looks like a corps dancer plucked out at the last minute and given a solo.  She needs to take over the stage and in this case, give the feeling that she can easily tell Carabosse where to get off.  I just don’t see that yet — at least, not enough of it.  I’m sure it will come with time.

As for Skorik, I’ve long noticed what seems to be a problem with her right foot.  This showed up first in the film A Beautiful Tragedy and hasn’t improved since then.  The foot’s wobbly or something; she continually seems to be rising on pointe on the outside of her big toe, then falling off.  In watching videos of other ballerinas with beautiful feet, I’ve come to the conclusion that this may be in part a camera-angle problem; a lot of the women seem to be doing the same thing when in fact they are squarely over the toe box.  It’s just that Oxana actually does seem to come down off pointe very, very fast after rising up, which adds to the illusion that she is falling off the side of her toe.

In fact, both her feet, while lovely, look weak.  It’s said that such pretty feet usually need a ton of work in order to stay strong enough for pointe; perhaps that is her problem.  Anyway, she seems to be crashing out of her pirouettes rather than completing them with composure; her feet just smash to the floor.  Overall, her dancing looks a tiny bit choppy and disjointed; certainly it looks dispirited.  And she’s just too, too thin.  She’s rather hard to watch; one worries that she may shatter at any second.

And yet the director of the company loves the way she looks and despite vocal dissatisfaction from the fans, he continues to push her career ahead at breakneck speed.   Stepanova, by contrast, is edging up through the ranks as if she were looking forward to a 40 year career instead of a 20 year career.  Why?  She has a figure and she appears shorter and more compact than Skorik.  Certainly she is not in that Skorik/Somova Wet-Noodle Girl mode (then again, Skorik these days seems more like a dry brittle noodle).  This apparently does not put her in the position of being a company favorite, even if she is occasionally brilliant.  It’s a shame.

Anyway, the comments section reveal something that would really drive Eric Conrad nuts: at one point, RBV states that Maryinsky dancers are better than Bolshoi dancers.  LOL this argument is spreading and spreading.  Now we’ve got Russians belittling Russians.

Certainly no company in the world has port de bras like the Maryinsky’s, but that’s the only advantage I see over the Bolshoi.  That’s just me, however, observing from a tremendous distance.

My point today was to point out that the weirdness continues.  I guess rabid fans will be rabid fans, no matter what the subject.  RBV is certainly a rabid fan of the Maryinsky.

And certainly it is seeming more and more that he is at least partially right about Skorik.  In watching a lot of videos of her recently, I found I became so accustomed to hops, sudden stops, outright stumbles and extra steps that later watching another ballerina with her act together came as a sort of shock.  But somehow I don’t think the fault is entirely hers.  I don’t know much about that school in Perm that chewed her up and spit her out, but watching the film A Beautiful Tragedy, it seems that the teacher she had was inept at best, offering little more than verbal abuse.  In my experience, students learn very little from merely being called “stupid” and not being told why.  It also seems that this teacher was not catching and correcting some very basic errors on the part of her students, nor paying any attention whatsoever to port de bras.  (Yes, I know that school has produced some spectacular dancers. Nadia Pavolova comes to mind.)

Reports from fans who saw Skorik in the U.S. would seem to confirm that at the very least, her training was inadequate and her nerves, as a result, are brittle.  Fans were advising fans to avoid her performances and wait for some other ballerina who could be counted on to perform well.

However, one major ballet photographer did fall in love with her and declared her to be a princess in toe shoes.  A few other fans reported that she seemed “happier than usual” while dancing in the U.S. and some of her performances were downright sensational.  So maybe the Maryinsky director’s faith in her is not entirely misplaced.  But I still think she’s under way too much pressure, so much so that she is in danger of breaking down.

I heard little comment, by contrast, about Keenan Kampa while the company was in the U.S.  It remains to be seen how she’ll do; certainly we will not get the whole story from RBV, who already hates her.

I can say that it will be entertaining to watch RBV go weird about these dancers.  But I can’t say that it’s fun to be Oxana or Keenan right now, if RBV’s attitude is indicative of anything but his own prejudices.

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15 Responses to “Whoa…More Wierdness…”

  1. Jennifer S. Says:

    I don’t think there’s anything entertaining about a grown man making very personal and prejudicial attacks against ballerinas he deems bad. What is worse is that he has encouraged his vocal followers to do the same. It is understandable to discuss technical faults or lack of awareness to music, qualities that many Marinsky ballerinas unfortunately possess, but it is another to use inflammatory language. I wonder if he and his ilk would be able to say these things if they were to come face to face with Oksana Skorik or Keenan Kampa. He used to be more objective, but not anymore. His channel and comments are now nothing more than screeds against dancers whom he declares unworthy of attention or fame, or simply those dancers whom he sees as threats to popularity of his favorite dancers. Oh, that and promote his favorite dancers no matter how middling they are. A dancer can be crap technically but if she has what he thinks are great arms, then she is a fantastic ballerina in his book. So yes, he has his own idiosyncrasies that he tries to impose upon others. God forbid if you post a dissenting comment on his videos, you will either be shouted down by his rabid supporters with their pack mentality, or have your comments marked as spams. He is arbiter of which dancer is deserving of personal attacks, that is how he justifies those vile comments. It is the right thing to do you see, to attack Skorik, Kampa, and Olga Smirnova, because they are unworthy dancers. Hey I am far from a fan of all these three subjects of his recent attacks, but I also do not condone talking trash about dancers the way he and his minions do.

