January 2012
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Month January 2012

Natalia Makarova in contrast with Alina Somova.

Makarova is a fully mature artist of great beauty and lasting inspiration. In my last blog, I gave you Alina Somova, a very young artist. It is not how high your extension is that is important, but rather, where the most aesthetic choice of how to place your leg can be achieved. It is like a great painter who knows where to put his mark. It is not about how many turns, but rather whether your turns maintain the character you are portraying. The Maryinsky was noble for its control in these dimensions; the whole was never sacrificed to the part.

Here is Makarova in ‘Swan Lake’:

And last, Makarova with Dowell:

Oh, that the Royal Ballet could return to this standard.

Alina Somova, Controversial principal of the Mariinsky Ballet.

In a comment on Google entitled, ‘Alina Somova- Dancer or Circus Pony’ she was essentially critised for being too acrobatic.  I find her beautiful with her long limbs, extended feet, high extension and musicality. She began by being smaller than some of the other students at the Academy. Like all young artists, there is a period when they wish to show off technical virtuosity.  Cornejo is also like that. It takes time to develop a deep artistry in a role. I remember a piano competition in Washington where each competitor played more and more difficult music. The judges were looking for artistic interpretation.  One famous male dancer said that when he was young, he used to dance like a fly caught in a paper bag.

Let me quote from the end of the article ‘Dancer or Circus Pony’:

‘Yuri Fateev [director of the Mariinsky] (not a man known for flash), insists that young Somova is special. Much the same used to be said about Sylvie Guillem. Fateev tells me he has full confidence: “You’ll see Alina’s potential in London.” Maybe. Last year I thought Somova 40 per cent intriguing and 60 per cent circus pony. This year as the Princess in Alexei Ratmansky’s new The Little Humpbacked Horse for the Mariinsky, she was a delight, as dewy as a milkmaid. After the show, ballet’s grande dame Maya Plisetskaya plucked her diamond earrings off her ears, handed them to the awestruck girl and told her to go grab herself a brilliant career.’

Alina Somova was born in St. Petersburg. She graduated from the Vagonova Academy of Russian Ballet in 2003 when she joined the Maryinsky Ballet ( at about age 17).

We open with Alina in the third year of a seven year course. She must be 12 or 13 here. She is the smallest student in the class with lovely feet and turnout. Your eye is drawn to her because she is very musical.

May I introduce her, if you do not know her, in this Tchaikovsky pas de deux (above).

Her fouettes are beautiful. When she takes her leg from devant to second, she actually lifts in the whip:

Le Spectre de la Rose

Spectre was premiered by Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes on April 19, 1911 at the Theatre de Monte Carlo. The original roles were danced by Nijinsky and Karsavina (Do Read ‘Theatre Street’ by Karsavina).The choreographer was Michel Fokine to music “Invitation to the Dance’ by Carl Maria von Weber. The costumes were designed by Leon Bakst. It is a virtuoso piece for a male dancer. Of course, Nijinsky must have been stunning. Below, I will start by showing Nureyev and Barishnikov dancing the roles. I do not believe these are the best performances. Then I shall give you other performances that I consider excellent and explain why.

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In Spectre featuring Dmitri Gudanov and Anatassia Goryacheva, Gudanov is very light on his feet and graceful, almost feminine, with a precision in his movements. Note the turn ,as the different male dancers will use different choreography here, some starting with arabesque en tournant, some with attitude en tournant, etc. Anastassia is particulary expressive and beautiful in what is a secondary role.

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Ananiashvilli and Ruzimatov: Ananiashvilli creates a beautiful little cameo that almost stills the show. Ruzimatov is technically excellent, but less like a spirit because he seems a taller man and his movements are more vigorous.

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Mathias Heymann  and Isabelle Ciaravola from the Opera Gambier dance with a sensitivity toward and re-creation of the mannerisms and style of the Diaghilev performance. Heymann is a smaller and more airborn dancer. Ciaravola is beautiful. I did not know either of these dancers.

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Herman Cornejo is 5 feet 6″ tall and beautifully built for this role. I loved what I imagined to be the Nijinsky-esque mannerisms which may have been part of the original Fokine choreography and which can be gleaned from photogrlaphs of Nijinsky in this role. His technique and height of jumps is outstanding. Alas, I thought less of Reyes’ performance here and felt that she wasn’t so sensitive to the stylisation. The performances weren’t in harmony with each other.

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Igor Kolb is a principle dancer in the Mariinsky Ballet. He is tall and long which gives a less Nijinsky look to the choreography, but he is elegant and accomplished. Zhana Auipova is charming and beautiful, and they work well together. Igor Kolb is appearing at the Sadler’s Wells in London in an all male programme at the end of January.