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Natalia Osipova & Artists, a Sadler’s Wells London Production, at New York City Center

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New York City Center Presents:

Natalia Osipova & Artists
A Sadler’s Wells London Production
(Sadler’s Wells London Website)

At New York City Center

Arlene Schuler, President & CEO
Mark Litvin, Sr. VP & Managing Director
Joe Guttridge, Director, Communications

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 11, 2016

Run Mary Run (US Premiere): Choreographer: Arthur Pita, Set and Costume Designer: Luis F. Carvalho, Sound Design and Additional Music: Frank Moon, Music by The Shangri-Las and Frank Moon, David lynch, The Crystals, Lighting Designer: Jackie Shemesh, Performed by Natalia Osipova as Mary and Sergei Polunin as Jimmy. To see Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin anytime, together, is breathtaking. Tonight’s second program of a special run of performances, presented by Sadler’s Wells London, where this event originated, was thrilling, even though the three contemporary choreographies were somewhat disappointing. Ms. Osipova danced for several seasons with American Ballet Theatre in such gems as Giselle, most notably partnered by David Hallberg. The curtain calls were endless. She was also seen on New York stages in recent years with her ex-fiancé Ivan Vasiliev, who was a fiery, audience-attentive danseur. Now, with her new onstage-offstage partner, Mr. Polunin, renowned for some pyrotechnic dancing at The Royal Ballet, from which he departed all too soon, they are in a New York City Center special program that leaves the audience yearning and hungry for their classical pas de deux. Oh, if only they’d brought Swan Lake’s “Black Swan Pas de Deux”, the “Wedding Pas de Deux” from Don Quixote, or Sleeping Beauty’s “Aurora’s Wedding Pas de Deux”.

Arthur Pita’s Run Mary Run opens at a freshly prepared grave, with Mary and Jimmy, characters in The Shangri-Las songs (with additional music by Frank Moon), clasping upstretched hands. The pile of black dirt envelops both, as they crawl out in intertwining angst. He shoots up drugs on his arm, she swings in the sun with a long, red wig, he smokes and carries her on his waist, she wraps her legs around his torso, he lifts her up in an orange ruffled shirt, she stands shivering in the cold to sounds of whistling trains, they roll on the ground, and then they are once again buried. The recorded music is loud and overwhelming. But! Finally, this is a ballet couple with visible, not just interpretive, chemistry. Their kisses and embraces are persuasive and compelling. When Ms. Osipova last appeared in a special program with Mr. Vasiliev, the relationship was already problematical. This, tonight, was credible connection, and at the curtain calls Mr. Polunin, who had kissed Ms. Osipova’s legs and arms within this modern ballet, now kissed her hand repeatedly. The audience vocally rewarded both dancers and even forgave them for this less than important choreography. I would credit Luis Carvalho, set and costume designer, with additional kudos.

QUTB (US Premiere): Choreographer: Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Set and Lighting Designer: Fabiana Piccioli, Sound Design and Additional Instrumentation: Felix Buxton, Music by Mono & World’s End Girlfriend and Yarkin, featuring Sufi Vocal Masters, Costume Designer: Kimie Nakano, Performed by Natalia Osipova, Jason Kittelberger, and James O’Hara.

The Arabic word, “qutb” means axis or pivot. In Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s QUTB, the set and lighting designer, Fabiana Piccioli, this time gets the kudos. Ms. Osipova, in a dimly lit huddle with Jason Kittelberger and James O’Hara, opens the modern ballet (once again barefoot), with a giant moon against an even more expansive sun, lighting the backdrop. The eclipses multiply and move. I adored this set, it was like a planetarium, and the audience was drawn in. The Arabic music, by the above listed composers, included mystical, exotic, moody themes. The wood flute passages were especially magnetic. Like the first piece, the opening and ending scenes were synonymous. The piece is supposed to, according to the choreographer’s notes, exude a sense of suffering, healing, and support. The three dancers, with glimpses of red streaks on their costumes, evoking imagery of wounded victims, were in platonic intertwining. I would not mind seeing this work again.

Silent Echo (US Premiere): Choreographer: Russell Maliphant, Lighting Designer: Michael Hulls, Composer: Scanner, James Lavelle (Polunin’s solo), Costume Designer: Danielle Scutt, Performed by Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin. Once again Ms. Osipova was in a duo with Mr. Polunin, this time opening with shades of David Parsons’ Caught, only instead of strobe lights we had spotlights. Russell Maliphant’s Silent Echo brought out the duo in ballet slippers (Polunin) and pointe shoes (Osipova), finally. In separate spotlights, then combined, they gave the audience a glimpse of the repressed virtuosity we all yearned to experience. Mr. Polunin spun dervishly, and Ms. Osipova spun deliriously, then they leaped, she into his arms, he into lit circles. Mr. Polunin’s solo, music by James Lavelle, gave the New York crowd something to remember, although this was still a glimpse. The composer, Scanner, created the backdrop for the generic ballet lifts and lightning athletics. Tonight’s program left one with a desire to re-experience this duo, while their stage heat is live, in truly, classical ballet pas de deux. To Sadler’s Wells London, please.

Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin
in Arthur Pita's "Run Mary Run"
Courtesy of Bill Cooper

Natalia Osipova, Jason Kittelberger, James O'Hara
in Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's "QUTB"
Courtesy of Bill Cooper

Natalia Osipova in Russell Maliphant's "Silent Echo"
Courtesy of Bill Cooper

Natalia Osipova in Russell Maliphant's "Silent Echo"
Courtesy of Bill Cooper

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at