10th July 2018
A publication by Russian Art + Culture
Natalia Osipova, Principal Dancer of the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, needs no introduction. We were extremely lucky to catch her between rehearsals and talk about her work and personal interests.
Q: Natalia, are you a person who can easily be carried away?
Oh, very much so! I can make a snap decision within two seconds, but it must be something extraordinary. When something clicks within me, I can be one of those people who may in a second decide to leave everything behind and travel to the other end of the world. I can be very sensitive to emotions and swayed by my feelings. However, the people or events that prompt me to act in such a way are quite rare.
Q: How did you manage to dance Kitri in Don Quixote with such abandon, with such a charge of emotional energy?
Well, the intensity of emotions was so great that I simply could not contain it. I do not know whether I am temperamental or not, but I believe that artists who have their own strong internal core must always follow their character. and their inner self. And this is exactly what makes the artist special, unlike anyone else. I do not really like it when people attempt to “sanitize” or “smooth out” my performance by pointing out to me how it should look, or how I should feel.
While working on my character, I always ask: “Show me the movements, tell me everything about the character”. I will always take up the cues and perhaps, after some soul searching, will find these qualities within myself. However, when it comes to getting into the character and the emotional charge it carries, I must do my own work, because I will never look convincing or natural if the role is forced upon me.
It is true that my roles are consistent with who I am. I have been mostly playing myself. And I am not ashamed to confess this. Maybe I am not an actress, maybe I am a bad actress, but there is a great deal of my own self in my characters.
Q: Which role is your all-time favourite?
I have several. I like to dance Juliette in MacMillan’s version. And I enjoy dancing Tatiana in Onegin in John Cranko’s production.
Certainly, Giselle is my most successful classical performance: it is very versatile and can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Sometimes the performance turns out well and sometimes, like the recent performances at the Royal Opera House, it can become intense. Not every role is as well suited to my own personality as Giselle. And thus, of the whole classical repertoire, these three are the closest to me.
Q: Did you join the Royal Ballet after you left the Bolshoi Theatre?
No, I first received the invitation from the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg and our partnership lasted for about a year and a half: I would arrive, rehearse, perform and leave. It was the time when I was, literally, crisscrossing the globe: I had many contracts and a lot of work in New York, in Milan at La Scala; I even went to perform in Australia.
One day I had a call from Covent Garden, and was invited to perform in Swan Lake as a guest artist. So, I came to London and stayed for two months. And for the first time in my life I began to think that this was the only place where I would like to stay and, miraculously, the director of the Royal Ballet Kevin O’Hare invited me to join the Company soon afterwards.
Q: Which British choreographer is your favourite?
Undoubtedly, Kenneth MacMillan. I am excited about the opportunity to explore his choreography within the Royal Ballet – the company where he staged his ballets and where all the nuances and movements are handed down to dancers very accurately, exactly as they had been originally conceived. I also love Frederick Ashton, who is very hard to perform, especially for Russian dancers. As they have different training, mastering Ashton is like learning a new language. Naturally, there are wonderful contemporary choreographers, such as Christopher Wheeldon or Wayne McGregor with whom I have worked. They are regaled as the best choreographers in the world. Sadler’s Wells also offers opportunities to work with such outstanding contemporary choreographers as Russell Maliphant, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Arthur Pita.
Q: Please tell us about your upcoming Sadler’s Wells programme.
This project is scheduled for September. It is a contemporary programme with two pieces staged for me by two choreographers, the Israeli Roy Assaf and the Portuguese Iván Peréz. When all the dancers are classically trained, the choreographers attempt to adapt to them. However, I would rather adapt to the choreographers, because I wish to learn something new and perform this piece as the choreographer had originally intended. I am also looking forward to a new piece by Alexei Ratmansky which we were planning to perform with David (Hallberg). I hope this is going to happen soon.