The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

Just another site about the love of ballet

Trigger warning August 31, 2016

Filed under: ballet — theworstat @ 12:17 am
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At least, it’s a trigger for me to see a dancer placed in a cage and have it passed off as ballet:

The Joffrey

Thankfully the horrible moment is not long and I got through it.  I just hate to see horse pucky celebrated as ballet, though, and had to remark on it.

On a much more satisfying note, the Joffrey will be performing their modern-day Romeo and Juliet this upcoming season.  Now, that is interesting.

To be absolutely fair, this video shows that the Joffrey is not all about placing dancers in cages or other contraptions, and calling it art.  Nor is modernism about that (or if it is, I am going to shout “horse pucky!” every time I see it), and the Joffrey generally makes a good case for modern ballet.

They’re getting better at the classical stuff, too, which makes them all the more exciting.


Rethinking Dmitrichenko August 29, 2016

Released from prison

I admit that I’m shaky on the history of the Dmitrichenko/Vorontsova/Tsiskaridze/Filin thing.  I’m even more confused after reading the above-captioned article, in which Dmitrichenko more or less denies anything happened.

At the time of the acid-throwing incident, I was having trouble reconciling the repeated statement that Vorontsova was Dmitrichenko’s common-law wife.  She was, after all, just 21.  In the U.S., in states where common-law marriage is recognized. it takes seven years to establish a such a union.  Of course, this is Russia we’re dealing with here, but…

Again I think of Joy Womack, and the endless controversy surrounding her time at the Bolshoi.  Will we ever get to the bottom of it?  Probably not.  (However, I was struck by the similarity of Womack’s situation to that of another Bolshoi outcast — Vorontsova.)  Again, this is Russia we’re dealing with here.  Lies are huge, and become the truth.  The problem is that there are so many of them that they seem to cancel each other.  In the end, we are left with nothing.

At the time of the incident, I remember being shocked by the callousness of Tsiskaridze claiming that Filin either wasn’t really injured, or was faking the extent of his injuries — I forget which.  But knowing the murky depths of Russian interpersonal politics…well, it’s impossible to arrive at a plausible truth that works for all the players.  Even now, there’s an oft-repeated rumor that Filin has been seen driving a car.  And he continues to work in ballet.  That requires sight.  Yet no less than the uber-honest Obraztsova says that yes, Filin’s injuries were and are real.

All that said — that is, the complete truth will never be known — I will focus on Dmitrichenko’s dancing (about which I know little except for a few videos), and his career.

There’s no doubt, based on the little I’ve seen, that Dmitrichenko has star power.  He seems to be the ultimate drama king, riveting to watch.  He definitely could have a career as a character dancer that would last decades.

The question of his career is the huge one, and it all hinges on whether or not the story of the acid attack and his involvement in it is even a bit true — and the extent of Filin’s support base within the Russian ballet community.

Dmitrichenko wants to get back into the Bolshoi.  Filin is still working there (with students now, apparently, and not directly with the main company).  Doubtless there are dozens or even hundreds at the Bolshoi who can’t stand each other, yet continue to work together…but attacking someone physically is another matter entirely.  The current director, or whatever his title is, says that Dmitrichenko can audition just like anyone else.  The question after that is how much influence Filin still has, and how much danger he would actually be in.  (My guess is not much — even if Dmitricheko got back into the Bolshoi, why would he repeat such an attack on someone who no longer wields much power within the main company — but what do I know?)

Could Dmitrichenko go elsewhere?  Who knows.  Womack did, and so did Vorontsova, (and both have done well in their new environments), which proves that there are those in the Russian ballet world who are willing to thumb their noses at the Bolshoi.  Of course, in Russia there are lots of other companies, and no doubt lots of strong souls like the director of Womack’s company.  But there are not many companies where Dmitrichenko’s considerable star power wouldn’t be wasted on a vastly reduced audience.

This is a situation I’ll be watching with interest.  Its outcome will give me a glimpse into the murky depths (and that’s what they are) of Russia’s ballet soul.








Those who have disappeared…and pay issues August 4, 2016

Filed under: ballerina,ballet — theworstat @ 2:02 am
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In the case of Evgenia Obraztsova, the news is entirely happy (and I kinda suspected it by the vague way she answered a fan’s question on her website; later one of my correspondents here confirmed it): she’s expecting.  That’s why she has disappeared from the stage.

In the case of Keenan Kampa, the beautiful soloist/coryphee at the Maryinsky, the news is less happy: Keenan Kampa on High Strung.  I had no idea that she’d been having heart problems in addition to the problems with her hip.

It’s a shame; the world has lost a potentially fine prima ballerina.  When she began with the Maryinsky, I didn’t see it, but toward the end of her tenure, I did.

With her beauty and presence I’m sure she has much to contribute in Hollywood.  And she’s still young enough to have a long career there.

