Sadler’s Wells Theatre
Reviewed – 23rd October 2019
“The connection between them was electric”
Pure Dance is a curated evening of seven pieces, designed to showcase Natalia Osipova’s talent and versatility. Osipova came from the Bolshoi to be a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, and in this evening’s programme, she was paired with three male dancers, Jonathan Goddard, David Hallberg and Jason Kittelberger.
The first piece was the delicate and delightful ‘The Leaves are Fading,’ from a ballet by Antony Tudor. Osipova and Hallberg wove a lovely pas de deux, full of a gentle longing like leaves swirling in an autumn breeze. The technical artistry of the two dancers and the lyricism of their movements was mesmerising.
Next came ‘Left Behind,’ a powerful contemporary piece, passionate and full of feeling. Osipova danced with Kittleberger, her real life partner, who was also the choreographer. The connection between them was electric. This story of a couple in the final stages of a tempestuous relationship showcased Kittleberger’s amazing fluidity, at times he seemed to be sliding through a liquid slow motion breakdance, where every gesture was full of feeling. Osipova was transformed from the graceful ballerina into a very real, connected and bold contemporary dancer. She has been criticised in the past for a lack of emotional connection with her partners in contemporary pieces, but in the seven minutes of this dance she proved herself, completely inhabiting the character and drama of the dance. The audience roared it’s approval. It was one of the stand out performances of the evening.
In ‘Flutter,’ by Ivan Perez, Osipova was partnered by Jonathan Goddard. This piece was a little uneven. The first half, with music composed by Nico Muhly, was true to the title, the two dancers fluttering and skipping into and out of the light to a chorus of women’s voices. There was a lovely touch of 1967 San Fransisco in the childlike playfulness. But Osipova had lost the emotional connection she’d found so deeply in the previous piece.
The other standout piece of the evening was ‘In Absentia,’ a solo danced by the astonishing David Hallberg. The only light came from a low source, disguised as a television, throwing a huge shadow of the dancer on the back wall. Hallberg gave us a masterclass in how to dance with emotional power and commitment. It was wonderful.
The first piece in the first second half was ‘Six Years Later,’ a rather loo long exploration of a couple’s relationship after a six year absence. Kittelberger was back, and there were moments of true connection and feeling between him and Osipova, and some clever choreography by Roy Assaf.
Ave Maria was Osipova’s solo, choreographed for her by Yuka Oishi. It was rather lovely.
The final piece was Valse Triste, and it paired Osipova and Hallberg in a graceful, lyrical pas de deux, the perfection of their technique and interpretation displayed in classical style as in ‘The Leaves are Falling’. Two dancers at the top of their profession, leaving the audience with a charming end to the evening.
Reviewed by Katre
Photography by Johan Persson
Sadler’s Wells Theatre until 26th October
Previously reviewed at this venue: