Catch a Russian ballerina's monologue in Shanghai

Ma Yue
Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova will make her debut in Shanghai this weekend, performing two sets of repertoires including a ballerina's monologue specially tailored for her.
Ma Yue

Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova will perform two sets of repertoires at the Shanghai Grand Theater this week.

Osipova, a principal dancer at The Royal Ballet in London, was born in Moscow and began formal ballet training at the age of nine.

At the age of 18, she joined Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet and rose to the position of lead dancer by 2010. She joined The Royal Ballet in 2013 with the goal of expanding and diversifying her repertoire.

Catch a Russian ballerina's monologue in Shanghai
Ti Gong

From left: Dancers Giorgi Potskhishvili, Anna Tsygankova, choreographer Meryl Tankard, dancers Natalia Osipova, Jason Kittelberger and Joseph Kudra.

Thursday's performance of "Force of Nature" is more akin to a ballet gala, with short programs featuring classical, new classical, and contemporary dance.

Osipova will be collaborating with elite ballet dancers, including Dutch National Ballet principal dancer Giorgi Potskhishvili and choreographer and classical dancer Jason Kittelberger, who is also her partner.

On Saturday and Sunday, Osipova will demonstrate her acting abilities by performing the one-act play "Two Feet," a solo dance that can be compared to a ballet dancer's monologue.

Force of Nature

In 1988, Meryl Tankard, an Australian ballerina, choreographed and performed "Two Feet." It was inspired by the life of Russian ballerina Olga Spessivtseva, who was driven insane in her pursuit of perfectionism.

Spessivtzeva was a top prima ballerina of the twentieth century, best known for her performance in "Giselle."

Spessivtzeva visited a mental institution to observe the patients' actions and facial expressions to gain a deeper understanding of the role.

Spessivtseva had been clinically depressed since 1934. Her persistent pursuit of perfection was thought to have contributed to her mental breakdown. She had spent 23 years in a mental hospital in the United States.

Two Feet

Tankard combined Spessivtseva's tragic story with her own experiences. The dance presents a tragic theme with a painful aesthetic while maintaining a humorous style.

This version of "Two Feet" to be performed in Shanghai was tailored for Osipova by Tankard in 2019. The choreographer has added Osipova's life details into the adapted version, including Osipova tying her leg to the bedpost when sleeping to stretch the leg.

"Two Feet" is an ode to outstanding ballet dancers and a reflection on the extreme rigor of ballet art. Despite the hard and even brutal training ballet dancers receive since childhood, they know it's a path that cannot be avoided.

"We do seven to eight hours of training every day since the age of seven or eight," said Osipova. "It's our life, it's our choice, and we do it with love."

Catch a Russian ballerina's monologue in Shanghai
Ti Gong

"Two Feet" is a ballet dancer's monologue.

Performance info

● Force of Nature

Dates: July 11, 7:30pm

● Two Feet

Dates: July 13-14, 7:30pm

Tickets: 180-1080 yuan

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater 上海大剧院

Address: 300 People's Ave 人民大道300号

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