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Natalia Osipova – Pure Dance at Sadler’s Wells | Review

Natalia Osipova - Pure Dance Valse Triste Dancers Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg - Johan Persson (c)
Natalia Osipova – Pure Dance Valse Triste Dancers Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg – Johan Persson (c)

Natalia Osipova is the artistic director of this show and a principal dancer at The Royal Ballet, London. Pure Dance is a fine programme of seven short pieces varying in tone and form from contemporary dance to classical ballet. Osipova dances in six of the works and the seventh, a solo performed by David Hallberg, a principal guest artist at The Royal Ballet, is atmospheric and performed with provoking sensitivity.

The choreography throughout the show is consistently excellent and the music selection is lovely, often moving. Mother Tongue by Nico Mulhy is a revelation being a thrilling soundscape of female voices.

Natalia Osipova demonstrates her astonishing virtuoso skills as a classical dancer for those who do not know in the fabulous finale, the duet Valse Triste, performed with David Hallberg and choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky.

Osipova is to be admired for taking risks, of not being satisfied with her extraordinary classical talent but wanting to extend her range into contemporary dance. There appears to be a passion in her for this despite the difficulties. In the programme to the show she describes the troubles she had adapting to contemporary dance at first, saying she, ‘was like a stick.’ Unlike some other memorable female ballet dancers who have adapted to contemporary dance, such as the sinuous Sylvie Guillem, Osipova presents a neat traditional ballerina figure which sometimes seems like a virtuoso cage from which she longs to escape to express pure emotion through movement on stage. She succeeds in doing this when she has contemporary work that fits this paradigm based on the evidence of this show. It’s when contemporary work describes less emotion she can sometimes pop back into her very neat and dexterous cage.

Osipova beautifully escapes restraint in the contemporary duet, Left Behind, performed with choreographer Jason Kittelberger to Rachmaninov Elegie Op3 No1. What’s described in this terrific dance work is the invisible but immense inner turmoil of two people who meet and connect and the emotional resonance that continues after physical proximity has ended before starting again. A great short dance piece is like a poem and this achieves that status.

As does Six Years Later, another contemporary work in which Osipova succeeds, partnered with a pleasing modern edge by Jason Kittelburger. They complement each other beautifully. Choreographed by Roy Assaf this is a duet performed first of all to the Moonlight Sonata before Reflections of my life by Marmalade changes the tone making you take stock of your assumptions about what you are seeing. The work ends with a sense of yearning and pain with the great aria Dove Sei, amato bene? by Handel. As a reflection on grief it is very moving if you choose to see it that way.

There’s great dance and choreography in this show. If one or two of the pieces fall into pure loveliness they’re short and there’s more than enough here to sustain the eye, the ear and the soul.

This is a show to see.

4 stars

Review b y Marian Kennedy

A ballet superstar. Seven virtuosic dances.
Famed for her explosive technique, dramatic intensity and artistic nuance, Natalia Osipova makes a welcome return to Sadler’s Wells.

A showcase of seven dance pieces handpicked by the The Royal Ballet principal, Pure Dance includes classical masterpieces, The Leaves are Fading by Antony Tudor and new commission Valse Triste, “a ravishing six-minute ballet” by Alexei Ratmansky (New York Times).

The programme also features Roy Assaf’s newly extended Six Years Later, and four specially commissioned contemporary works by Ivan Perez, Yuka Oishi, Kim Brandstrup and Jason Kittelberger.

With solos and duets featuring dancers Jason Kittelberger and Jonathan Goddard, Pure Dance also stages the highly anticipated, electric partnership between Osipova and American Ballet Theatre principal David Hallberg.

Natalia Osipova – Pure Dance
22 – 26 October 2019
Sadler’s Wells
Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R


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