    Oksana Skorik is the sad culmination of looks before substance. She is the symbol of what was bound to happen at the Marinsky, given their favoring of tall, skinny dancing figures. Then you add in Keenan Kampa, who’s come in just at the right time to fan the flames of Russian superiority regarding all things ballet.

    • theworstat Says:

      I do think he goes too far, but I watch his videos and read his trash talk anyway to glean whatever nuggets of actual information I can about what’s going on at the Maryinsky. Meantime I can’t help but to chuckle at the childishness.

      There was another YouTube vlogger who was a huge Maryinsky fan and also very critical of the company at times, but s/he was much more respectful of those dancing for the company. Unfortunately, that person disappeared over a year ago. And so we are left with RBV.

      RBV also showed a clip of Stepanova receiving flowers after her Lilac Fairy performance (December 13, I believe). She got more flowers than even the evening’s prima. I can’t help but believe that at least some of them were from RBV. There’s something rather creepy about this person, but I watch, anyway, to see the dancers and to try to find out what’s going on.

      I believe that eventually RBV will go too far and perhaps YouTube will shut him down.

      • theworstat Says:

        I just now saw the video where he savages Smirnova (who I rather like). Ah-ha. There’s a problem here: he seems to think Pavlova trained at his beloved Vaganova Academy. She did not. She trained at the same place the one he hates so much — Skorik — trained: the academy in Perm. Big Foot In Mouth slip-up there….

      • atlantic Says:

        I agree with the creepiness. He obviously sent those flowers since he made a point about filming it. And how does he have all of those videos of her schooling? I am assuming he must either be related to her or work at the school. He does have a wealth of info so honestly I will continue watching.

  2. atlantic Says:

    I was also disturbed by the RBV comments. I concede that Stepanova was superior to Skorik in the clip, but that was only two dancers. Like you said, there were faults in Stepanova’s variation too, but just not as many glaring technical faults. I am sure there have been better Lilac fairies in the past. I enjoy seeing the clips of the Mariinsky, but his comments are absolutely absurd. He even has a video criticizing Lopatkina for her height (which has nothing to do with her technical ability). I was under the impression that Lopatkina was liked across the board, but I could be wrong.

    The thing that I do not understand is his love for Somova. I was under the impression that she was not well liked (at least in the past) and still has her detractors. I am not sure that there is much of a difference between the two. In addition he is a huge fan of
    Makhalina; and I have heard her rise in the ranks was questionable as well.

    I will disclose that I have been rooting for Skorik since I saw the film. However, I see that maybe she is not ready for these promotions. I also suspect that one does not refuse a promotion at the Mariinsky. She may not necessarily want these roles, but I highly doubt she is a position to refuse them.

    RBV is alleging that her promotions are due to the film (was it really that popular?) and her ‘sponsor’. Does the Mariisnky seek sponsors for individual dancers?

    • theworstat Says:

      Now that the Maryinsky is no longer getting money from the Russian government (at least, that’s what I hear), they may well be accepting sponsorship money for certain dancers. There was a rumor that this happened years ago with another dancer who had a very strong start with the Maryinsky but later flamed out and now is a joke. It’s an interesting subject, but it’s hard to get the absolute truth.

      Like you I doubt that “A Beautiful Tragedy” was popular enough where the Maryinsky would have promoted Skorik just because of it. It seems more likely that she has a powerful agent and/or benefactor.

      • atlantic Says:

        I think it must receive some support, but surely less than in the imperial or soviet eras. If the theater needs a sponsor or two to keep the doors open, I guess it has to happen. It isn’t the end of the world. Ballet, above all, is entertainment. No one will die if the swan queen flubs a few steps. I doubt Stepanova is the first or the last good dancer to languish in the corps for one reason or another. This does not justify the mean spirited comments. Is he really purchasing tickets for her performances in order to film them and then criticize her? This is adding to the weird factor…

      • theworstat Says:

        Yeah the more I think about it, the more I keep thinking of someone I ran into about a decade ago in figure skating…long story, but it was pretty creepy.

  3. Cat Says:

    I’ve also been following the videos for a while – I can understand the controversy. What has always bothered me is his undying love for Somova, and claiming how artistic she already was during her school years. I can’t confirm this, Somova has very much developed musically and otherwise, but it took a lot of work and I believe when she was first going through the ranks of soloist there were also quite a few who didn’t understand why. Maybe Skorik simply isn’t up to the pressure like Somova, however I do think she could have potential, but that she’s being pushed to hard too soon. But like someone here already posted, it’s not her choice which roles to dance.

