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FORCE OF NATURE NATALIA’   PORTRAIT OF A DANCE SUPERSTAR

The dynamic new film documentary about NATALIA OSIPOVA. Directed by Gerald Fox
Premiere: June 6th at the Curzon Mayfair at 6.30pm + Q&A with Gerald Fox and Natalia Osipova
Sunday June 9th – extra screening at Curzon Mayfair at 3pm + Q&A with Gerald Fox and Natalia Osipova
Curzon Mayfair, 38 Curzon St, Mayfair, London W1J 7TY Tickets: www.curzoncinemas.com 
UK-wide cinema release from June 7th 
Sky Arts TV broadcast: June 18th 
TRAILER:
https://youtu.be/yRfDklgF6QI

 

FORCE OF NATURE NATALIA is a thrilling new film documentary about Royal Ballet Principal NATALIA OSIPOVA directed by the BAFTA, Prix Italia and Grierson award-winning British arts documentary filmmaker GERALD FOX. 

Regularly considered to be one of the world’s greatest ever ballet dancers, Natalia Osipova is constantly in demand by audiences, ballet companies, choreographers, photographers and collaborators all over the world.  Her time is beyond precious but director Gerald Fox has delivered the perfect treat for ballet fans, arts lovers and contemporary dance audiences with his superb film documentary which will have its UK cinema premiere at the Curzon Mayfair on Thursday June 6th.

Force of Nature Natalia follows a year in the life of this fabulous dancer.  Fox takes the audience on a fascinating journey to the heart of the Royal Opera House, home of the Royal Ballet – through the labyrinthine backstage corridors to the airy studios – many named after ballet legends including Sir Frederick Ashton - to watch Osipova in the creation and rehearsal of some thrilling works: Russian prima ballerina Natalia Makarova’s revival of La Bayadere which requires Osipova to dance both lead roles – Gamzatti and Nikiya -  on alternate nights, a challenge that she grasps with relish; Arthur Pita’s thrilling new dance/theatre work The Mother with the critically acclaimed dancer Jonathan Goddard which has its London premiere at the SouthBank on June 20th; Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s new piece, Medusa, with the Royal Ballet which opens May 8th and finally, an up-close-and-personal glimpse of  Natalia and her partner, Jason Kittelberger, rehearsing their new contemporary piece, I’m Fine.   

Film audiences gain a real sense of how much goes into bringing a work of dance into the light while Natalia’s rich dance history is explored through glorious clips of Royal Ballet productions of Swan Lake and Giselle as well as hitherto unseen footage from her personal archive.   Focusing in on her tireless pursuit of the most challenging classical and contemporary roles, Gerry Fox’s film shows that Osipova really is a force of nature in the dance world.

*******

Born in Moscow Natalia Osipova began training from the age of eight and when she graduated from the Moscow State Academy of Choreography she went straight into the corps of the Bolshoi Ballet, dancing principal roles from the age of 17.  In 2012 she became Principal at American Ballet Theatre and joined the Royal Ballet as Principal in 2013.  She has danced every lead role in the ballet repertoire; she interprets classical and contemporary roles with unforgettable dramatic sensibility and total commitment to her performances.  Her thirst for pushing the boundaries of her craft has led her to collaborate with world-class contemporary choreographers.  This unique commitment to contemporary dance so early in a stellar classical career leaves audiences and critics alike reaching for superlatives to describe her appetite for new artistic challenges.  As dance critic and author Judith Mackrell says in the film, she is, absolutely FORCE OF NATURE NATALIA.

Credits:
Directed by Gerald Fox
Produced by Justine Waddell, Alexandrina Markvo and Gerald Fox
Produced by Asterisk Films, Bird & Carrot and Foxy Films in association with Sky Arts
Edited by Miranda Watts
Camera Steve Haskett; Sound John Quinn

 

GERRY FOX – director of ‘FORCE OF NATURE NATALIA’

          What inspired you to make a film about Natalia Osipova?
GERRY FOX:   I'd seen Natalia perform a couple of times, at Covent Garden and at Sadler's Wells so when my two wonderful producers Justine Waddell and Sasha Markvo, who was working with Natalia on a new dance project, The Mother, approached me with the idea for a film about her, of course I jumped at it. Natalia is the most exciting dancer of her generation and the opportunity to make a portrait of her, someone who uniquely covers the whole gamut of dance, was irresistible.  

