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There is a Podcast on dance called "A body's language" and in November 2020, they had David Hallberg as incoming Artistic Director speaking about his transition from a dancer to incoming director. Of course he speaks about his performances, and I loved especially the memories he had with Romeo&Juliet and Sleeping Beauty. Available here, no registration required. https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/a-bodys-language/id1555671551
Natalia Osipova: Pure Dance. Opening Night, Tuesday 22nd Oct, 2019 As I walked along Rosebery Ave towards the Sadlers Wells main entrance, I saw a man sat on the steps of one of the adjacent terraced houses, engrossed in his phone. It was only David Hallberg! I couldn't resist interrupting to say hello and talk briefly about Manon, but at least I managed to stop myself asking for a photo! For an opening night featuring two world-famous classical dancers and two amazing contemporary dancers, the fact the auditorium only seemed about two-thirds full was a bit disappointing. Perhaps this was partly because the majority of the dance pieces were those from last year; there was one new piece (Left behind) and one that had been extended (Six Years Later). The Leaves are Fading (Antony Tudor). I've never seen the original, but the programme notes say this is an arrangement of the main PDD. It provided a wonderful introductory showpiece for the partnership of Osipova and Hallberg - that they have a definite affinity for each other was left in no doubt. Their billowing, pastel pink/white costumes added to sense of fluidity in their movements. Left behind: This was an intriguing piece, choreographed by Kittelberger and danced by him and Osipova. As a contemporary piece, he was dressed in a green shirt and trousers, she in black pants and a long brown t-shirt. The music was Rachmaninov's Elegie. The only prop on stage was a regular door, set in a frame, placed to the left of centre and at an angle. This formed a physical and metaphorical device to separate the dancers from each other but also allow them to join each other, for the piece (according to the programme) deals with the lingering impact of people that are no longer there (and relationships that are over?). The choreography played to their respective strengths; Kittelberger doing a fair amount of floor-level moves and partnering Osipova with total confidence (at one point she leapt from her perch on top of the door into his arms), and Osipova repeatedly crossing the contemporary boundary by throwing in her signature classical spins. Like much contemporary dance, there was a lot of latitude for interpretation. As such, I was quite engaged by it, but didn't get that much from it - though for the upcoming Friday and Saturday performances I'm fairly confident it will grow on me. That confidence didn't extend to the next piece, Flutter. I've seen it a number of times now, and I remain rather flummoxed by it. In trying to 'get' something from a piece, I need something to grab hold of to help extract some sort of meaning. The programme notes suggest Flutter is an exploration of the unknown; that's fine by me, but successful exploration of the unknown means it then becomes known - this piece just seemed to remain 'unknown' (to me, at least). This may well have been deliberate, in which case the piece does have a meaning/message - albeit a frustrating one - that it's hard to understand things that lack substance/structure, though it's something we still try to do (there! I've just tried to do that myself! QED!). The unstructured/insubstantial nature of the piece was reflected in the costumes, choreography and music. The costumes were white, gauze-like, almost transparent shirts and trousers; they were hardly there (underwear, thankfully, was). The choreography gave the impression of frenetic, ad hoc, 'half-moves'; the main 'structure' to the choreography was the use of the dimly-lit back of the stage to 'hide', followed by Osipova and Jonathan Goddard running to the brightly-lit front. The music was mainly based around the sung/spoken word - in this case 'random' numbers - along with synthesiser. Perhaps this is what Philip Glass' Knee Play 3 ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PL9Rjn7EiRw ) would sound like after taking LSD? Well, as has happened to me before, trying to explain something has helped me understand it! I now think the chaotic, fractured, insubstantial nature of the piece is what it's all about. I guess the clue was in the name all along; the piece flitters and flutters along, defying attempts to pin it down. In fact, just like a butterfly, pinning it down will ruin it. I will now go to the next performance armed with a different viewpoint! As an aside, it was great to see Jonathan Goddard on stage with Osipova again, but he has such a distinctive look that I couldn't help but think back to the 'ferryman' sequence in The Mother.😱 After the interval, Hallberg did his solo piece - In Absentia. The staging is minimal but superbly effective. He is sat on a chair to the left, looking at what seems to be a TV between him and us. The light from the TV bathes him and cast a huge shadow of him on the back wall of the stage. When he gets up and moves around the stage, exploring and testing various ballet moves, his shadow acts in concert - growing and shrinking according to where he is. I always thought the piece was about his enforced absence from the stage due to injury, with him passing the time (unsatisfactorily) by watching TV and trying to both remember and look forward to returning to the stage. The programme notes suggest not, but I like the poignancy of my interpretation, so I'm sticking to it! If I see him on the street on Friday I will ask him! This was followed by Six Years Later, danced by Osipova and Kittelberger to the Moonlight Sonata and the old pop song Reflections of My Life. I really liked this piece when I saw it last year. It's supposedly about the relationship between two people six years after some sort of 'event' in their lives. It's a puzzle-piece that has no answer, but it has enough substance to hook one's imagination into. I just loved the bit where, in time to the music, they are facing each other, very close together, moving alternate shoulders, 'hitting' each other as they move around the stage. Is it an argument? Is it playful? Who knows? And does it really matter? That ambiguity extends to another interaction where Kittelberger is stood back, facing off to Osipova, talking at her, a smile on his face. But was it friendly or taunting? What was he saying? (and, yes, he was actually speaking) The ending last year only added to the ambiguity, to the lack of resolution. There is a lyric in Reflections of My Life that goes 'Feel I'm dying'; last year at that point the lights went out, the music stopped and the piece was over - very effective. This year, the song continued until the end and the piece segued into a song by Handel. This was accompanied by slower, more intimate choreography (with a lot of intertwined hands/arms) until the finish. Personally, I liked the version that finished abruptly, but that might change with repeated viewing. The penultimate piece was Osipova's solo, Ave Maria. This ended the show last year, and is perhaps the most personal piece I have seen her do. I have never seen her give a performance of anything where she has not tried to be 100% honest with herself, the piece itself or the audience. Here, to use the old football cliche, she is 110% 'honest'. For me, that's what makes her the superlative dance-actress she is. The final piece was Valse Triste, choregraphed by Ratmansky and danced by Osipova and Hallberg. Putting this at the end instead of Ave Maria worked for me. Solo pieces are fine, but dance is at its best when it explores relationships. That she has special professional and personal relationships with the other three men in the show adds an extra dimension. To bookend the evening with Osipova/Hallberg pieces underlined the special relationship they have, and I was overjoyed not only by their wonderful timing/musicality, but also when he did a huge and prolonged lift of Osipova over his head towards the end of Valse Triste - the very lift he was having problems with recently. When Osipova, Hallberg, Kittelberger and Goddard appeared at the end of the evening, they appeared as friends who had spent the evening in the company of other friends - us, the audience, who rightly gave them a rapturous reception.
The Osipova/Hallberg production. Ampitheatre Left A42 - amazing view. Limited legroom. As of now the first four rows of the amiphitheatre for this production are SOLD OUT. Selling for £36 (face value) plus £3 for signed postage/paypal fees = £39 in total.