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Giselle- Spring 09 Season


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What a thrilling experience! Osipova was simply awesome and I could not take my eyes off her. If she was on stage, I was watching her, even during some of Hallberg's solo moments. All of her jumps made my heart stop. She really put her own stamp on every movement. I would point out a few of my favorite moments, but I would end up listing everything she did all night. She was dynamic, articulate, graceful, and I BELIEVED in her!

I'm sad to say that Osipova made the rest of the dancers look like a bunch of students (sorry ABT). There seems to be a low standard for soloists and an even lower standard for the corps. YIKES!

On the bright side, I couldn't be more excited to see Osipova dance Le Corsaire with the Bolshoi in D.C.!

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Zulme, or the second wili soloist, the one w/ the renverse-turns was L. Underwood.

All the principal dancers were terrific last night but we must not forget the corp de ballet.They must have been inspired of what was happening on stage. They were terrific esp L Underwood.

I have never seen such a reception for a new guest star at ABT . Natalia, welcome to America. We hope to see you every year.

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What a great night of dancing at the Met last night. Natalia Osipova's light and soaring jumps were incredible. She also created a lovely character in the first act. I also loved Veronika Part's implacable Myrtha and Leann Underwood's solo wili. But I have to agree with some of the other postings- for me, it was not a moving "Giselle", which was disappointing because I believed that Osipova and David Hallberg had established a romantic rapport in the first act. In the second act, however, they seemed to be dancing for the audience and not each other- Osipova was especially guilty of this. I never believed that she was trying to save him. I would love to see their pairing in a few years' time. For now, Vishneva and Malakhov remain the gold standard for me.

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ABT 8 pm June 13 2009

Giselle

Natalia Osipova

David Hallberg

Jared Matthews (Hilarion)

Susan Jones (Berthe)

Kristi Boone (Bathilde)

Hee Seo, Blaine Hoven (pdd)

Veronika Part (Myrta)

Melanie Hamrick (Moyna)

Leann Underwood (Zulma)

Ormsby Wilkins, conductor

This was a performance with a dream team!

From her very first entrance, Ms Osipova executed her manege of ballonnés en avant by sketching the step itself but taking the propulsion of the step in the air as a declaration of love for dance. It was like a platonic template of a ballonné.

She placed into service her many gifts, including her extraordinary buoyancy, for delineating the character of Giselle. The results are impressive.

Never have I recalled the mimed scenes in the first act being so expressive in telling the story.

In this respect, kudos is also due to Susan Jones, for her enactment of the role of Giselle's mother. She gave us a very moving portrait.

Mr Hallberg, with his striking physical appearance, is a serendipitous match for

Osipova's Giselle. His dancing is impeccable.

At the very end of the 'mad' scene his miming reached a level of conviction that promises further development away from the rhetorical response, and the pointing of the foot when things heat up.

In the second act, his performance seemed to me to be deeper felt and more profoundly integrated. At the end of his variation, lying prostrate on the ground, his head and face continued to register the inner turmoil he was facing with remorse.

His sequence of entre-chat-six (replacing the brises) was a brilliant example of pure dance evoking for the viewer inner-felt passion.

Ms Osipova was, simply put, dazzling in the second act. Everything she did, served to realize the story she was telling. She told it very, very well.

Ms Part, as Myrta, showed us the platonic template of unrequited love and its consequence of rejecting all communication with others. She was the perfect foil and background for the redemptive love of Giselle. Her authoritative interpretation was exemplary. And she is probably, in my view, one of the most beautiful Myrtas ever.

The two demis were excellent. Underwood received the most enthusiastic audience ovation at the end of the Zulma variation.

I haven't much to say of the ensembles except that it is notable that they are trained in various schools, esp. in the treatment of epaulement and head positions. Even the attack of the first movement in the beginning of a sequence suggests different training backgrounds.

I liked very much the Hilarion of Jared Matthews, even though he reverts to an

older tradition of Hilarion as a somewhat villainous character in his rivalry with the village and social 'outsider'.

The pas de deux in the first act was better integrated story-wise than in other versions as entertainment for Bathilde and her entourage. It still doesn't make sense to me why it is there except as filler to make the ballet longer. It was, nevertheless, beautifully danced by Hee Seo and Blaine Hoven.

