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Natalia Osipova & Ivan Vasiliev: Solo for Two, London, August 2014


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I was at the dress rehearsal at the Coliseum - we just saw one of the three pieces, Arthur Pita's 'Facada'
 
Here are a couple of sample photos:
  
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Natalia Osipova & Ivan Vasiliev
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 
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Natalia Osipova & Ivan Vasiliev
© Dave Morgan. Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr
 
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Set from DanceTabs - Solo for Two: Natalia Osipova & Ivan Vasiliev
Courtesy of DanceTabs / Flickr

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Arthur Pita's piece Facada was glorious fun. I thought he was the only choreographer who put a piece together that can stand on its own and uses the earthy talents of Osipova and Vasiliev to everyone's best advantage. Didn't hurt that he threw in a lovely solo for Vasiliev, enabled both of them to be fully fledged characters on stage and create the most marvellously uncaring character in the 'Lady in Black' danced by Elizabeth McGorian.

 

I shall pretend I never saw the first piece of the programme, and was amused enough by the second, though without having perused a programme, I thought it is either about Grasshoppers, Dinosaurs, Evolution or Mocking the Irish.

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though without having perused a programme

 

The price of which, incidentally, was a princely £1 :)  Obviously not comparable with Mariinsky programmes, but even so, I thought I'd mention it.

 

I hadn't realised that the "lady in black" was Elizabeth McGorian, which brings me to my second point: unless you're sitting near the stage, I think you would benefit from opera glasses.  I certainly think I'd have got a lot more from the Pita piece if I could have seen expressions clearly - and possibly the other two, for that matter.

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They are decent little things for £1 as well. And I definitely wouldn't have wanted to sit any further away from the stage than I did, so yes, definitely one for opera glasses or seats close to the stage

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Here are a couple more pictures of the rehearsal from Solo for Two - We only had Arthur Pita's Facada for Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev at the Coliseum. It would have been nice to see one of the other pieces as well.

 

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 Ivan Vasiliev as The Groom and Natalia Osipova as The Bride
 
Osipova+Vasiliev+-+Solo+for+Two_122_vasi

 

Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova in Facada

 

More pictures on www.johnrossballetgallery.co.uk

Edited by johnross
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I had been feeling doubtful about Solo for Two, having paid a lot of money to sit in the Upper Circle then to find the Balcony had been opened, and general reports about the ballets and short running times, but last night was a revelation, thoroughly enjoyed the experience of seeing Osipova and Vasiliev closer up than usual, it didn't finish until just after 9.30pm, and was worth every penny to see surely the most exciting couple in ballet today, such intensity, dedication and chemistry!

 

I liked the first and last ballets best, especially Facada, which is unlike any other ballet I've seen I think, black humour, wonderful Portugese music, and great dancing, Arthur Pita was clearly inspired by Osipova and Vasiliev, loved the Giselle references, think this may become a masterpiece of it's kind.   

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I think I was too distracted by Vasilliev's garters to remember the glory of Ed Watson in a spidey-suit. I'm also convinced Spider-Man would never wear socks and garters without pants, especially not with a bow tie.

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I remember MANY years ago sitting in a Broadway theatre with my mother.  We were watching a (not particularly good) musical by Andre Previn about Gabrielle Channel entitled 'Coco'.  As the curtain came down after a rather lengthy first act my mother whispered in my ear: 'It's a good thing she's Katherine Hepburn.'   It was.  While Hepburn's singing abilities were oftentimes doubtful there was no question but that she was every inch a star.  (Cecil Beaton's costumes were ravishing too I recall.  Indeed both of these entities remain vivid in my mind's eye even now.)  

