BWW REVIEW: Natalia Osipova's PURE DANCE with David Hallberg Takes the Stage at New York City Center

BWW REVIEW: Natalia Osipova's PURE DANCE with David Hallberg Takes the Stage at New York City Center

Two of the world's most highly prized ballet dancers, Russian born Natalia Osipova and South Dakota born David Hallberg joined their talents to perform at New York City Center on April 3-6, 2019. Both have been principal dancers with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and American Ballet Theatre in NYC, among other credits.

In this current endeavor, Osipova is the artistic director, as well as partnering with Hallberg in the opening and closing choreography. Each performed a solo, and then Osipova danced two contemporary pas de deux with other partners, exhibiting her emotional growth within her art form. I was fortunate to see the final performance on Saturday, April 6th.

Having attended Antony Tudor's The Leaves Are Fading many times with live orchestral accompaniment, it was somewhat of a let-down to see it with recorded music and a lack of décor. That aside, it demonstrated the differences between the perky personality of Osipova and Hallberg's princely persona. It is an exciting pairing.

Flutter, an Ivan Perez NYC premiere, paired Osipova with Jonathan Goddard. They wore what looked like sheer lounging pajamas (costume design by Christina Cunningham), giving the audience a subtle hint into what lay beneath the obvious, and wearing soft ballet slippers. The music by Nico Muhly inspired the exuberant bloom of love in a state of tremulous excitement. Early in the piece, there was hardly a moment when the two were not touching. As time passed, they appeared and disappeared, each time returning to their relationship. There was a repeated lift which presented Osipova through an arm, placed face down on the hip of Goddard. A similar lift occurred in the two subsequent pas de deux; and it was effective each time. To see Osipova in an emotional role of this kind showed greater range than I had seen her previously.

In Absentia, an introspective solo choreographed by Kim Brandstrup, gave David Hallberg the opportunity to perform in a t-shirt and jeans. The program notes explain, "The 'absence' of the title refers to a treasured moment in the creative process when he has learnt and absorbed a new dance... Withdrawing into himself he is temporarily 'absent.'" There was a shadow projected on the back of the stage by the lighting (lighting design by Jean Kalman), which added to the effect of total absence in the environment.

Six Years Later, choreographed by Roy Assaf to music by Deefly, Ludwig Van Beethoven, and Marmalade portrays an encounter six years after a past that has given life to what we see. Osipova dances bare-foot with her extraordinary jumpers' calves exposed, partnered by Jason Kittelberger, also barefoot. This expressive and passionate pas de deux seems to show a more mature couple than the previous works. Both choreographer and dancers present their intense feelings, disappearing and reappearing, their romantic connection remaining. Although the work is long, it is endlessly fascinating.

Osipova dances to Schubert's Ave Maria, appearing in a long off-white dress under spotlights and smoke. Yuka Oishi choreographed this solo for Osipova to show the strength of love and sensibility, displaying her feminine side. Her pointe shoes were well-worn, allowing her to move quickly through the phrasing and the emotions.

Closing the program was a short pas de deux, Valse Triste, created for Osipova and Hallberg by Alexei Ratmansky. The beautiful music is by Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. She wore a long, light blue dress and he wore a taupe colored unitard (costume design by Moritz Junge), which gave the occasion the right scent of delicate romance.

Photo credit: Yohan Persson

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