Ballet is such an iffy thing.  In decades past, Evgenia, who has hung on through thick and thin (mostly thin during her years at the Maryinsky), would be facing the end of her career due to her pregnancy.  Nowadays, however, all kinds of dancers have all kinds of kids.  Everything seems to be working in Evgenia’s favor…finally.  She waited long enough.

But one never knows when an illness or injury will strike, as in the case of Kampa. Imagine training day in and day out for a decade or more, and then that happens.

Keeping that in mind, off I go to the next subject.

The excuse for paying some professional athletes so much is that they contribute to the bottom line and their careers are short.  I wonder why the same is not true, in terms of pay, for dancers.

A lot of it may have to do with the fact that dance tends to be a female sport, and women are notoriously underpaid.  Also, in the history of ballet, even the more famous ballerinas tended to also be mistresses of wealthy men, and so forth.  But this is a history that no longer applies today.

Another problem may be that ballet is expensive, and most companies not on a government payroll are operating on a shoestring, (nothing so substantial as a pointe shoe ribbon).

But even then, the pay in Russia is said to be so bad that soloists are living in groups in one-bedroom apartments.  And no one in the U.S. is getting rich by dancing, either, unless they’re Misty Copeland or someone else who has a side business.

It’s interesting.  Ballet companies are, after all, businesses, just as professional sports teams are.  So how is it that one can afford the megabucks salaries and the other cannot?  Would appreciate thoughts on this.

P.S. if you are commenting on this article, please refer to Kampa as KK.  A long while back I was getting trolled by someone who claimed to be her sister, and as a result everyone who used Keenan’s name in a comment got blacklisted.  This is why I remain so sensitive about trolls, troublemakers, and general idiots: in the end, everybody suffers for their selfishness.




And so, Joy… August 2, 2016

Filed under: ballerina,ballet,Varna — theworstat @ 5:33 am

First of all, congratulations on your silver medal at Varna.  This is no small achievement and should alleviate much of your nagging self-doubt.  Certainly it should silence some of your nay-sayers, although many people don’t swallow their own bile easily.

You are very young, a prima ballerina in Moscow, and you’ve won this prestigious medal. And you did it all on your own.  That is something no one can take away from you.

I’ve heard lots of criticisms about all the product peddling, etc.  But we are in a new era. Witness ABT’s Misty Copeland, for one, and there’s someone among the numerous NYCB principals who is also selling something, I forget what.  Some Russian principals were selling dance clothing for a while, I believe, and the great Darcy Bussell was as much a pop star as a ballerina in her day.  It’s happening all over.

The age of the sheltered, yet impoverished ballerina, dependent on a wealthy sugar daddy, is going fast if not already long gone.  Remember Anna Pavolova…she was the one who started the ball rolling.  She began her career at the Maryinsky under at least as much of a cloud as you at the Bolshoi.  Granted she made it to principal quickly, but she was never much ahead of intense criticism (looking at films of her, it’s apparent that her technique was wonky).

When she split away from the Maryinsky, however, was when the product selling began. She didn’t sell stuff, but she sold herself.  The end product is that to this day, her name and “ballerina” are synonymous. Many non-ballet fans have heard of no other ballerina.

And so, you are on your way.  Your life is a dream for so many dancers.  Strive to appreciate this even on your worst days.

Play nicely.  I know there have been nasty incidents of backstage violence, but it is up to you to rise above it.  No scenes!

Play nicely, part 2: refrain from criticizing the work ethic of your colleagues, or placing blame when something goes wrong.  Be the gracious one.

Stop making promises you can’t keep.  We understand when you can’t publish a video every day (and no, I am not one of those who is all upset because you chronicle your career by vlogging).  Just don’t keep saying you will.

Remember that you will never be able to resolve the wildly conflicting stories the Russians tell about your days at the Bolshoi’s academy, let alone your days in the Bolshoi.  It’s no matter; they probably can’t either. That’s the way Russians are…even pretend Russians (a certain would-be choreographer comes to mind).

There seem to be at least a thousand stories about how you got into the Bolshoi.  But the business of your leaving the Bolshoi as you did is not a controversy. The only thing I question is whether you should have gone public with the charges if you weren’t going to pursue them in legal avenues.  It seemed a good time to trot out the “irreconcilable differences” excuse and just let it be, and let the stories swirl like the snowflakes in Russia.  Sometimes discretion is better part of valor, as the old saying goes.  And you have much in the way of valor.

Accept that you are young.  Always you have seemed to try to appear to be more than you were; that continued until recently.  Remember that tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow will come.  Improvements will grow over time.  There is no need to exaggerate, especially not now.

Develop a close relationship with your truth and stand by it.  Because the truth, in your case, is pretty damned good.












My “dear Joy” letter August 1, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 9:08 pm

Coming tonight, probably, I will publish an open letter to Joy Womack.  Stay tuned.