 

In some moments of SOLO FOR TWO - even occasionally in Ohad Naharin's PASSO which I must confess oft dumbfounded me (largely because I'm almost totally unaware of Gaga short of a certain lady and even then only remotely connected) I had a kind of 'far away' response.  During such parts I fleetingly felt as if I was again that child visiting a then (to me) strange Manhattan from a country then popularly - and legally - referred to as 'Great Britain'.  My ground shifted here as surely as it must have for Vasipova.  Somehow at times we both seemed shrouded in a (not always unpleasant or frightening) mist.  (And, no, I must confess I've never - even at children's parties - been made to walk like a duck much as Vasiliev had to in time to 'Greensleves'.*)  Still, certain goalposts were swaying.  That too can sometimes be revealing.  At certain points in SOLO FOR TWO I found my mind's eye casting itself upwards as I whispered to my mother:  'It's a good thing that they're 'Vasipova'.  Tit for parental tat I suppose.  I then winked.  My mother snorted - politely.  

 

The only thing is, my mother would not have had the good fortune/opportunity to be realistically initiated unto the reality of Vasipova's heady (balletic) charms previously.  She would never have (as I fear many in this far from capacity audience had not) seen them together glorify Don Q, Giselle, Corsaire, Flames of Paris, etc.  Indeed, the woman next to me had never seen either of them before .. EVER.  In many ways I could understand when she turned to her friend after the second interval (both of which were considerably longer than the dance works they preceded) saying: 'I was so relieved when I heard the women in the loo saying they were confused and unhappy.  Thank Christ it wasn't just me.'  

 

Still I found myself blurting out in joy as Osipova strolled away in dismay at Vasiliev's pseudo 'he-man' display in the aforementioned piece much as I later did when she reattached her wayward groom's 'bunny bow' - this time with sparkles - from the depths of her own burnished (if painful) fantasy buried in Arthur Pita's bemusing FACADA.  The ladies next to me remained 'stoney' faced throughout I fear.  They didn't even seem to be moved by Osipova's outstanding tabletop dance of death over the final remains of her strangulated and literally strangled Portuguese pain below - for me the single most outstanding feature of the entire evening.  Still, they applauded politely and even remained in place for the one front of curtain appearance by the mighty duo.   If Sergei Danilian (the producer) had combined, say, two of the three pieces presented (say, Cherkaoui's MERCY and the Pita) with the vision sequence from 'LA BAYADERE (as had been originally promised in the Segerstrom Center's promotion) - or even aside Petit's CARMEN with Ballet San Jose and the magnificent Jose Manuel Carreno in tow as Espada as had been itemised at one point on these pages - those ladies I thought - and many like them - might well have been better offered a more balanced perspective to catch onto/alight (in terms of Vasipova's historic/histrionic strengths) during their journey into this seeming wonderland.

 

I had one additional point of concern this morning.  Am I alone in being somewhat troubled by the fact that the two most prominent and positive reviews of this programme - as featured in today's links - are written by reviewers - and in The Daily Telegraph's case the woman who is the overall Arts Editor - who have previously had dinners with and, in the Guardian's case, shared a preparatory class aside the two stars of this production?  Years ago I remember chatting with Clive Barnes and his saying that he felt it was "mandatory" - in order to keep an objective critical stance on behalf of his readership - that he not do interviews, other features or in any way socialise with any of the personnel responsible for any of the productions (be they dance or theatre) he would be reviewing.  "Other people can write those," he quipped.  He even said that he turned down social invitations if he was aware that any such would be attending.  I must confess I was myself concerned when Sarah Crompton (ref The Daily Telegraph) showed up to do the pre-class interview and commentary with the Mariinsky Acting Director on the live class feature.  Other people (if I recall correctly) took those roles for the Telegraph last year when the paper featured similar video outings with the Bolshoi.  (Perhaps she won't be reviewing any of the other items of the Mariinsky fare to be presented.  That would, in my estimation, be prudent.)  Indeed, neither of these women made ANY reference to their associations in their SOLO FOR TWO reviews - and both, I believe, have additionally written features.  Perhaps this is just a sign of our times.  They may well now be right (I don't know) and certainly must be (rightfully I think) fearful for their positions given the overwhelming and current industry trends.  Within the next decade or so such posts may well be entirely non-vocational.  The internet does offer such wonderful succour in terms of alternative resource.  Just look at Bruce Marriott's gloriously rich DanceTabs!!!  We are, I think, so lucky; so very blessed. 