Kristi Boone looked gorgeous as Bathilde in the costume of Anna Anni. The shimmering surface of her riding outfit's fabric created an opulent effect along

with the resplendently dressed hunting party and its accompanying pair of elegant Borzoi (Russian wolfhounds). All the costumes of Anna Anni were beautiful.

Ms Osipova remained true to her character even in the curtain calls.

When she moved to bring on stage the conductor, Ormsby Wilkins, she took his hand and kissed him on the cheek.

She also, at some point, kissed the cheek of her partner David Hallberg during the extended curtain calls.

Bravi to Ms Osipova.

Bravi to all in the dream cast.

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Osipova was quite different from what I expected. She is quite tiny with big eyes and a big smile and now quite thin. (She could be partnered well with both Cornejo and Corella). So her Giselle rather than being a peasant girl with a lot of energy and vivacity was rather a shy, fragile, childlike figure - both very attracted to and frightened of Albrecht's attentions. I found Osipova's acting quite remarkable throughout - her mad scene had many unique touches. However her great technical strength here was sublimated into making powerful dance images - there is an artist emerging here from the technical wiz kid. If she pirouetted not only did she do mutiples but they slowed down to finish with the music. Her jumps were all different- at her entrance she seemed to point her toe to her ankle and just rise in the air from joy. The hops on pointe in the Act I solo were perfect but she also was able to do lyrical movements with her arms and torso in opposition to the allegro footwork giving a dreamy aspect to the dance. Her spins as the revived Wili in Act II were the fastest I have ever seen - really almost a blur - yet it suggested the superhuman forces animating Giselle at that point - life charging through her. So the powerhouse technique and lack of effort wasn't used to do tour de force tricks but was totally in the service of creating the role making the steps more visually expressive and working off of the drama and the music. I see a lot of promise fulfilled here and much to look forward to in the future.

David Hallberg I knew had a great Albrecht in him and though he will definitely add and refine things it is already basically all there. He is definitely high on my list of favorite Albrechts. Naturally aristocratic bearing, perfect Hamlet-like appearance but also he was both ardent and tender with Giselle in Act I. You got the idea like Malakhov that this started out as a game but he became so emotionally invested in this charade that it became more real than his real life. He wanted to be Loys and be close to this girl who has totally captured his interest and heart. So he pushes aside the warnings of Wilfred and eventually pays the price. You feel sorry for David Hallberg's Albrecht when his ruse is revealed, he seems crushed too.

Veronika Part may not have Gillian Murphy's superhuman, machine-tooled bourrees, entrechats and turns but the style and phrasing were so evocative. The fluidity of the upper body and the way she phrased to the music created imagery that resonated. Gillian went for speed and sharp attack whereas Part had a more floating slow-moving menace. Also Veronika's mime was nicely specific - the hand to the ear signaling Albrecht's approach and her ordering the wilis offstage to lie in wait for him - that didn't read as clearly with Michele or Gillian.

Hee Seo and Blaine Hoven danced the Peasant Pas de Deux - she was warm and bouyant while Blaine Hoven seemed in better form than previously in the season. He looked less bulky and awkward and his dancing also had tensile strength but seemed a little unfinished. Some shaky landings from jumps or assemble turns and slight passing hints of insecurity marred an otherwise impressive showing. He needs some polishing.

I didn't know how anything could match or top Ananiashvili and Vishneva earlier in the week but these two did it last night.

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Osipova/Halberg/Part

Osipova debut at abt was a great success. Sold out show with a huge crowd going totally crazy for her.

Her vistousity is just brutal, and is clear that there is no ballerina who can match those tremendous jumps and the floating efect that she puts on them, simply amazing, she seems unreal.

With that said, I have to say that I came out of the show with mixed feelings.

I loved her protrayal in the 1st act ad the madness scene was glorious, I saw a lot of people crying in the orchesta section, something I hadnt see in a very long time. However, in my opinion, Natalia's lack of experience showed up in the 2nd act pretty strongly.

