For a change, none of this was on RBV’s YouTube channel. I found these videos on other channels: there was one of Oxana Skorik, and another of Keenan Kampa, both dancing the Queen of the Dryads. I’m not going to share them unless asked, however, because…well, read on.
Skorik was, as usual, all flying arms and legs, making little sense in terms of classicism. But she did okay (at least, judging from the extreme distance the video was shot at) until she flat-out fell out of a fouette. I think I have yet to see a Maryinsky-related video of her where she didn’t look scared stiff (literally), and/or wasn’t making some big technical blunder.
I think the video of Kampa was shot by Zhiganshina’s father? I don’t know. It was very close up. She did not stumble, but I wouldn’t call it a great performance. Unfortunately it was a bit more like a jittery rehearsal under the too-sharp eye of an abusive coach. As I said, she completed the steps, but only just. She didn’t float and charm; she landed like a chunk of change and didn’t portray anything but worry. She also apparently forgot she had an upper torso and arms to deal with. (Watched the video again this morning; didn’t look quite as bad, but still nowhere near where it needs to be.)
Worse, she was immediately blown off the stage by little Zhiganshina, dancing the role of Cupid/Amour. Talk about adding insult to injury! For those who don’t already know, Ksenia Zhiganshina is a student at Vaganova, not a Maryinsky dancer.
Reports on Kampa’s other major debuts thus far are also rather dismal, but I’m not relying on reports because a lot of them are coming from RBV’s camp. I have sensed, however, that both girls (Skorik and Kampa) seem to be almost collapsing from nerves. Given the current prima-ballerina shortage in the Maryinsky, they are both under tremendous pressure and Kampa, at least, seems not to be dancing at anywhere near the capacity she seems capable of. Skorik, on the other hand, may not have any more capacity left. Certainly she seems physically weak and this never improves as time goes by. Being run down mentally by continued bad performances in a hostile environment only makes a problem like that worse. One shudders to think where it may lead.
As for Kampa, I still wish her the best, but the thought occurs that she may have to pursue her career with another company, well away from the xenophobic pressure cooker she is currently trapped in. Maybe a coryphee-type position at ABT (they don’t officially have coryphees, but…) wouldn’t be a bad idea. She could grow her dancing and her career in calm and quiet, and still have her Vaganova training as her calling card. That is something no one can ever take away from her.
One also wonders if eventually Kondaurova will end up dancing all the performances, because two primas are out on maternity leave, two are either being retired or at least not dancing much (or at all), one — the icon of the Maryinsky — dances no more than one or two performances per month, and the last one, a true international superstar, has long been a part-timer at the Maryinsky. That leaves Daria Pavlenko (who I never hear a lot about; is she injured?) and Yekatarina Kondaurova as the sole full-time primas. To make up the slack, the Maryinsky has been giving Kondaurova a ferocious performance schedule and also placing previously-ignored dancers in lead roles — about time, because they have long since had the reputation of having a corps full of potential primas. But for some reason the bulk of the pressure seems to be falling on Kampa and Skorik. This may be sponsorship-related (I still have no proof that this is actually happening), or publicity-related. Whatever it is, it is happening, and it is not fair to anyone — least of all Kampa and Skorik.
I hear that our other odd girl out, Joy Womack over at the Bolshoi, is debuting (or maybe already has) in a solo role this month (EDIT: just read her website; it seems she made her initial debut with the Bolshoi on December 31; no mention of a solo). So far she seems so blissfully happy that you can practically see the glow all the way over here. It will be interesting to compare her reception to what’s happening to Kampa at the Maryinsky. I daresay that Womack is doing a great job of becoming Russian, and thereby may be inoculating herself against most of the types of attacks that seem to be affecting Kampa so badly. However, this month will tell us a lot about how true that is.
All in all, it sounds like the Maryinsky is playing a cruel game with its dancers. What the Bolshoi is doing remains to be seen.