The Born-Again Balletomane's Blog

Just another site about the love of ballet

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.




A little detour January 18, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 7:37 am
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I’m having to do almost an archaeological dig to get any information about the old ABT school, so in the meantime, enjoy this video of Evgenia Obraztsova rehearsing the role of Nikia in La Bayadere. Apparently she debuts in the role later this month.


Treats, treats, and more treats June 7, 2012

Filed under: ballerina,ballet — theworstat @ 5:09 am
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As of today I have a new addition to my list of favorite ballerinas: Olga Smirnova.  I had heard of her before, as she had graduated from the Vaganova school and gone straight into the Bolshoi as a Soloist.  Now she is First Soloist with the Bolshoi, and I jumped at the chance to watch a video of her dancing the Lilac Fairy with Evgenia Obraztsova as Princess Aurora.  For those of us who are already Evgenia fans, and those eager to see Smirnova, watch this:

Sleeping Beauty

Want to see more of Smirnova?  I do.  Her filigree arms knock me out, as do her presence and poise, which are incredible for someone only 20 or 21 years old and one year out of the ballet academy.  Definitely “to the manor born,” this one; possibly a major star in the making (although in ballet, predictions like that can be risky):

La Bayadere

And finally, the last act of Obraztsova’s first Swan Lake:

Swan Lake

Actually the entire ballet is on YouTube right now.  I can’t wait to see Obraztsova explore this dual role further.  One gets the feeling that while she shows a great grasp of it here, she still has much more to do and say as Odette/Odile.


Obraztsova’s Stats March 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 6:20 pm
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Okay, folks, I’m on my way to an appointment but in the 5 minutes I have left to write, I have to say this: I keep seeing things like “Obraztsova married,” and “Obraztsova’s height and weight” on my stats page.  These are things people entered into search engines, and somehow they found this site as a result.

Although I am a fan of this ballerina, I don’t know any of that stuff.  I did once publish a guess — made by someone else — that she is around 5′ tall.

What I do know about her is that she achieves perfection regularly, is one of the best actresses on the ballet stage today, and is on her way to becoming a truly great ballerina for the ages.

The other stuff is trivia to me :-).


Crossing Over February 3, 2012

In my personal life I have no one with whom I can share my sheer joy at hearing of Evgenia Obraztsova’s move to the Bolshoi, and the fact that she was hired as a principal there.  So I’ll babble and blubber here.

I’ve never been a professional dancer, but I can sympathize a bit with what she must have gone through at the Maryinsky.  I’ve had many jobs where I  was given massive responsibilities, worked hard, did well, but was not appreciated.  In fact, I have a job like that right now.

Often, all you can do is leave. Somehow I doubted Obraztsova would do that.  She seems, heart and soul, part of the Maryinsky.  Born in St. Petersburg, nurtured at the Vaganova Academy, she grew into a pure Maryinsky ballerina.  She just has that identity stamped all over her every move.

The frustration of never getting that final promotion must have been intense, and frankly I never could figure out how she could stand it.  I did understand totally when she seemed to be guesting more and more with other companies; after all, Vishneva has carved her career out in a similar fashion.  But Vishneva got her big promotion, and somehow Obraztsova was always left behind.  And then Somova came along and blew past her –even with all the questions about Alina’s acting ability, hyperextension, technique, and so forth.  Obraztsova never had any of those problems.  But still, she languished at First Soloist.  The Maryinsky refused to notice even when she made her debut as Odette/Odile elsewhere.

The only plausible explanation I ever heard for this was that Evgenia is tiny, and the Maryinsky currently strongly favors tall ballerinas.  But still, that seems rather stupid to me.  It apparently seems rather stupid to the Bolshoi, too.

I have already read on some ballet-discussion boards questions about whether Obraztsova will fit in at the Bolshoi; after all, she is such a pure Maryinsky-style ballerina.  But I think she’ll do just fine.  She managed to adjust quickly to the Royal Ballet’s style, and even Balanchine ballets haven’t seemed to cause problems for her.  She isn’t set in stone.  She can do anything she puts her mind to.  I think the Bolshoi’s management can already see that.

And it’s not as if other Maryinsky ballerinas haven’t crossed over to the Bolshoi in the past.  Some big names have, among them Svetlana Zakharova.

So that’s it.  Nothing much to say here except that I’m glad all is said and done, and Evgenia finally has what has been due to her for a long time.  May she enjoy it for many years to come.


Obraztsova Gossip January 23, 2012

Filed under: ballerina — theworstat @ 6:31 pm
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I see from my stats that yesterday someone landed on this blog while searching for “Russian tv promotion to principal obraztsova.”

Sorry, folks, this blog is a bad place to look for news like that.  I have no source for gossip, and even if a long-overdue promotion does not count as gossip, I still don’t have the information.  Further, let’s keep in mind that we are dealing with Russians here, and they put many layers on the truth. Go ahead and scream “racism” or whatever; I’m half Russian and I know better :-).

I did look at the Maryinsky’s website and saw that nothing has changed: she is still listed as First Soloist.  However, I also don’t know how up to date this website is, as Oxana Skorik is just now listed as a Second Soloist after having danced Odette/Odile a couple of times (she was previously listed as a Coryphee).  I know promotions at the Maryinsky are far from quick, but the apparent delay in reporting this one was almost ridiculous.

There was for a time someone posting lengthy, impassioned YouTube videos about Maryinsky gossip, but this person has been silent for months now. This individual did state at one point last year something to the effect that “Obraztsova is about to leave the Maryinsky.”  But she’s still there as far as I know.  Just not very much, it seems.

I know that Obraztsova has recently been doing guest stints with the Bolshoi, and the Maryinsky’s website is entirely ignoring that thus far.  They did mention her guesting with other companies (notably “Since 2010 she has been a guest soloist of the ballet company of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theatre in Moscow”) but are ignoring the fact that she danced Odette/Odile during those guest stints.  I guess that would be sort of inconvenient for them to admit, as the lead in Swan Lake is the one prima-ballerina role denied her at home — thus denying her that big promotion.  Odd as it may seem to us, in Russia, Swan Lake makes (or breaks) ballerinas.

It would be, to say the least, very amusing if the Bolshoi cast her as Odette/Odile.

And so, as far as I know, Obraztsova remains a First Soloist with her home company, even though she has long been a prima in the eyes of the rest of the world. There are some things you just can’t explain.

P.S. January 30 update: Obraztsova’s website is down.  The translation of the message screen is that the site has been blocked, and the owner of the site should contact the host to find out why.

P.P.S. As you can see in the comments, Parlonsballet has informed us that Evgenia Obraztsova is now a principal with the Bolshoi!