Natalia Osipova’s Pure Dance with David Hallberg

Natalia Osipova is known for her great athletic prowess with high leaps and endless turns in her distinguished career with energetic portrayals of Kitri in Don Quixote and Giselle. This past week at City Center, Natalia demonstrated a different talent, her dramatic range in several short works. Natalia Osipova’s Pure Dance with David Hallberg consisted of six pieces, two with David and one solo, produced by Sadler’s Wells and first performed there in 2018. “For this program, I wanted to offer the audience works that will demonstrate the power of dance to move, emote, and inspire,” Natalia says in the program notes.

Natalia and David have a strong partnership that started at American Ballet Theatre, with memorable performances in Sleeping Beauty in 2010, Romeo and Juliet in 2013, and a much anticipated performance last May in Giselle (see my review here and curtain call photos over the years). Their close bonding was  evident in the pas de deux from Anthony Tudor’s classic The Leaves are Fading, the first work of the evening. Natalia was joyful while David was reflective as if he was constantly in search of something. The two have a great bond with emotion and theatrical timing as the two portrayed transfixed lovers. It was nice seeing the work, which is hasn’t been performed recently by ABT in New York.

Flutter, choreographed by Iván Pérez, was my favorite work of the evening, danced by Natalia and Jonathan Goddard. The modern work is set to a unique score, Mothertongue  by Nico Muhly, a soundscape of female voices formed by digits extracted from addresses where Nico had lived. This forms a backdrop for “a kind of archive of reminiscent memories, carrying the emotional resonance of his personal journey,” according to Pérez. Natalia and Jonathan hit a range of emotions in their difficult and unpredictable relationship, from joyful ecstasy to grief made more powerful by dramatic lighting by Nigel Edwards. Jonathan is a dance artist, movement director, and choreographer in Britain.

Natalia Osipova's Pure Dance with David Hallberg

David Hallberg, In Absentia by Kim Brandstrup

Kim Brandstrup’s In Absentia is an odd work, with David in jeans and a t-shirt watching a large and thick 1990s style TV with a remote in hand. David is thoughtful and pensive throughout as he moves with classical ballet style to the Bach score Chaconne in D-minor, Part 1. Most intriguing is the dramatic lighting by Jean Kalman that shows David’s silhouette against the backdrop.

Roy Assaf’s Six Years Later is a work roller coaster work, with Natalia and Jason Kittleberger displaying a range of emotions with great dramatic tension. At times the two engaged in happy banter, other times embroiled in extended shoulder boxing. Moods change fast; one moment happy, the next she slaps him. They walk away then embrace moments later. Then CPR type action – resuscitating a relationship? The Beethoven score (Moonlight Sonota) was broken up by Marmalade’s 1960s pop song Reflections of My Life. Well danced with great emotion by Natalia and Jason, the work grew tiresome and repetitive. I can only deal with a limited amount of roller coaster relationship conflict.

Natalia Osipova's Pure Dance with David Hallberg

Jonathan Goddard, Natalia Osipova, David Hallberg, Jason Kittelberger

Natalia’s short solo in Yuka Oishi’s Ave Maria was filled with spirituality. The evening closed with a pas de deux from Natalia and David in Alexei Ratmansky’s Valse Triste. Ratmansky and Natalia have been working together since he was the Artistic Director at the Bolshoi Ballet and has worked with David many times at ABT. The short work was filled with sweeping lifts and daring fish dives but was too short to make a substantial impression.