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Natalia Osipova's Pure Dance with David Hallberg

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Mr. Cobweb happened to be walking by City Center today, where he saw the poster featuring two of his favorite dancers, Osipova and Hallberg. I have my doubts about this type of star-driven program, but thought I would ask here. Does anyone know anything about this venture? Anyone planning to go see it?

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, cobweb said:

Mr. Cobweb happened to be walking by City Center today, where he saw the poster featuring two of his favorite dancers, Osipova and Hallberg. I have my doubts about this type of star-driven program, but thought I would ask here. Does anyone know anything about this venture? Anyone planning to go see it?

I believe this is a joint venture with Sadler's Wells where it was performed in September.  London fans reported elsewhere on line that it's a rather short evening. That said, if I were in New York, then I would certainly go especially for the Tudor and Ratmansky. Here is the program as listed on the Sadler's Wells website:

The Leaves are Fading by Antony Tudor: danced by Natalia and David Hallberg
Flutter by Ivan Perez: danced by Natalia Osipova and Jonathan Goddard
Valse Triste by Alexei Ratmansky: danced by Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg
Six Years Later by Roy Assaf: danced by Natalia Osipova and Jason Kittelberger
In Absentia by Kim Brandstrup: danced by David Hallberg
Ave Maria by Yuka Oishi: danced by Natalia Osipova

Edited by Drew

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Posted (edited)

I am planning on attending! Even if only for the Tudor and the new Ratmansky piece, which was featured in a lovely article in the New Yorker a few weeks ago:

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/dancers-at-work-alexei-ratmansky-in-the-studio-with-natalia-osipova-and-david-hallberg

...Though I am  a little nervous about whether or not Hallberg will actually dance, or how many nights; he just cancelled a show at the Bolshoi due to some leg pain. (At least I think it’s leg pain—the message is posted in Russian and the translation Instagram gave me is a bit confusing. Perhaps someone more tech-savvy than I can link his post for reference.)

Edited by vendangeuse

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Thanks for the input, Drew and vendangeuse! I will report back if I wind up going. 

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Hallberg’s most recent Instagram post is in both Russian and English and he says he cancelled because he had some pain and wanted to avoid the risk of a muscle tear. I took that as a positive indication for April with Osipova but one never knows.

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This opened last night. Was anyone there?

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I was at the performance last night, sitting on the Mezzanine. I was a tentative going into it because there seems to be a prevailing opinion here about "vanity project" programs like this, but I was pleasantly surprised.

The strongest pieces on the program IMO were The Leaves are Fading and the new Ratmansky piece, Valse Triste, which (although it was a mere six minutes long) put to shame some of the work that proceeded it. It was actually my first time seeing any Tudor work live, and I found it absolutely breathtaking... although, since it was my first time, I'm not really in position to comment on how the performance measures up to the long history of other pairs who have danced it. Valse Triste... what can I say? It was everything I hoped it would be. Maybe it's because it was so short (I think it was probably the shortest piece on the program, but I'm not sure) but the choreography here seemed considered, tight, and rich with meaning in a way some of the other pieces did not.

Flutter was my strong third favorite of the pieces presented. I have a fairly ambiguous relationship with the work of Nico Muhly—sometimes it is to my taste, sometimes it isn't—but here I thought Perez made good use of the Muhly music with his choreography. There was a lot of playfulness, joy, and delight in the first third of the piece, a welcome change of mood after the Tudor. There were a couple of instances in which it felt like Perez was trying too hard to be "mysterious," and I think the piece suffered for it. (Notably there is one section where the lighting is changing very rapidly between 3-4 different arrangements, and I found this more distracting than it was effective at conveying any kind of significance.) But on the whole I really enjoyed it, and Osipova and Goddard danced together well. (The NYTimes review declares Goddard 'fades' next to her, but I'm not sure agree with that assessment.)

The two solo pieces—Ave Maria and In Absentia—were inoffensive, and (I thought) mostly unremarkable, but I enjoyed them all the same. I'm especially curious to see In Absentia again tonight, since I was unable to give it the attention I thought it deserved yesterday—the woman beside me had her phone ringing quite audibly in her bag for almost the entirety of the piece. I did find the lighting for both to be very beautiful. (In the piece Hallberg dances, it is particularly unique: there is a prop television on the stage, which houses [I think] a projector that is throwing light and abstract images on the stage wall behind him. It also casts a very crisp shadow of Hallberg as he dances.)