 

* I adore Vasiliev in part because he can often appear as if he wants to break out in glee.  While doing that duck walk (repeated four times) this dancer who succeeded in making even SPARTACUS palatable for me (and that takes SOME doing) looked (to me) for all the world as if he wanted to tell a joke.  I, myself, had wanted to hear it as I have this hunch it might well have been superior to his rather awkward haunch at that particular moment in time.  

Edited by Bruce Wall
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You are not alone in being troubled by certain critic's alliances, I've been aware of this for some time and never cease to regret that the likes of Clive Barnes, John Percival et al, with their personal codes of conduct, are a thing of the past.

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I think Bruce and MAB raise some good points here - perhaps we could take them over to the "Critics" thread, wherever it is? There's certainly something to be said for keeping one's distance from the subjects of one's writing, I suppose. I'm reminded that I recently saw an interview with a well-known tennis player done by a newspaper's tennis correspondent, and can understand the sense behind it, because you'd expect the tennis correspondent to know something about tennis (not necessarily a given, admittedly ...), but that I suppose is a slightly different situation because his job is only to *report*, not to critique. On the other hand, likewise if you don't get the person who's supposed to know something about their subject to do, say, a dance interview, then what happens? Do you get some piece of fluff from some staffer who doesn't really know what questions to ask, for example? Plus I believe that interviews pay better than reviews, and that's probably something to be taken into consideration, especially if a critic is effectively a freelance.

 

I still have memories of Nicholas Dromgoole, writing for the Sunday Telegraph, managing pretty successfully to avoid reviewing Lesley Collier's performance, even when it was a performance starring her, while they were married ...

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I went Thursday evening. I see that the Arts Desk review refers to the first two pieces as "greige". The disturbing first piece seemed to be Fifty Shades of Greige - the Ballet! Although the performers created some beautiful sculptural shapes. The only piece that I enjoyed was the final one, which I thought was wonderful. I appreciated the music too.

 

It was such a joy to see Osipova and Vasiliev dancing together again with such commitment and confidence in each other that that alone was worth the attendance. Their smiles at the end said it all.

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I am going to have to post a negative review of N&I sorry but what a load of drivel.  I don't profess to like modern ballet much but this was not even that and they charged HOW MUCH for the tickets?!!!  As my friend would say if he were a fan I think "it was the ballet equivalent of a degree in sh*teology!"  Awful waste of talent and it was Emperors new clothes I believe people clapped because it was them.  Even an Infant School Nativity Play had more kudos than that and as for Pita saying Facada could be the "back story of Myrtha" he really should not flatter himself.  I can think of several modern pieces that would have been credible and a far better use of the wonderful talents of N&I:- they are both fast dancers - Ballo de la Regina would have been perfect, then Le Bourgeois for Vasiliev would have showcased his speed and humour, then what about In the Middle Somewhat Elevated and/or Tryst if they wanted modern? Splendid Isolation would have been fab to see as well and Ballet 101 for him could have been another funny one to see.  So many other things they could have done and given the audience a bit more for their money. 


The content aside, N&I "danced" well with each other and it was lovely to see N&I them together - they were made for each other but such a pity this was such a waste of talent with the dire choreography!  Yes, bits of Facada were funny but the rest was "meh", though I must say I loved Elizabeth McGorian as the Woman in Black she was great, as was the guitarist.  His fabulous guitar music rescued this for me.  Thank goodness I had Mariinsky's Apollo and Midsummer Nights Dream the next day to restore normality.


Right that's my rant over - sorry if you don't agree but that's my take on probably the second worst evening of ballet I have ever seen - the other being Carlos Acosta's Cuban thing a few years ago.


Edited by Don Q Fan
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I like your bluntness, DQF. I haven't seen this programme, but I'm beginning to form a rule (for myself) that a programme involving only one or two dancers, however talented, is to be avoided. There may be exceptions but there is probably not enough interest, for me, in an evening (or afternoon) consisting entirely of solos and/or duets. Others will no doubt disagree. Actually, perhaps I might extend that rule to three or even four dancers.

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