Natalia Osipova performs at the Solo for Two ballet at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theater, Aug. 1, 2015. Source: Alexander Sherbak / TASS
Now Natalia Osipova is celebrating her 10th professional year with a new status: She spent the current season as the prima ballerina at the Royal Ballet in London, and next season she will be back at the Bolshoi as a guest soloist. Osipova sat down to talk to RBTH about the changes in her career.
RBTH: Ten years is the official midpoint of a ballerina's career. For you is this ‘an entire 10 years’ or ‘just 10 years?’
Natalia Osipova: I have this feeling that I started dancing only recently. But when I look back to see how much I've done, it seems a lot. I was sitting around the other day, unhappy with some of my performances and decided to have a look at my old video recordings. I thought: "Not bad. Many things were done well."
RBTH: The ballet world is very diverse. How do you choose what is interesting for you?
N.O.: There are old ballets, roles that one wants to perform or perfect. And there are ballets which have been performed many times and therefore it's a pity dedicating yourself to them again since your body already hurts and you don't want to torment it with roles that are not that important.
I want to have time to do big, powerful, artistic things, which is why my last season was fantastic. I was able to do a lot.
RBTH: You spent practically the entire season in London at the Royal Ballet. From the spectator's viewpoint it was the most unexpected choice that you could have made: your grand manner of dancing, your emotional profusion, your desire to stand out from the rest – this is all contrary to the style of the London troupe. Why did you choose the Royal Ballet?
N.O.: From my point of view, too. Before, I had thought a lot about London, about how much I like the city, how I would like to live there. But I never associated myself with that troupe, which has its own, clearly expressed characteristic, its own style. I didn’t think of experimenting with that repertoire. I thought that I would never dance English ballets, that they don’t suit me!
But two years ago Kevin O'Hara, the director of the Royal Ballet, invited me to dance Swan Lake. I agreed and spent almost two months with the troupe rehearsing the ballet. At that time we were also working on a piece with Wayne McGregor, who suggested that Edward Watson and I dance in a concert in honor of the Queen's diamond wedding anniversary. Thus it happened that for some time I was part of the group. It was really good, I felt comfortable there. I felt that they were interested in me, that I was able to dance McGregor's piece and that Swan Lake came out really well. And right after the
At that moment I had been accustomed to leading a rather free lifestyle, which is unusual for a ballerina: traveling throughout the world, receiving temporary contracts, not having a permanent home. But as a woman, as a person, I started feeling that it was all tiring me out. But I didn't know how to stop, how to find the lifestyle that would combine creativity with a permanent home. Kevin's invitation came at the right moment and I understood that it was a rare chance, that I needed to try it. So I agreed, almost immediately.
RBTH: How would you characterize the style that you devoted this season to mastering? How difficult was it for you?
N.O.: This is very difficult. If we were to compare the English style to Russian style I would say that the first is more delicate. It is distinguished especially in the artistic element. It's fascinating that ballet master Frederick Ashton's ballets [Ashton headed the Royal Ballet between 1963 and 1970 – RBTH], such as A Month In The Country, The Dream, La fille mal gardée, which I danced, all trace and elaborate the artistic aspect for the dancer, the mise-en-scenes are already constructed there. The performer is not required to invent anything. He or she just needs to enliven the role, add his or her feeling to it. And I like this a lot.
It was very difficult to learn the right movements. Of course, I can't be like the English ballerinas – I come from a different school. But I try a lot and they help me. Perhaps I don't always dance in their style, but ballet masters tell me that what happens is an interesting mix, that with my Russian school, which is more open, I create an interesting contrast.
RBTH: Next season you are returning to the Bolshoi with your most famous role, Giselle, but also with Onegin, choreographed by John Cranko, which you performed this year in London.
N.O.: I've dreamed of dancing Onegin for a long time [she will perform on Oct. 15 at the Bolshoi]. I wasn't able to do it at the American Ballet Theater. I was afraid that now the dream wouldn't come true because I started rehearsing it after an injury and there was little time. But everything went well and I performed the role that I had dreamed of most of all. I think that it is one of my best artistic works and it
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