    But more to the point, as much as I enjoy RBVs videos, I think the slamming and unnecessary harsh criticism and the contrary fawning over certain dancers has got to stop. Putting out so much negative energy against people like that for the whole world to see, and then again fawning over (also some young student as of recently) is rather unappetizing. On a different point, I really enjoy this blog – very insightful!

    • theworstat Says:

      Thanks Cat!

      Yes, RBV has gone, in just a few days, from being a grim amusement for me to being something I recoil from. However, I can’t stop watching the videos, which are available nowhere else that I know of.

      I never understood his love of Somova either. Yes, a few of her performances in school were outstanding, and I did see a recent video of her (probably shot last year) as the Sugar Plum Fairy that was incredible. She just twinkled.

      But there was a long period of time where she, like Skorik after her, just wasn’t doing very well. That reputation lingers with a fair number of fans. Another thing: I noticed recently that RBV seems to have a preference for smaller ballerinas with actual figures. Somova never fit that mold at all. Very strange.

      She is now a mature ballerina and I applaud her for surviving it all; I even enjoy watching her dance now and then. But no matter what RBV claims, she was once in pretty much the same position as Skorik.

      • Jennifer S. Says:

        There really isn’t much difference between rbv’s Greatest Ballerina of All Time, Alina Somova, early on in her career and Skorik’s current situation. Somova while technically stronger than Skorik at same age, also had inconsistent and messy problems in her technique, not to mention poor turnout on her supporting leg. In fact my theory on her sky high extensions early on was to hide the fact that she doesn’t have great turnout while dancing. While in class and on barre, that’s another story. But in performances where she’s actually dancing, you will notice Somova’s high extensions come at the price of losing turnout on her supporting leg. This neglect of proper placement, along with lack of cohesion or fluidity between her upper and lower body movements, caused Somova to have many detractors early on. She has since corrected some of these limitations, and looks more fluid. Part of it is her toning down of tacky extensions to focus on keeping as much turnout as she naturally has when moving. Still not the greatest turnout but at least she’s not hiding it with showing us unnecessary extensions to compensate. Somova’s early performances had the same, jarring, disjointed feel as Skorik has currently.

        The main problem I have with rbv and others’ nasty comments against Skorik and to lesser degree others, is that they know Skorik to be emotionally fragile. Yet they still find it a sport to defame her in unnecessary ways, calling her ugly names and dehumanize her. To my thinking this goes way, way beyond ballet criticism and instead goes into bullying, straight and simple. Juxtapose that ugliness with rbv’s incessant fawning over certain favorites of his, who are still languishing in corps or coryphee level, then it becomes extra hard to comprehend. Some of the dancers he loves haven’t done anything of value as of yet, to deserve the sort of fawning he has for them. Then you see some of his comments about their bodies or figures and it’s just yuck. You’re right, he seems to prefer big chested dancers with hips, at least recently. I know his love for Somova goes way back. Anyways the newer dancers he fawns over are I think Oksana Marchuk. Marchuk has a few videos on yt that are from her graduation. One of them was La Sylphide pas de deus. While I think it was charming, nothing of it suggests Marchuk to be The Greatest Soubrette of All Time, as rbv proclaims on his videos. He seems to think Marchuk’s sunny smile is a big deal. Mmm okay, that’s just one of his many odd views that he tries to push on other people.

  4. Cat Says:

    Exactly! Same goes for Yulia Stepanova. While I don’t doubt for a second that she’s a lovely, well-trained dancer, there’s nothing extraordinary about her IMHO. Yet he claims that the Mariinsky management is blatantly overlooking her ginormous talent and is letting her ‘rot’ as a coryphee.

    I agree fully with the Somova-vs-Skorik. Back when Somova was starting up in the ranks, she looked at times a bit out of control, and I was often more than aghast at her lack of musicality. However, she has greatly improved, and I saw some fairly recent videos of her as Aurora which I found charming and very pleasing to watch.

    More to the point: I completely agree that RBV (and a few others that seem to share his opinion and comment regularly on his videos) is crossing the line with his comments about Kampa and Skorik. It’s one thing to state ones opinon, but this is just downright bullying, and I sincerely wish (despite a few wonderful videos on the channel) that he could be put out of youtube. It’s not necessary to behave like that behind an anonymous screen name on an internet platform and go out of their way to attempt to make someones life miserable. I wish Skorik would have moved up the ranks through smaller solos first, and gotten some more security. I do think she has potential, but I think that she was pushed to fast/too hard.

  5. atlantic Says:

    RBV knows Oksana is emotionally fragile and is exploiting it. It is a ridiculous thing to do for something that is intended for entertainment. No one is performing brain surgery here. I believe the art form should have integrity, but come on. I hope she has not seen these videos. I fear she probably has :(. I suppose the Mariisnky does not police youtube like the Balanchine Trust. They probably would not complain about the videos on the site.

  6. thillfie Says:

    Where can I find these “RBV” videos you guys are talking about? I mean, who is this guy. Cuz when I serached YouTube, I couldnt find anything.


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