“To mix classical and modern is my wish,” says Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova

“To mix classical and modern is my wish,” says Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova

Robert Tanitch Mature Times theatre reviewerRobert Tanitch reviews Natalia Osipova at Sadler’s Wells, London EC1

Natalia Osipova, a classical ballerina and international star, 29-years-old, is at the top of her profession. It is natural she would want to do something different and extend her range.

This particular programme, the first ever to be commissioned by her, is a triple bill and includes works by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant and Arthur Pita.


Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin

“This project is important for me,” says Osipova. It is my dream. This is how I want to express my personality. To mix classical and modern is my wish.”

Cherkaoui’s Qutb (Arabic for axis or pivot) has three dancers incarnating victims of a natural disaster. They could also be celestial bodies, orbiting around each other, or planets or even mythical entities.

Osipova is joined by Jason Kittelberger and James O’Hara. They tumble and constantly fall, only immediately to rise. They collide, interact and intertwine. They are at their most interesting when they are intertwining. Kittleberger often has to lift carry the other two at the same time; it must be backbreaking.

The other two works are showcases for Osipov and her partner in real life, Sergei Polunin (who famously walked out of the Royal Ballet in 2012).

I only wish the works had been better.

Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin

Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin

Maliphant said he wanted in Silent Echo, “to create something that would be related in form to a classical pas de deux – when a first duet is presented, followed by a solo, solo, and then a final duet.” It’s not very interesting.

Pita’s Run Mary Run, a dark comedic duet, is worse. Pita says it “is a bit of a road movie, a doomed love tale, an obsessive possessive relationship with some sex, drugs and rock n roll.” It’s neither dramatic nor funny.

The piece is meant to show off their acting skills. Osipova and Polunin do things that they might do for their own private amusement in the rehearsal room or in the home.

This programme will play at Edinburgh in August; it will be back at Sadler’s Wells in September and October and in New York in November.