Friday, 25 October 2019

REVIEW: Natalia Osipova Pure Dance at Sadler’s Wells


Returning to Sadler’s Wells after a year of international touring, Royal Ballet Principal dancer, Natalia Osipova, handpicked 7 dances from a range of choreographers to showcase for worldwide audiences. Featuring solos and duets from Osipova, American Ballet Theatre’s David Hallberg, Jason Kittelberger and Jonathan Goddard, Pure Dance explores different ways to use the body in classical and contemporary dance celebrating human connection in various forms. 

Pure Dance opens with Antony Tudor’s The Leaves are Fading, partnered by American Ballet Theatre’s David Hallberg. This pas de deux is angelic and leans into the musicality to create a classical representation of drifting into the Winter seasons. Osipova and Hallberg dance beautifully together but it is not the strongest of opening dances.

The second piece, Left Behind by Kittelberger, shows off Osipova’s versatility into contemporary dance. Emotional and symbolic, the heavy door separates the two dancers. Kittelberger’s fluid movements are mesmerising and full of discomfort- crawling onto his head and shoulders- to show the effects of someone’s impact on you and the realisation coming to the surface when they’re gone. 

Iván Pérez’s Flutter is the most experimental of the selection of dances. It sets you into a trance, as they run into the darkness and back out again repeatedly. Nico Mulhy’s abstract composition; a soundscape of female voices chanting digits, builds the obscure atmosphere. Christina Cunnigham’s translucent costume design adds to the obscurity of this quirky piece. Osipova’s leaps and flying lifts are engaging, although the theme is difficult to comprehend at times.

In Absentia, choreographed by Kim Brandstrup and performed by Hallberg, cleverly uses shadows to exaggerate his distance from others and the emptiness of the piece. I found the choreography underwhelming in comparison to the other dances, with many similarities in the movements also.

Roy Assaf’s Six years Later brings two people together after many years apart. We question the relationship they had before as the contrast of playful, loving connections are tarnished by retaliations implying underlying abuse. Assaf’s range of dance and physical theatre movements added a theatrical element that made the narrative more interesting to follow, allowing the audience to imagine the history of the characters.

Osipova’s solo in Yuka Oishi’s Ave Maria is elegant and powerfully feminine. She
captures the bittersweet emotion in every movement. Alexei Ratmansky’s Valse Triste (‘Sad Waltz) closes the show with a new style thrown in the mix. It flows well but, again, is not the strongest way to end the performance.

Pure Dance goes by its name and keeps each performance stripped back, focusing on the talents of the dancers and their ability to interpret the choreography. There are many highlights to the overall production but, due to the experimental nature, it does not surpass expectation from some of the most talented dancers of their generations. Their enthusiasm is influential and their passion for combining classical with contemporary must be credited for modernising the future of ballet, in all of the best ways. 

Review by Hannah Storey

Rating: ★★★★

Seat: First Circle B33 | Price of Ticket: £85
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