          What was the next step?
GERRY FOX:   Exceptionally for an arts documentary it didn't take long to come to fruition! Sky Arts luckily leapt at it and it was then only a matter of working out a slot for it and the usual financing issues. It took a long time to film, however, because both we and Natalia were determined that the film should depict the full breadth of her range and talent from classical ballet with La Bayadère to dance theatre with The Mother to contemporary dance at Sadler’s Wells and this inevitably took a year to achieve.

         There has been a slate of documentary films about dancers - what makes this film different? 
GERRY FOX:  It’s been a long time since anyone really focused in on a female dancer so I thought that was interesting too. We’ve had documentaries on Sergei Polunin, Carlos Acosta and Nureyev so isn’t it time to focus the spotlight on the great female dancer? I wanted to show the sheer determination, hard work and skill that being an artist of Natalia’s calibre demands. 

       What were the challenges of filming someone who is in constant demand worldwide?
GERRY FOX:   It was pretty easy in one respect because Natalia was working on all different facets of her dance career in London over this year so that certainly made life simpler! But it was still incredibly challenging fitting interviews into her very busy schedule and getting the cameras into her rehearsals on all these very diverse, highly demanding productions. We were lucky this supremely hardworking dancer was so amenable!

        What locations did you use?
GERRY FOX: The locations for the film really are rehearsal studios, great stages and dressing rooms. It's a very pure film that looks closely at what Natalia does best...dance! We filmed her rehearsing with the Royal Ballet for La Bayadère with Natalia Makarova and Medusa with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui at Covent Garden, in the wonderful old Limelight church/club and at Wayne McGregor’s studios at the 2012 Olympic Park with Arthur Pita for The Mother and various other contemporary dance spaces including Sadler's Wells.

        What do you hope audiences will enjoy most about your film?
GERRY FOX:  I hope audiences will just enjoy the sheer brilliance of Natalia's dancing in all its different attributes, styles and processes: from improvisation through rehearsal to glittering performance while also learning about her story of how she became a young dancer in Moscow and then with the Bolshoi before joining the Royal Ballet as one of its prima ballerinas. I hope they will enjoy watching what it really takes to stay on top of your game as a true force of nature!

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There is a little more here:


www.dancing-times.co.uk/force-of-nature-natalia

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I watched the youtube trailer. The information, especially the part of La Bayadare, really interested me.

And I cannot take off my eye on her big diamond ring around 0:27. It looks so beautiful!

I don't like the background music of the trailer... It sounds too normal to be fit into an art movie.

 

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Hoping to get to see this on the Sunday the 9th 

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Was anyone there last night? What's the film like? And how was the Q&A? A report would be great!

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Yes I went. I enjoyed both the film and Q & A. I really liked the Bayadere coaching,  Makarova, saying that Osipova went to ‘ a quite good school’. However, the majority of the film was about the creation of the modern pieces so quite light on classical ballet. I personally would have preferred it the other way round ( i would guess so would others in the audience). However, it was interesting to see the creative process and that is clearly what Ms Osipova enjoys. 

 

Ms Osipova was funny and intelligent in the Q & A session, switching easily between Russian and English. There were no difficult questions although someone asked if she had faced challenges when in Russia if her physique was not the current Ideal (or something like that)! 

I had assumed that the questions would be ‘planned’ rather than spontaneous but not sure now.

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Force of Nature Natalia

 

I saw this documentary at the Mayfair Curzon on Sunday afternoon.

Firstly, and thankfully, there is no narration; secondly, it concentrates almost exclusively on her dancing rather than any easy sensationalism that might be constructed from, say, her prior relationships.

Her story was built from archive footage from her youth; from rehearsals for and performances of La Bayadere, Mother, Medusa, I’m Fine and Flutter; from talking heads of critics and choreographers; and from extensive 'interview replies' (though we don't get to hear the questions) with Natalia herself.

And - in an approach that has the glorious effect of directly connecting us to her - she speaks in English throughout (in places as fast as her fouettés!) with the occasional aside to Makarova in Russian during rehearsal for La Bayadere.

Her voice-to-camera sessions provide a lot of insight, and she seems so natural and open; it looks like they take place in her room at the ROH (I assume she has one?) and it was fun looking at the artefacts surrounding her – a picture of her and Carlos Acosta, a Pure Dance poster from Sadlers Wells, etc.

There were a couple of laugh-out-loud moments in the documentary (Makarova reacting to her strong grip) and moments when Natalia just broke down in fits of laughter.

I timed the documentary at 85mins.

