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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Osipova joins The Royal Ballet

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This doesn't sit well with me. It is nearly impossible to move up at ABT and the guest dancers just make matters worse. Talk about killing the morale in that company!

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It's interesting reading a very different national take on this appointment. From the view point of a UK-European, when I heard the news I thought "Of course."


I've not seem Ms Osipova dance live, but I enjoyed immensely her Sylphide in a cinema live simulcast last year. And from watching that, I think it's very logical for her to take up a position at the RB. The range of the RB's repertoire, and its very deep foundations in both the Italian and the Russian Imperial styles goes right back to the origins of current ballet & concert dance as we know it, in London in the 1830s. Then, it was the sensation of a handful of Italian & French & German dancers (Cerrito, Elssler, Taglioni, et al.). From that sensation -- and I've read those original reviews they were a sensation in London, and that gave them the global fame they achieved. (Sorry -- I've just been writing a scholarly piece on Giselle & the early Romantic ballet). Then, later influences from the Russian Imperial ballet, then the Ballet Russes, offer a direct line from that Russian school into today's RB.


London is probably the major international performance centre of the world, with New York a close second, and the RB is easily one of the handful of the best companies in the world, so Ms Osipova's appointment to the RB is following a two centuries old tradition of international stars homing in to London, and the Royal Ballet. And her dancing style will meld well with the RB's pure style of classicism, moderated by the English style (I always think a bit "softer" and more graceful than overly athletic, after Ashton etc -- although Darcey Bussell was nothing if not athletic!!).


The other thing that the RB will give Ms Osipova is a widely varied repertoire, from new work to the great classics. It's a very wide repertoire, in an international city, with the best performers in the world. What's not good for her, or the RB audience?


Further, I think, Ms Osipova's coming to London is typical of a long-standing practice of performance/theatre (including dance) as an international industry -- it always has been. Performers travelled the world as soon as they were able, and felt they could enhance their reputations, experience, range, and bank balances.

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What an insightful response Redbookish! Thank you for the UK/European point of view and perspective. Osipova has the name recognition (well-deserved from her dancing) that will fill seats at the ROH and that's always a good thing. I suppose that part of my reaction is based on years of hearing about the British taxpayer who funds the training of dancers and questions about why more aren't seen as superstars by their own company... but that's a different conversation and I keep veering off topic. I agree that Osipova will benefit from performing the wonderful, diverse repertoire of the RB. It's a dream repertoire in a great company!

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Yes it has always been the case that visiting super stars get more attention then the home grown ones. Sir Anthony Dowell was trained by the Royal Ballet School became a Principal with the RB and later the Artistic Director. He was just an up-and-coming Principal when Nureyev was appearing with RB. In an interview with one of the main newspapers, Anthony Dowell wryly remarked that the only way he could ever achieve the same amount of publicity would be to strip naked and run through the underground!


I am sure Osipova will be excellent, but I do hope that some of the younger talent coming through the ranks will also get their chances.

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I suppose that part of my reaction is based on years of hearing about the British taxpayer who funds the training of dancers and questions about why more aren't seen as superstars by their own company..

Yes, I've heard & understand those grumbles, but then I think that UK trained dancers also go overseas and go on to great careers in other countries. I tend to think it balances out.


Sadly, I suppose it is the case that there's a bit of "The prophet is ignored in his own country" as well, as you & Doubleturn suggest. But genuine and regular audiences are rarely swayed by "celebrity" dancers I think -- they appreciate the development of all the company.


But I suppose I also know also that the performing arts is an international industry, particularly for those of the highest talents.

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Thank you Redbookish. I loved reading Mackrell's review comparing Olesya Novikova and Natalia Osipova. I actually learned a lot!


I think RB director O'Hare is doing what he can within the limits of the budget cuts (15%) to sell tickets and it's clear that Osipova is a part of that plan. It does also seem that he's giving younger dancers opportunities. Donald Thom (RBS trained) is dancing 2nd cast as the Mad Hatter in Alice, Francesca Hayward (RBS trained) is cast in Mayerling and Yasmine Nahgdi (also RBS trained) who recently danced Olga in Onegin and Claire Calvert (RBS trained) is having a really good season too. As a fan of the RB and (with an admitted bias for RBS trained dancers in the company), it's great to see the opportunities being given and sincerely hope to see anyone of them break into the same sort of celebrity status that Osipova enjoys with RB as well as the rest of the world.

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For all intents and purposes this is the first 'star' signing for the Royal Ballet in quite some time... odd for a company that has always drawn a lot of talent from overseas. A lot of people criticise the Royal for not bringing through enough home-grown talent, but international dancers have often overshadowed the native talent in the company, Nureyev being one example already mentioned.


Her arrival doesn't concern me too much and the benefit far outweighs the negative. The crop of Principals has been a tad on the stagnant side for a while and with the departure of Rojo and the upcoming retirement of Benjamin, there's opportunity for Kevin O'Hare to put his stamp on the makeup of the company. The main concern I have is the cost involved when she is clearly going to take top billing for a limited number of appearances, whilst splitting her time elsewhere. Tensions between the management of the Royal and ABT are not advisable either as relations have always been very amicable in the past.


Looking at the wide range of articles on the subject, what does seem to be a common theme is that both Natalia and her partner Ivan are planning to make their home in London, so the assumption would be that they are planning a long stay. Quite a few commentators have highlighted the significance of this considering that Ivan will continue to be contracted to the Mikhailovsky with no indication he will join the Royal at any point. My feeling is that the speculation is a little over-blown, as with London being the mid-point between Moscow and New York, it may just be a practical decision.


The other issue is the artistic reasonings, which are interestingly the same as when she left the Bolshoi. The Royal Ballet does offer unique opportunities for a dancer that simply are not available anywhere else, but perhaps she is just happy to flatter whoever will pay her a generous salary? Having said that, there's a widely held belief that the diversity of the Royals' repertoire is unparalleled, so perhaps she genuinely does want to stretch herself artistically. Look what the Royal did for Sylvie Guillem, she was already a 'star' when she arrived in London yet her time with the company completely redefined her career.


All in all, an exciting appointment whichever way you squint at it. I just hope the Royal aren't paying an exorbitant amount for her to only do a handful of performances in a season.

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