The romaticism style was gone, completely, up to point that I ended up disliking intensily her postures (upper body/head and arms positions). She was dancing and showing us her tremendous power, but thats not Giselle, not for me, not at all. She was light beacuse of those wonderful jumps, but at the same time she wasnt ethereal. 2nd act pdd with David did not look good, her movements were abroupt and with little attention paid to details. Especially after seing Vishneva/Nina and Irina's performances, this one didnt came close. I also felt a strong lack of emotion and connection with her partner which certainly didnt help either.

Technically, as i said before, she was just brutal, her entre-chats in the 2nd act were probably one of the best that I have ever seen. But Giselle is much more than that and I felt like Natalia has a long way to go to mature this character. This was to me, as somebody said before, -a work in progress- and I am sure Natalia will become much better and hopefully she will be make this ballets hers in the near future.

Part Myrtha was Majestic, as her dancing and stage presence is.

How can she be so beautiful and delicate, that upper body and arms are a gift from nature, incredible.

I mentioned in a post here a few days ago that I was amazed with Lean Underwood's Zulma on Wednesday performance.

Well, last night the girl danced this variation so spectacularly that she go plenty of Brava ! at the end of it.

Incredibly high arabesque, beautiful balances, a a couple of 180 degrees penches followed by a spectacular serie of renverses, was like, wow !!!!!!!

This girl needs a big opportunity real soon !

David's Albretch is also a work in progress, but I loved his performance very very much.

He puts so much love ! his technique was great too with tremendously beautiful jumps and woderful entre-chats as well.

I was very dissapointed with Hoven/Seo.

He struggled very much with all the steps and his partnership was weak.

She had some good moments but looked shaky a few times as well.

This is the couple that i dislike the most from the 3 that I saw.

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Osipova/Hallberg/Part

I'll be brief, since most of what I have to say has already been covered!

Osipova was incredible. From the moment she took the stage you could tell that she's head and shoulders above anyone in her elevation (*incredible!*), buoyancy, complete control of everything she does, and beautiful musicality. Sad to say, she truly made everyone else onstage look like a student. Even Hallberg, I felt, wasn't quite up to her level... and that's saying something, because normally I find him amazing. I felt their partnership had great potential, and I'd love to see it develop, although I felt it wasn't quite "there" last night. Perhaps that's connected to what others have said, and which I agree with, the lack of depth and passion in Osipova's characterization. I saw Ananiashvili on Friday and Dvorovenko on Wednesday night, and both were more moving than Osipova. And as an overall partnership, I felt Hallberg was a more perfect match with Riccetto at the Wednesday matinee. But then, they must be much more familiar with dancing with each other. I absolutely can't wait to see Osipova again.

Hee Seo and Blaine Hoven in the peasant pdd were fine but not great. They weren't significantly off in any way, but because I've come to expect such wonderful things from both of them, it was just a little disappointing.

Leann Underwood as Zulma was outstanding yet again. Those legs are so long and beautiful, her arabesque and penches are stunning, and she poured her soul into the renverses.

It's been a great week of Giselle. I've never seen Airs or La Sylphide before. I only hope it can halfway measure up to the great Giselle experience!

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Although they are very different dancers Natalia's elevation and her ability to seem suspended in the air reminded me a lot of videos of Yuri Soloviev.

I am bothered by the fact that the ABT uses such a small corps for their Wilis. Most major ballet companies I've seen use at least 24 Wilis, plus the intendants. The vast Met stage seemed slightly sparse with so few corps members in Act 2.

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Osipova/Hallberg/Part

I'll be brief, since most of what I have to say has already been covered!

Osipova was incredible. From the moment she took the stage you could tell that she's head and shoulders above anyone in her elevation (*incredible!*), buoyancy, complete control of everything she does, and beautiful musicality. Sad to say, she truly made everyone else onstage look like a student. Even Hallberg, I felt, wasn't quite up to her level... and that's saying something, because normally I find him amazing. I felt their partnership had great potential, and I'd love to see it develop, although I felt it wasn't quite "there" last night. Perhaps that's connected to what others have said, and which I agree with, the lack of depth and passion in Osipova's characterization. I saw Ananiashvili on Friday and Dvorovenko on Wednesday night, and both were more moving than Osipova. And as an overall partnership, I felt Hallberg was a more perfect match with Riccetto at the Wednesday matinee. But then, they must be much more familiar with dancing with each other. I absolutely can't wait to see Osipova again.

