Performed with the secure partnering of former Rambert dancer Jonathan Goddard, it gets off to a slow start with unstructured choreography, as the pair run from the darkness at the back of the stage into the light at the front. Initially they are joyful and leap gleefully; but later we see ripples of tension as Nigel Edwards lighting switches from soft glow to a starker and exposing white. Although it’s a struggle to see the promised 'journey of discovery' from the programme notes, Osipova’s beautifully fluid, light movements are still a triumph, especially in the sequences of aerial choreography which seek to evoke a sense of flight.
Aside from this Act One is a little sparse. Antony Tudor’sThe Leaves are Fading is a sweet opener, but lacks impact. It gives many in the audience their first glimpse of Osipova with her preferred partner, ABT’s David Hallberg. The two share a delicate chemistry and demonstrate a well established partnership, but at just seven minutes, the segment leaves you wanting more.
Act Two is similarly uneven. It opens with Israeli choreographer Roy Assaf’s Six Years Later. It’s a moving, emotionally intricate and intimate piece that tracks the journey of a long term romantic relationship with Osipova this time partnered by Jason Kittelberger. However, the story is told too haphazardly: a few lighter moments are dotted here and there, but it's essentially a power struggle, a suffocating, difficult watch. There is less dance, more physical theatre, and the audience don’t seem to know how to respond.
Thank goodness, then, that the final two components to the evening sit firmly in the classical genre. Alexei Ratmansky’s Valse Triste, on music by Sibelius, is a wonderful, melancholic piece that sees her reunited with Hallberg. It’s the only piece where Osipova hits her stride with wonderful weightless jetès in her billowing powder blue dress, and repeated running jumps into Hallberg’s arms. Finally there’s some momentum and the audience respond accordingly.
Similarly, it is hard not to be swept up in the simple beauty of Yuka Oishi’s Ave Maria, choreographed on the popular Schubert setting of the prayer. It's a dance of strength, love and sensibility, with soft delicate choreography that utilises Osipova’s innate femininity, and which she dances with great sincerity.
In a mixed evening when the highlights do come, they are enjoyable, but all too brief. Osipova is seeking to prove her versatility as a dancer who can switch from classical to contemporary with equal flair, but on this showing it’s only the classical offerings that remind one what a special dancer she is, as much as she endeavours to prove otherwise.
|What||Review: Natalia Osipova, Pure Dance|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
12 Sep 18 – 16 Sep 18, 19:30 Sat mat 14:30, Sun 16:00 Dur.: 1 hour 55 mins inc one interval and pauses between works
|Website||Click here to book via Sadler's Wells website|