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.