The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

Just another site about the love of ballet

She’s Amazing April 25, 2013

Filed under: ballerina,ballet — theworstat @ 5:47 pm

I have to admit something: it’s very rare that someone’s portrayal of the death of Nikya makes sense to me.  The extreme mood swing in the scene seems to be what stops most of them, although with a few dancers I get the feeling that they don’t make a connection between the choreography and the story.  Catherine Kondaurova is an exception:

Death of Nikiya

Although she and Evgenia Obraztsova are two entirely different dancers in (in some ways) opposite realms because of their height and movement qualities, emotionally I think Kondaurova has the edge right now…although Obraztsova will catch her, no doubt.  Emotion is Evgenia’s calling card, after all.  Kondaurova’s is more high theater.

This is what I would like to see in some up-and-coming young dancers — attention to character.  I was watching videos of one particular young dancer last night (I will not give her name nor her company).  She’s being pushed hard by her employers, but is merely doing steps and not really dancing with her soul.  Her head is often wildly out of place; her arms are merely correct at best; her upper body is static.  I don’t know if this is the fault of coaching or if she is just out of her league at present (she is on the young side).  I do know I have seen dancers even younger than she do better in far more complicated roles; Angelina Vorontsova’s Black Swan comes to mind.

Yet some ballerinas get all the way to the top without displaying much in the way of emotion.  Anyway, enjoy the clip and the almost silent-movie quality of the acting.  It’s brilliant.


4 Responses to “She’s Amazing”

  1. atlantic Says:

    I have watched so many versions of this, and I have to admit I’ve never really liked it. The music is so bipolar and sounds like it was taken from some other score. Kondaurova does an excellent job. The ballerina in question does seem to really struggle with it (in clips I have seen). To be fair, I think it is a difficult part and I have seen some very good dancers not ‘get it’. Admittedly, she is lacking in technique and character development. Maybe she would be better suited for Balanchine? Just dance, little story telling. If she graduated from a state school in Russia I am sure she has the technique. She just seems so dang nervous all the time.

  2. Jennifer S Says:

    It takes a ballerina who can be dramatic and who can not only project with her body but also face. I’d seen Nikiyas who bring the emotive face but not connect it with their movements, and vice versa. It seems at Marinsky this role is now assigned to tall ballerinas whereas before it was given to dramatic ballerinas like Komleva who was short.

    Nikiya’s death scene is a fine line between exaggerated acting and believable acting. The ballerina you’d mentioned being pushed is probably the controversial one well known to fans. Her pdd in Midsummer Night’s Dream was fantastic, the music did not have many breaks and it suited her. So maybe it’s that type of Balanchine which suits her, instead of pushing her to grasp dramatic roles like Nikiya.

  3. atlantic Says:

    So it seems she does well in Balanchine? So she can dance, but maybe acting is not her strong suit. I think that is fine. I’m sure many NYCB trained dancers would struggle with this scene, too. I think perhaps it is just a casting issue. I bet she would be great in Rubies or 4Ts.

    I think it takes a very good actress to pull it off well. If I am not mistaken, didn’t Markarova change this scene? I remember seeing a clip that used slower, shorter music for the ‘mania’ part of the dance.

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