Some of the footage was beyond incredible – in particular some of her performance in Mother (it really looked speeded up). I was looking forward to seeing it in a couple of weeks’ time – now I can hardly wait! 

Other parts were technically not so good – the footage of La Bayadere (which as far as I could tell was the cinema broadcast footage) looked like it had been filmed off the screen in the local cinema, it was that lacking in definition and proper exposure.


This was followed by a Q&A session with Natalia Osipova herself and Gerald Fox, the film-maker, which went on for perhaps thirty minutes or so. For the majority of this she used a Russian translator.

 

Here are some things I learned (apart from the fact that she is as glorious and gorgeous a creature in real life as she is on-stage)…


-    She prefers to be called Natasha rather than Natalia
-    She is quite self-conscious (I think this partly explains why she reverted to Russian for much of the Q&A session)
-    Gerald Fox quoted someone as saying she is an actor who can dance, which I think is very apposite
-    Someone asked is she was planning to bring Facada back to London and she said it was one of her favourites and she was trying to. (Hooray!)
-    The documentary clearly showed the extent to which she likes to experiment in modern/contemporary dance, so someone asked if that meant she might be moving away from classical. She emphatically said ‘no’ and received a round of spontaneous, grateful applause. (Phew!)
-    Someone asked if she had plans to move ‘geographically’, for example back to Russia. She said she was very happy here (company and location) and had no plans at all; again, a round of spontaneous and grateful applause!  (Phew! Phew!)
-    Someone asked how she managed to fit in the schedule of intense performances she is known for, and she said that she knows when her body is approaching its limit and she just stops and puts up walls; she said one reason she manages it is because she does not train every single day
-    Someone asked how she learned the classic roles, and she effectively said she poured herself into existing characters (I read this as her 'inhabiting' a role rather than donning its persona/mannerisms)
-    Someone asked if she might start doing choreography (in the film it showed her ‘co-creating’ choreography with Kittelberger - and also to a lesser extent with Pita) but she laughed and said it was too difficult.


I managed to speak to Gerald Fox after the screening. I was under the impression that SkyArts (the documentary was supported by them) was planning to air the documentary in June, but Gerald thought it was sometime in September.

Worryingly, he said they would be showing a cut-down version that is 52 minutes long. Given that there was little or nothing in the documentary that I thought superfluous, this concerns me. Do they think the British public can't watch 85 minutes of one of the best and most exciting dancers in the world, but can watch endless hours of a violinist playing the same old stuff - just in different venues in different cities? Melvyn Bragg was at the showing (his daughter chaired the Q&A) and back in the day ITV was willing to broadcast a two-hour documentary made by him about MacMillan’s Mayerling!

 

On the one hand I’m grateful to SkyArts for supporting this documentary (Gerald said that other sources he approached wanted something more akin to Black Swan), but on the other I feel strongly enough to write to SkyArts to ask them to broadcast the whole documentary as it was created and as it is meant to be seen.
 

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22 minutes ago, Nogoat said:

Force of Nature Natalia
I managed to speak to Gerald Fox after the screening. I was under the impression that SkyArts (the documentary was supported by them) was planning to air the documentary in June, but Gerald thought it was sometime in September.

 

It's still in the listings for June 18:

https://www.radiotimes.com/tv-programme/e/h2jgzj/force-of-nature-natalia/

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2 hours ago, Nogoat said:

Worryingly, he said they would be showing a cut-down version that is 52 minutes long. Given that there was little or nothing in the documentary that I thought superfluous, this concerns me. Do they think the British public can't watch 85 minutes of one of the best and most exciting dancers in the world, but can watch endless hours of a violinist playing the same old stuff - just in different venues in different cities? 

 

 No disrespect to Natasha (!), but I do think that the film (which I also saw yesterday) would benefit from some judicious pruning. There were, for me, a few longueurs and a bit of repetition in some of the choreographic sequences which didn't seem to add anything to her story. I also feel that, arriving in the UK at the very beginning as it did (with only 'home movie' references to her childhood/training/performing in Russia), the film somewhat short-changed its subject.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, capybara said:

 

 No disrespect to Natasha (!), but I do think that the film (which I also saw yesterday) would benefit from some judicious pruning. There were, for me, a few longueurs and a bit of repetition in some of the choreographic sequences which didn't seem to add anything to her story. I also feel that, arriving in the UK at the very beginning as it did (with only 'home movie' references to her childhood/training/performing in Russia), the film somewhat short-changed its subject.

