Opinion on Dancers


What do you think of Oksana Skorik?

To put it simply, I understand why so many people have a problem with Skorik, but I think that the amount and level of hatred often directed at her is ridiculous and completely unacceptable.

Interestingly enough, I read The New Yorker article about Diana Vishneva the other day, which points out the issue Westerners often have with Russian ballerinas. I think this quote nails Oksana’s main issue:

“No matter how large-scaled her acting, though, she always looked sincere. That’s her deviation from the practice of many Russian ballerinas today. How hard they can be! Over-rehearsed, over-styled, lacquered—bronzed. Some people like that in the Russians. It makes them feel they got their money’s worth. To me, it’s camp. Vishneva manages to be extreme and relaxed simultaneously. She has a good time.”

I doubt whether Oksana ever has good time on stage. Or away from it. On many levels I understand and sympathise with her angst (I wasn’t a particularly happy child myself, and “Beautiful Tragedy” resonated with me), but the one thing I’ve learned in the last few years of following ballet and interviewing some of the VBA students, is that attitude has a tremendous effect on the quality of a dancer’s performance and their overall success.

I understand Fateyev’s and/or Gergiev’s motivation behind promoting her to the status of prima (a move which upset many). The fact that Oksana hasn’t always delivered the goods doesn’t have anything to do with her talent – she’s a gifted ballerina – but rather with whatever loomy gloom she’s swimming in*.

I know that questions like these normally require some sort of analysis of the dancer’s technique, musicality, and so on, but I honestly don’t feel like pointing out Oksana’s faults. There are already plenty of other people who delight in doing that. Instead, I wanted to offer my opinion on the significance of a dancer’s emotional and mental health, and the effect these have on their performance**.

Oksana is having a shit year. Her beloved cat has died very suddenly and now she has (reportedly) suffered a bad injury. People need to send her some good vibes. For a change.

*Award yourself 50 points if you got the “Adventure Time” reference.

**After re-reading my response I realised that I appear to be speaking with a little too much authority on the state of Skorik’s mental and emotional health. Just to clarify: I do not know her personally but, like a great number of people, I have picked up on Oksana’s gloomy vibe. It isn’t my intention to patronise her. I’m writing from a place of solidarity and concern. 

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