Hee Seo and Blaine Hoven in the peasant pdd were fine but not great. They weren't significantly off in any way, but because I've come to expect such wonderful things from both of them, it was just a little disappointing.

Leann Underwood as Zulma was outstanding yet again. Those legs are so long and beautiful, her arabesque and penches are stunning, and she poured her soul into the renverses.

It's been a great week of Giselle. I've never seen Airs or La Sylphide before. I only hope it can halfway measure up to the great Giselle experience!

So much has been said already, but I'll add some brief impressions of last night's performance. I've been watching Giselle for over five decades, and to my mind this was the most magnificent overall performance I've seen since the Maximova-Vasiliev performance in June 1966, which I will never, ever forget! I especially loved Act II: Osipova was exquisite, Hallberg was eloquent in his grief. He seemed so overcome that he couldn't even smile for the curtain calls. Part was the best Myrtha I've ever seen and deserving of every brava and bravissima that emanated from a nearby box. There's a quality to Part's dancing that's indescribable, but it has something to do with grandeur. As for Osipova, I am stunned that a 23-year old woman--still a girl, really--could act with so much depth. I know that others have faulted her for her acting, but, for me, dancing trumps acting in Act II. Ultimately, on several levels, Act II is about the power of dancing, and her dancing was mesmerizing. And Underwood's renverses alone made the performance!

angelica

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Like most others, I was absolutely thrilled by Osipova. What an incredible dancer. Please Please bring her back next season.

Kevin is probably negotiating with her now,offering her everything. :lol: She would be wonderful in La Fille... and of course, Don Q

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Although they are very different dancers Natalia's elevation and her ability to seem suspended in the air reminded me a lot of videos of Yuri Soloviev.

I am bothered by the fact that the ABT uses such a small corps for their Wilis. Most major ballet companies I've seen use at least 24 Wilis, plus the intendants. The vast Met stage seemed slightly sparse with so few corps members in Act 2.

I liked Osipova and Part (that's why i went),

but i DON"T LIKE ABT's staging of Giselle (having seen 3 Mariinsky's Giselles in DC in 2006 and 3 in Chicago just last October). I liked the way Mariinsky's story developes better. The Mother is just a mother, not a patronizing & forbid-everything monster, BOYS bringing the tables in and out (its boys' job to carry heavy stuff, especially in 19th centrury), court retiring to rest, Albreht kisses Bathilde's hand, 24 (Twenty Four) willies on tour, better introduction of Willies, Myrtha HAVING and USING the magic wand (that glitters) (that breaks because of Giselle's love, (not tossed as in ABT), less cluttered forest (it's cemetery in ABT), willies disappering right after the sun rises, not fillandering for too long, better pleading of Giselle and multiple offering of flowwers, her giving flowers from the air (standing on a-la-balcony) and a MUCH LONGER farewell dance of the soloist. PS: the Borzois (hunting dogs - were impressive)

I liked the technical aspect of Osipova, Hallberg & Part, but the performance DIDN'T move me, not a single tear (while i was weeping at Mariinsky's).......... off the DC to catch the Bolshoi

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Interesting criticisms of ABT's Giselle by YID and I agree with many of them -- I also think that Bathilde shouldn't raise her skirts so high when she flounces off the stage in anger as it's not aristocratic and makes her seem as emotionally unrestrained as...uh...a peasant girl; I've also seen more beautiful "dawn" lighting at the ballet's close.

But at least the production is missing the absurd accretions of the ABT Swan Lake. I actually like this Giselle for being a reasonably straightforward production and well designed. (The wild graveyard in Act II doesn't bother me. and I like having the Wili Wand be a branch from a tree since it makes the Wilis forces of nature.) I also like the fact--referred to in another post--that it tries to integrate the peasant pas de deux into the Act I action which not every production seems to do: Giselle wants to dance for the hunting party but since her mother won't permit it she introduces the peasant pas de deux...

