RBV is a it again:
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.