Performing Arts: Dance
April 5, 2019
Eagle high jumps and effortless technique joined to a trés jolie stage presence positioned the Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova front and center on the international stage. Before her first appearance in NYC with American Ballet Theater, balletomanes witnessed her prowess in live broadcasts from the Bolshoi—particularly her starring role in “Coppelia”. Now, Osipova, in the full bloom of her career, is guesting with many companies and touring in her own vehicles. Developed by Osipova, Pure Dancewas produced by Sadler’s Wells and arrived in NYC at the invitation of City Center. A mix of classic ballets and modern choreography dotted the evening’s varied program that showcased another international star David Hallberg along with Jonathan Goddard, and Jason Kittelberger.

In the opening piece, Antony Tudor’s wistful duet from The Leaves Are Fading joined Hallberg and Osipova in a tender realization of a time gone by. Seamlessly intertwining their bodies in circular embraces, the couple recalled moments of joy and levity followed by darker horizons. At ease in the perky hops and twists, Osipova’s youthful buoyancy latched onto Hallberg’s expansive attentiveness. This promise melted into a poignant reprieve that exposed Tudor’s delicate, yet detailed portraits of people’s innermost feelings. Tudor’s structures are intricate, musical constructions built on a movement’s intent, control and seamless release.

Two premieres followed Tudor’s masterwork: Flutter by Ivan Perez for Osipova and Goddard then the solo In Absentia by Kim Brandstrup for Hallberg.

A dramatic composition, In Absentia delved into an artist’s solitude. Seated in a chair, Hallberg’s head hung down, his super-sized shadow cast on the scrim across from him while listening to Bach’s Chaconne in D minor. Deep sighs expressed through long leg extensions snapped back into his body. These gestures drew an image of deep concentration and a searching desire for unanswerable questions.

For Flutter, Osipova and Goddard traveled on a perpendicular line moving downstage and upstage in a series of lifts and drops that bound arms and legs in flurry of activity. Dressed in sheer white pants and shirts, the foamy outlines accented the choreography’s’ angularity performed over a woman reciting numbers in Nico Muhly’s contemporary score.

Another relationship piece, Six Years Later choreographed in 2011 plunged Osipova and Kittelberger in an intense duet that seared the two bodies together in a multitude of intimate positions. At one point, Kittelberger’s arm passed through Osipova’s legs, his hand spread apart behind her rear as she sat on it, rocked and fell forward on top of him. Together, their bodies shivered and bumped chests in time to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata drawing close and pushing apart.

Finally, Alexi Ratmansky’s fluid and choreographically potent premiere Valse Triste to the music of Jean Sibelius returned the evening to the classical dance form. This ballet underlined Hallberg and Osipova’s trust in each other. From one end of the stage to the other, Osipiova flew into his embarce, dangled airborn off his arm and peeled off double tours in unison. Deeply satisfying, the ballet’s musicality and creativity deepened the audience’s undersanding and appreciation of Osipova and Hallberg’s artistry.

Running on two different, but equally exciting future tracks, the evening spotlighted the trajectory of Osipova and Hallberg’s spectaular ballet careers and glowing partnership.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY – Celia Ipiotis

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