Category: serenade

Serenade (Miami City Ballet)


I read the CriticalDance interview with Khoreva from back in November, and thought her response about wanting to dance “everything” and try as many roles as possible a good example of the younger generations’ view (or lack thereof) of emploi. I can understand from an artistic perspective. I wonder how much or little Tsiskaridze inserts his own views of self-imposed emploi at the academy?

“My desire is to try as many things as possible, and when I see any ballet, I want to try to dance it, to prepare a role in it, whatever role it is. I’d love to do The Nutcracker with the Mariinsky in the future. I learned it at Vaganova, and so I already know the steps. Also, I love Giselle; I love La Bayadere, I love Swan Lake, I love Jewels, from Balanchine, especially Diamonds. It’s like I want to do everything, and if I had the chance to do any of them I’d be more than happy.” – Maria Khoreva, CriticalDance interview.

The subject of dancing "everything" also came up in this interview. I’m not sure if the context was the same, but Maria wasn’t talking about emploi or being able to dance or being suited for every role in the repertoire. Rather, she was talking about not having a particular dream role, and being excited by every opportunity she gets at the Mariinsky.

I think it’s fair to say that Tsiskaridze tries to pass on his own views to his students at the Academy, but don’t forget that Khoreva wasn’t his student. She trained under Professor Kovaleva, and I don’t know how much direct contact Tsiskaridze had had with her. I have a feeling it wasn’t a lot.

I get many questions about emploi and the modern generation of dancers’ perception of it. Being an outsider, it’s very hard for me to make a judgement or offer any insight. I think that young dancers joining companies don’t get to chose or influence what roles they get; the management makes that decision for them (effectively choosing the emploi they think fits). Sometimes they make the wrong decision. Or pigeonhole a dancer, limiting their potential. Or overloading a dancer, giving them major roles way to early. 

There are cases where an emploi is obvious early on – for example, Vaganova graduates whole classes of character dancers – but overall, I think the lines are getting blurred and there a clear emploi isn’t really a thing anymore.

Has Maria Khoreva ever danced a corps role?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe she has. I think she jump straight into coryphee / soloist roles. If she had performed any corps roles in her first month with the Mariinsky, I haven’t seen any evidence / footage of those.

Do you think it’s overly sensitive of me to be bothered by that photo that Maria Khoreva posted of her, Xander Parish, and Peter Martins? Something about the way that Martins is holding her just makes me very uncomfortable given the misconduct allegations.

I understand your feelings, given the context, but I don’t think the photo is problematic (unfortunately I can’t find it now, but I know the photo you are referring to). Martins was invited to the Mariinsky to coach the dancers in some Balanchine works. It was a professional engagement. One that yield positive results. History can colour our perception.

How would you compare Eleonora Sevenard and Maria Khoreva? I always thought Maria was more graceful, but Nikolai Tsiskaridze seems to like Eleonora more. He did make Maria the star of the 2018 class, but he hasn’t spoken about her like he speaks about Eleonora.

I wouldn’t. I try to avoid comparing dancers as a general rule, and Khoreva and Sevenard are very different. They came from the same Academy, but they studied under different teachers, and their “styles” (for lack of a better word) of performance are different.

Tsiskaridze definitely favours Eleonora. He has said on numerous occasions that she is one of his favourite students, he has promoted her like hell when she was at the Academy (he did her a massive disservice by doing that, if you ask me) and he continued to champion her career after she had graduated. I don’t know how much contact he’s had with Khoreva during her studies, but I have a feeling it wasn’t much. He certainly never spoke of Masha the same way he does about Eleonora. Not that that is a problem. Khoreva has Professor Kovaleva behind her. She hardly needs any other help.

Khoreva is technically impressive but thus far she has been utterly disappointing artistically. All she does is smile, and much like her Paquita, her Medora was dynamically flat. It’s still very much how a student dances— no dynamic, no emphasis on certain movements and while she listens to the music, she’s not fully using it. It’s all boring and flat, which is not First Soloist at Mariinsky material. Her hands also drive me insane— her wrists are too stiff.

Maria’s lack of emotions / acting skills have been criticised by many people since she’s joined the Mariinsky (and even more so since she’s been promoted to First Soloist). To her credit, I think she is putting a lot of effort into developing this skill and is making improvements, but she will need time. That’s a risk one takes with early promotions… Not being totally ready to carry the full weight of the role. I do think she will improve quickly though, given how completely dedicated she is to her craft.

d i s c l a i m e r

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Serenade (Miami City Ballet, 2018)

Serenade (Mariinsky Ballet)

Serenade (State Ballet of Georgia, 2015)

Serenade (State Ballet of Georgia, 2016)

Czech National Ballet


photo: Dasa Wharton

Laura Hecquet, Vincent Chaillet

Serenade rehearsal

photo: Svetlana Loboff

Laura Hecquet

Serenade rehearsal

photo: Svetlana Loboff

Tyrone Singleton and Elisha Willis in Serenade (Birmingham Royal Ballet, 2015)