Thursday, 1 November 2012

Osipova and Balletic Brilliance

As a frequent theatre-goer and dance enthusiast, I see performances several times a week. I also have an MA in Ballet Studies and often write reviews and articles about dance, so I guess I’m somewhat of an expert. But I have often wished I could just be ignorant and enjoy the prettiness or prowess of a show without questioning.
I have seen so many different dancers, companies and works that it is seldom now that something seems truly new or exciting. But on the rare occasion that it is, I know that my dance knowledge enables me to appreciate it on a much deeper level than most people can. And it is these really moving and thrilling experiences that make me eager to return to the theatre each time.

Natalia Osipova and Carlos Acosta in Swan Lake
Photo: Alice Pennefather, courtesy of ROH
This long introduction leads me to describe a recent performance that was so exquisitely beautiful it simply cannot go unmentioned. It was Natalia Osipova in the Royal Ballet’s Swan Lake (on 25th October) and I confess I shed a tear during the Act II pas de deux. Osipova’s Odette was heartfelt and vulnerable with every step imbued with meaning. Instead of a ballerina executing technical movements, the choreography became evocative and powerful as a woman, trapped in the body of a swan, desperately and unsuccessfully tried to escape her fate.
Osipova has a number of features which make her White Swan so beautiful and emotionally intense. She has a waif-like figure with long arms and legs and seems able to balance endlessly. I have never really connected with the characters of Swan Lake before, but these ethereal qualities added to Osipova’s portrayal of Odette as helpless and trapped and made the ballet all the more moving and human.
It is always tricky to describe movement in words and I am far from doing justice to Osipova’s interpretation here. But this was certainly a performance that made me glad I can fully appreciate brilliance when I see it.

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