The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

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A promotion May 12, 2013

Filed under: ballerina — theworstat @ 4:43 am

Keenan Kampa has been promoted to Coryphee at the Maryinsky, and word has it that another promotion — that of Oxana Skorik to Principal — is to follow shortly.

I watched some videos of Kampa in her graduation performance (from Vaganova).  It’s clear that she had something in those days that she lost before she entered the Maryinsky.  The clips I’ve seen of her first performance as Kitri pointed out all her present troubles at their worst: looking down, not smiling, not emoting, not using her upper torso or her arms at all.  The second performance was much better, but still not quite where it should be.  She is, after all, just a coryphee.  There is lots of growing ahead.  Let’s hope that she relaxes and assimilates, and regains what she lost.  At least we know it is there somewhere.

As for Oxana, our friend RBV just posted a video clip of her debut as Kitri…which was, of course, awful or else he wouldn’t have posted it.  Her debut as Carmen was similarly empty of substance.  It’s not so much glaring technical errors anymore as it is this feeling that she’s just not there with the work.  I’m starting to wonder if she is merely unhappy dancing in Russia.  She gave some bad performances while in the U.S., but others, I’m told, were magnificent.

Both girls need to learn to act, but many ballerinas start out with that problem.  I think these days it’s better to start out with the technical foundation and then learn to act, than to do what they used to do in the old days: emote like crazy and, in certain cases, never learn much technique at all (Anna Pavlova comes to mind).

Kampa is ahead of the game in that regard.  She has had some stumbles onstage (everyone does), but that’s no big deal.  The problems with her upper torso being static and her arms being rather stiff are what need to be addressed, and quickly.  But none of this indicates that she never learned the basics.  She can do the tricks.  Now she needs to show her soul a bit.  That, I believe, will free her upper body.

With Skorik, I sometimes have the feeling that her training was inadequate, so she was already behind the ball on that account.  She’s gotten better, but the emotional emptiness I’ve seen too much of in clips of her dancing may be harder to overcome.  Only time will tell.  But she may have to do it as a principal ballerina,which is going to make it all that much harder.


9 Responses to “A promotion”

  1. atlantic Says:

    “Ballet, Sweat, and Tears”

    Very interesting short documentary on the Mariinsky, and it focuses some on Skorik (with some classy comments from RBV). One thing that she states (and what I have suspected) is that if you are offered a role and turn it down (even for injury) you will not be offered it again. So if this is true, it explains a lot. First, she may not even want these roles but she obviously cannot refuse them or risk losing performance time. Second, many of the iffy performances are probably due to her injuries.

    Bad performances are not really acceptable at a theater like the Mariinsky. She needs to improve. She really does not deserve to be a principal. But I think this is really a management problem first.

    Oksana shows her ‘apartment’ in the video, which really looks like a glorified dorm room that hasn’t been renovated since 1960. I am shocked that a first soloist would be paid so little. Is this pretty standard?

    Adult Oksana does not seem changed from teenager Oksana. Hopefully she can improve her dancing. They will probably keep promoting her whether she is ready of not.

  2. theworstat Says:

    Yes, it is pretty standard that even first soloists in Russia are paid very, very poorly. The kids in the corps, from what I hear, crowd together, maybe 10 to an apartment, so it’s even worse for them. The only ones paid well are the principals.

    I continue to wonder why she’s being pushed at such an insane pace.

    • theworstat Says:

      I just watched that documentary. It’s fascinating. Thanks for the link!

  3. Cat Says:

    Very interesting documentary! Some other new videos of Skorik have been put on youtube, the recent Kitri amongst others, as well as Stepanova performing the Bridesmaid variation. While Stepanova is a beautiful dancer and has a lovely stage-presence, I’m not sure I agree with the intense favoritism. On the other hand, the hostility and bullying towards Skorik is getting out of hand, with some people going as far as saying that her teacher in Perm should have smothered her with a pillow at night. I do not think Skorik should be a first soloist, let alone a principal, but she’s improved and I found the grand pas classique very nice! She too, is a lovely dancer but especially in the recent videos she seems rather unhappy to be on stage, as well as looking weaker again. It’s no wonder, with the kind of bullying and harsh criticism (which should be aimed at management rather than at the dancer) I don’t doubt that she’s aware of what’s being said.

    • atlantic Says:

      I agree about the criticism. It is getting out of control. Sure, Stepanova is a lovely dancer, but I am sure there are about 50 other girls in the corps that could do what she does too, maybe even better.So what makes her more special or more deserving than those girls? There is always someone better. Why did the current principals get on top? Part to good dancing, but I am sure there was some maneuvering going on. Either by themselves or by their coaches that want their dancers to succeed.

      No one should be advocating that anyone should be killed over dancing. This is getting disgusting. These people need a little perspective on life.

      I have seen good clips of her dancing. Yes she is probably over promoted, but clearly it is a management problem. Given her apparent personality, something tells me she isn’t busting into Fateyev’s office demanding roles.

      • Moe Says:

        The reason why they favor Stepanova so much is because of her exceptional beauty and,

        particularly for the men, the sexiness of her, body, look and carriage. Not really because of her

        dancing (they are all beautiful dancers). If you mention this to these men they get very

        angry, defensive, and deny it vehemently, which, as we all know, is proof in itself.

  4. atlantic Says:

    I just watched several clips of her Kitri debut (rafzak61 has posted them on youtube) and I have to admit they are pretty bad. But again, something tells me she isn’t demanding these roles. She seems pretty damn unhappy in the video. Seems like her boyfriend Askerov (who has dubious skills as well) is part of the machine pushing her. Poor girl. I can’t help but keep wishing she will suddenly triumph, selfishly for my own peace of mind.

    If she has given good shows, it means she has it in her. But her kitri clips, especially in the coda fouettes, she looks exhausted and miserable.

  5. Jennifer S. Says:

    The thing with Skorik is that she has been promoted due to her physique, nothing else. Technique aside, and she’s made strides in her technique, like you guys say there is no “there” there. She projects nothingness, an empty offering of poses and incredible physique and nothing else. It would not be as jarring if she is not so promoted, I am sure nobody would object is she dances a pretty variation from time to time, or even dance in secondary roles like Lilac Fairy. I am of the opinion that Skorik will eventually burn out, either emotionally or physically. That she is still having issues with stamina, as evidenced by those Kitri clips, says a lot about her physical and emotional capabilities as a lead ballerina. That said, I do believe the bullying and wishing of death upon Skorik is beyond awful. The fact that very few challenge or call those bullies out, says a lot about ballet fandom and reflects badly on fans.

    Actually the whole season at the Marinsky has been strange. It’s almost as though whoever is casting, casts ballerinas who have very weak technique, pointe work especially, that choryphee level at best dancer like Shirinkina are allowed to dance technically and stylistically challenging Aurora, even though videos show time and again mistakes and weak legs galore . Then there’s that recent La Sylphide debut by a much touted new grad Arina Varentseva, that was just so bad it was good. Even the so-called better ballerinas in making favored by vocal few such as rbv, Stepanova and Marchuk, don’t exactly light the stage on fire judging from yt videos. Almost every video of Stepanova or Marchuk feature small mistakes, sloppiness, or weak pointes.

  6. enrico ratti Says:

    l am the peson that told that madame sakharova would have been better to kill skorik in dormitory of perm school ,and obviously was joking ,but skorik is really an awful dancer and her precsence in mariinsky is disgraceful

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