On Dance

Russian Season: Natalia Osipova Returns to City Center with World Premieres in Tow

March 21, 2019 by Lauren Wingenroth

In ballet we often talk about virtuosity and sensitivity as if they are at odds with one another—the dancer must sacrifice the height of her jumps or the speed of her turns to convey the depth of her character; the powerhouse trades artistry for tricks and bravura.

Natalia Osipova, the Russian ballerina who visits New York City Center April 3 – 6 with a dynamic program featuring two world premieres, makes a mockery of this binary. Equally at home as the tortured Giselle or the exuberant Kitri, Osipova consistently leaves audiences both enthralled by her nuanced characterizations and agape at her buoyant jump.

Her extreme versatility might be attributed to how varied her career has been. At just 32, Osipova has danced for the Bolshoi Ballet, the Mikhailovsky Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Royal Ballet (where she currently performs as a principal dancer), and guested at countless more. And though exposure to the expressive, chameleonic style of ABT and the understated purity of the Brits has unquestionably deepened her dancing, she’s been both a multifaceted artist and a singular technician since her early days at the Bolshoi, where then-director Alexei Ratmansky plucked her out of the corps de ballet and placed her into career-making opportunities.

Osipova’s relationship to Ratmansky comes full-circle with her upcoming City Center program, with a world premiere duet from the choreographer (who left the Bolshoi in 2008 and has served as Artist in Residence at ABT since 2009) entitled Valse Triste, also featuring ABT principal David Hallberg. Osipova and Hallberg, whose storied partnership turns ten years old this year, will also dance the pas de deux from Antony Tudor’s The Leaves Are Fading.

It won’t be Osipova’s first time headlining City Center as half of an illustrious pair. In 2015, she danced a contemporary bill with her ex-boyfriend Ivan Vasiliev; in 2016 she brought a program featuring her then-boyfriend Sergei Polunin. And though her partnership with Hallberg has never been a romantic one, it is nonetheless one of the most celebrated of our time. Rarely is the Metropolitan Opera House more full—or more electric—than when the two are dancing together during ABT’s spring season.

And just like her previous engagements, Osipova will be using the City Center stage as an opportunity to show New York audiences a new side of her dancing. In addition to her two duets with Hallberg, she will be performing Israeli choreographer Roy Assaf’s mysterious Six Years Later with Jason Kittelberger, Flutter by Spain’s Iván Pérez with Jonathan Goddard, and more. Her range—and her penchant for pushing her artistry in new directions—will be on full display.

Lauren Wingenroth currently serves as Content Manager at Dance Media and Associate Editor at Dance Magazine.