An Evening with Natalia Osipova at Sadler’s Wells Digital Stage
Prima ballerina Natalia Osipova introduces this trio of her works, Valse Triste, Qutb, and Ave Maria – presented by Sadler’s Wells on Facebook and YouTube – describing the natural emotion and passion with which she dances: “I dance what I feel.”
The presentation opens with a soulful, exquisite pas de deux with David Hallberg in Valse Triste, exhibiting a poignant love duet in classical style that is pure pleasure. Choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky and performed to a waltz by Sibelius, this affectingly powerful, visually lovely piece evokes the pain and joy of relationships.
Qutb, by Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, is described by Osipova as “a new body language for me” that she very much enjoyed. She had to learn it with the help of her partners Jason Kittelberger and James O’Hara, citing that “for a classical dancer it’s not natural”. However, her challenges with this modern ballet clearly culminate in a seamless performance.
Appearing as a planetary eclipse in outer space to otherworldly motor-like sound, the setting presents the dancers as primeval, surreal survivors, with flowing, undulating, writhing movements. Covered in patches of blood, they appear like creatures being born. Organic, sensual but asexual bodies intertwine, blending with each other, forming sculptures of ecstasy and agony like figures in a Renaissance painting, morphing into every shape human physicality can form in connection, like marionettes possessed, controlled by the music, as if tossed about by it. Combining in multiple configurations – at one stage like an Indian goddess carving – the impression is of symbiotic figures as moving sculptures. At a point, though genderless, asexuality evolves as Osipova’s character performs a passionate, sensitive, romantic duet with Kittelberger, her face intensely emotive throughout.
In a brief vignette that follows, Confessions of a Ballet Star, the ballerina describes her innate shyness, tendency for self-criticism, her need to be in a “great mood” to dance, and her pre-performance self-talk: “think what you want to tell today on stage”.
Osipova says of choreographer Yuka Oishi: “she feeds my soul, like prayer”. As a finale, Oishi’s Ave Maria introduces a hauntingly expressive spotlight on the dancer in a feminine, ethereal solo to the singing of Schubert’s Ave Maria. A gorgeous celebration of the beauty of movement, the work is a graceful, diaphanous visual pleasure.
Immensely enjoyable and enlightening, An Evening with Natalia Osipova: Valse Triste, Qutb, and Ave Maria will be online until May 1st.
Photo: Johan Persson