 

 

 

I agree more about her start and training would have made a more balanced production

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I enjoyed this film yesterday and I would say very much a ballet lovers film as there is a glorious lot of dancing in it.

I didn't realise would be getting Corrales into the bargain (in the rehearsals for Bayadere) so very chuffed about that!  It was also lovely to see Natalia Makarova looking very good with her beloved head scarf ....I could have watched more of that with a few more of her gems of advice to add to the "spirituality" of the piece as she said. 

Perhaps there were not too many video clips available of Natalia/Natasha when she was in training and very young but I had hoped to see a few more clips of her when she danced at the Bolshoi especially with Vasiliev....and likewise not much of her in any earlier performances with Hallberg 

A large part of the film was devoted to her in modern works....none of which I've seen yet....but she really seemed to enjoy these works created especially for her ....or more accurately together with her ....working directly with a choreographer is what she most seems to enjoy doing as it allows her so much more emotional freedom in the role she is creating. I loved the work where a witch like Babushka figure makes her dance and dance ....weird almost frightening costume though for the male....would give me the creeps dancing with a person in that costume but great stuff....and I loved all the folk dancing touch.. I guess the one to see though is "Mother" this looks pretty dramatic and probably Natalia at her best and most creative. 

I hope this film is kept in its entirety ...before sections get lost for good ...but agree perhaps a little too much on rehearsal time in some pieces ....though can see wanted to show how pieces arose from the very first ideas ....to how the dancers and choreographers bounced off each other .....right up to final stage performance. 

She comes off both on film and in person as a very genuine person absolutely devoted to the Dance ....almost a touch of Nureyev about her....and glad to hear she should be around in UK for a while yet. 

The film maker was saying how making these types of films where you can get really close to the action of the dancers is something that enhances the art and I agree.......for example I felt some of the shots of Medusa were quite revelatory and would not have been picked up say from the back of the Amphi at Covent Garden or any other large theatre.

Catch this film if you can before it gets messed around with too much a joy for ballet lovers.

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  I saw the documentary at the Curzon in Mayfair and Osipova and the director were on stage afterwards fielding a Q&A session. It was fascinating being so close to her and seeing her in normal clothes and not on stage! She was very gracious but also looked so tiny -- it was hard to believe she is 32! 

The doc itself is brilliantly cinematographed and I'd give it 4/5 -- I wish, like the doc on Polunin---that it had also talked about her personal life as she's had three high profile relationships with Vasiliev, Polunin and now -- a total surprise to me! -- Kittelberger! 

 

Afterwards I bumped into Melvyn Bragg in the men's loo (!) and Osipova walked off arm in arm with her fiancé into the tempting streets of London.

 

She's a star but definitely not a diva!

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)

 I also am looking forward to the ballets the documentary spent good time on especially, 'The Mother'. (A quick related question: what's the difference between regular and VIP tickets at the Southbank Centre's QE Hall?)

 

 

Edited by sybarite2015@
grammar

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4 hours ago, sybarite2015@ said:

 I also am looking forward to the ballets the documentary spent good time on especially, 'The Mother'. (A quick related question: what's the difference between regular and VIP tickets at the Southbank Centre's QE Hall?)

 

Dunno, but there is currently a 33% off deal out there:-

 

https://checkout.timeout.com/london/33-off-the-mother-at-southbank-centre-58096/

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Just bought a ticket for The Mother on Fri 21st! Can't wait. Quick question: where is the stage door in the QE Hall/Southbank Centre?

 

 

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I hope this film comes out on DVD, it sounds as though there's a lot of dancing. Is Natalia Osipova's fiancé the young man who did the online Medusa rehearsal, he looked lovely.

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Yes he is the one!

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I went to see this film which is still showing at the Curzon. Osipova talks at length (in english) about her ballet journey and what drives her - she is charming, smart and funny. There are plenty of sequences of ballet and dance rehearsal - Bayadere and contemporary. Highly recommended even if you are not particularly an Osipova fan. 

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Dont know if it should have its own thread but saw The Mother on Friday and it was so powerful. Osipova is such a great actress too in addition to her exquisite dancing!

 

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On ‎23‎/‎06‎/‎2019 at 01:27, sybarite2015@ said:

Dont know if it should have its own thread but saw The Mother on Friday and it was so powerful. Osipova is such a great actress too in addition to her exquisite dancing!

 

 

There is now a separate thread for this, sybarite2015@, in case you haven't seen it yet.

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