I also think the company is dancing pretty well -- I saw an array of Moyna's and Zulma's (over the course of three performances) and all of them made a good--some a very good--impression. The company (as Chiapuris noted above) does not have the stylistic cohesion that shared training brings (and Giselle's friends, in particular, would make more of an impact if they were coached/rehearsed a bit more to have a unified look whatever their training) but I thought the admittedly not large corps still managed to convey the world of wili-dom very well.

I saw three Albrechts (Corella, Carenno, Halberg) and two different male dancers in the peasant pas de deux (Simkin and Hoven) and I do think the company's era of being the place to see one sensational male performance after another is under threat of coming to an end. I was quite surprised at how much steam Corella's technique seems to have lost--he's only in his young thirties surely (?) and he danced with less elan and excitement, than Carenno who is considerably older--nor did his performance compensate for lost height, speed, and turning ability etc. with any special energy, extraordinary drama of movement/partnering or chemistry with his ballerina (Visheva). In his brises his upper body bobbed up and down (initially arced forward over his legs, it then came upright with each one--from the waist up it was like watching a rocking horse and totally undermined their intense/hypnotic effect).

If someone were to tell me that Corella was dancing with an injury, I would certainly find it plausible. I know he is a very fine dancer so I guess I'm willing to call it an "off night." Carenno has also lost steam. However, I will say that that bothers me less because well, he IS older, and he definitely brought a little more excitement to the stage than Corella, including beauty of upper body that consistently complemented his ballerina--Ananiashvili: for example, they angled their heads and arms in such a way as to complete each other's lines etc. He also did a (slightly) better job with his upper body in the brises than Corella.

Sat. night Halberg was excellent. His performance was harder for me to get a handle on as a whole for extraneous reasons -- I was in pain from an old injury flaring up -- naturally -- and had a tall person in front of me so that I could never see the entire stage picture. So, with limited resources of concentration that evening I focused on Osipova. However, though I was delighted to see Halberg perform the entrechats (which I can't remember ever having seen though I must have) I seem to be the only person who was bothered by the fact that as he went higher and higher he couldn't keep his body on a pure vertical but slightly leaned one way and then slightly leaned another way each time he went up. So, from the waist down they were utterly gorgeous, but as a whole they did not seem perfectly controlled and that undermines the hypnotic "driven" effect of the moment. I am of course holding him to a very high standard, partly because he IS so good--possibly one of the best around with real potential to be this era's Anthony Dowell. I just don't think he is quite there yet. I thought he made a wonderful partner for Osipova--loved the contrast of his tall fair elegance with her tiny dark winsomeness. I thought the lifts throughout were especially effective.

Just to wrap up on the ABT men I was able to see (far from all of them I am perfectly aware): Simkin was great fun and seems to pride himself on showing off clean balletic positions (and I've read and heard fabulous things about his Prodigal Son) but he is ultra boyish and his dancing doesn't yet have the "filled out" look that one needs in a principle. If he grows into that, he should be terrific, but ... On Saturday night, there were individual moments in which Hoven really impressed me with how he executed this or that step, but he did not put them together that well.

That said, I tend to be more ballerina obsessed, and I think ABT's nineteenth-century repertory is a ballerina repertory (or should be) and in the ballerina department, with its guest artists (Vishneva and Osipova) and Ananiashvili dancing her farewell season, ABT has nothing to envy the best of the "old days." Vishneva seems to me one of the all time greats--and Osipova well on her way and indeed already simply breathtaking. This post is long and others have written of the ballerinas in detail so I'll stop,...except to say that I did find Osipova moving as well as dazzling...The only dancer I can think to compare her to is Gelsey Kirkland. As for Vishneva -- since I was frustrated with Corella I tried to think what dancer I wanted to see her with and the only name I could come up with that seemed to me right on target was Nureyev...But my point with these evocations of the past is not to play "old timer" but to say these performances were truly great occasions--and ultimately like nothing I've ever seen.

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Angel Corella was born in 1975, according to his company's website.

He's had his hands full trying to create his own company; it wouldn't surprise me to see that his focus is a bit spread, since he's at an age where he should be around his peak.

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Like most others, I was absolutely thrilled by Osipova. What an incredible dancer. Please Please bring her back next season.

Kevin is probably negotiating with her now,offering her everything. :lol: She would be wonderful in La Fille... and of course, Don Q

i saw her don q in moscow a couple of years ago and it was unreal. she's a firebolt. kevin should throw himself in the fountain.

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What a relief the arch-enhancers weren't an issue after all :lol:

This makes me very sad if Osipova is wearing arch-enhancers. There is a video/documentary of her as a student in which she wears traditional shoes with no arch enhancer, and I much prefer her feet pre-gaynor-minden and pre-arch-enhancers. I find these hi-tech ways of hiding the feet distracting. Honestly, I think some dancers' feet are going to look beautiful(or not) no matter what shoes they are wearing, but almost everyone's feet would look best in CLEAN traditional pointe shoes! Is this too much to ask for? I want to see the foot not the shoe, etc.

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I attended the June 13th matinee of Giselle, with Maria Riccietto and Herman Cornejo. I was really hoping to see a repeat of last year’s Reyes/Cornjeo Giselle, but due to Reyes’ ankle injury that was not to be. (I would have given just about anything to have seen the June 13th evening performance of Giselle, but that was not to be either.

I will say, however, that Maria and Herman’s Giselle was both beautifully danced, and very moving. In Act I, Maria was such a realistic Giselle. I bought into her whole portrayl – her innocent and complete love for Albrecht, her close relationship with her mother (perfectly portrayed by Nancy Raffa), even her delicate constitution. (Some Giselles I’ve seen in the past have seen a bit too robust to be suffering from heart problems.) In Act II, even though Maria’s first arabesque penchee was a bit wobbly, I found the overall quality of her dancing to be very light and flowing.

With regard to his dancing, Herman was at the top of his game – especially his double assemble turns and brises voles in Act II. His acting was just as powerful as his dancing. This year, Herman’s Albrecht was a bit more grownup than his 2008 characterization. He still seemed to really love Giselle, and didn’t even think about his real life or his fiancée when he was with Giselle. The chemistry between Maria and Herman was so palatable that I started crying as soon as Herman appeared in Act II, carrying flowers to Giselle’s grave. (My friends asked me when the ballet was over if I had a cold or allergies. “No.” I said, “This was just a really good Giselle”.)

It was great seeing Stella Abrera again (although I still want to see her as Giselle). Her Myrtha was intensely cold and forbidding, and Stella danced the part with great authority and control. Did her leaps have the power and height of Gillian Murphy’s? No, but I think very few dancers today can equal Gillian’s Myrtha.

In the peasant pas de deux, Carlos Lopez seemed off, particularly with regard to his leaps. I usually really enjoy his dancing, so I was very surprised. Is he coming back from an injury? Yuriko Kajiya, on the other hand, was lovely as Lopez’s partner. I would like to see her in the title role of Giselle in the next year or two.

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Alastair Macaulay has a full-page article entitled "Notice the Feet In That Body of Work" in this weekend's NYT (Arts and Leisure section).

The premise of the article is that feet and footwork are important to dancing, and to highlight some of the noteworthy instances (not limited to ballet) where dancers and choreographers have done well with respect to the feet. The secondary purpose is to caution against the practice of many choreographers today not to emphasize the feet.

Here are certain ballet-related excerpts:

-- Osipova is mentioned as one of the visiting dancers that "made footwork a matter of sensational importance". Along with the Argentine tango dancer Gabriel Misse, Osipova "left an impression of blaze behind them, and, though they're compelling through to their fingertips, much of that incandescence came, in contrasting ways, from beneath the ankle. With Ms. Osipova the exceptional thrill came from the liftoff provided by her feet; in more than 30 years of watching ballet I've never seen that degree of spring.... I don't mean to mention that either of these artists relies on footwork as a stunt. Ms. Osipova is remarkable to watch just standing on point. She is one of those ballerinas ... whose weight seems to contradict reality and to flow not down to the toe but up through the body and into the air...."

-- David Hallberg, like Osipova, gets a nice picture in the article. Hallberg is shown performing in "Ballo Della Regina", which is noted in the article as an example of Balanchine's capability to highlight footwork. "The feet of David Hallberg, Mr. Misse and Ms. Osipov are exceptional by any historical standard...."

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