I didn't really care for Six Years Later. It was the one low point for me on the program. The NYTimes described it as "long winded" and with that I have to agree, but I do not necessarily think the repetition was always effective. Some of the 'choreography' is just Osipova and Kittelberger circling each other and acting. I don't always mind this—moments in dance when, for lack of a better way to describe it, the line between 'choreography' and 'stage directions' seems to blur a little—but here, I did not find it evocative in any way, really.

 

On another note, I don’t know if the City Center actually attracts the rudest audiences in NY, or if the acoustics of the theater (or at least the Mezzanine) amplify rude behavior, but my goodness! The number of people talking loudly during the performance, pulling out there phones to look at their programs (light) or answering them (ringing) was astounding. Last weekend, I had a similarly bad experience when I saw Dorrance Dance. I absolutely LOVE the City Center—this season in particular has been fantastic—but am I wrong in thinking this problem is only getting worse? I think it strikes me especially because of how aggressive the ushers are there... right up until the lights go do. One can't navigate to one's seat (no matter how familiar one is with the theater) without being chased down by one of the ushers, but when phones are going off like crazy in the middle of a performance it's like they aren't there at all. This is especially frustrating given how difficult it is to secure a decent seat in the theater without spending upwards of $75.

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The New York Times review:  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/04/arts/dance/review-natalia-osipovas-pure-dance-with-david-hallberg.html

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Thanks for posting vendangeuse. I've been to enough of these vanity projects to come in with low expectations. I figured that no matter how bad the rest of it was, seeing them in the Leaves are Fading pdd would be worth the price of admission for me. I'm glad to hear that the rest of the program also holds some interest. Going tonight & looking forward to it.

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6 minutes ago, nysusan said:

Thanks for posting vendangeuse. I've been to enough of these vanity projects to come in with low expectations. I figured that no matter how bad the rest of it was, seeing them in the Leaves are Fading pdd would be worth the price of admission for me. I'm glad to hear that the rest of the program also holds some interest. Going tonight & looking forward to it.

Same--I am interested in that and in the Ratmansky, and the tickets were reasonable enough that those 2 are enough to make it worthwhile to me.

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I am not a fan of contemporary dance, so its no surprise that I didn't like Flutter, In Absentia or Six Years Later. However, none of them were unwatchable, each had something to admire.

I loved, loved, loved Leaves are Fading, Ave Maria and Valse Trieste and that made the evening more than worthwhile.

ABT has revived The Leaves are Fading a couple of times in the past 10-15 years (sometimes the whole thing & sometimes just the pdd) and I remember the pdd looking rather wan in those revivals. I don't think Osipova has ever done anything that could be considered anywhere approaching wan, and she didn't in this. Watching last night it struck me how different Osipova & Hallberg are from the roles originators, Gelsey Kirkland and Jonas Kage. Almost opposite Kirkland's ethereal lightness and Kage's stalwart presence (and I mean that in a good way).Technically the roles held no challenges for them and they conveyed the changing moods beautifully. Hallberg looked good but this one was all about Osipova, and she gave a passionate, ravishing performance.

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^ Agree with the above take on the program. Leaves are Fading, Ave Maria, and Valse Triste -- the three pieces in which Osipova was on point -- were the most enjoyable by far and showcased why she's a star. Valse Triste was especially beautiful. These pieces were worth the ticket. 

I DO like contemporary dance and still found Flutter, In Absentia, and Six Years Later hard to sit through, although the last one had some interesting and admirable parts, choreography-wise (and good music). Flutter reminded me of something you might see at a student-choreographed high-school or college dance concert. In Absentia did little to showcase Hallberg's talents.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I was there last night and agree with all of the above:  "Leaves are Fading" and "Valse Triste" (the beginning and the end of the program) were the highlights.  I was glad to see both Hallberg and Osipova in seeming good health and good physical form.  "In Absentia" could have been danced by a well-trained Broadway dancer.  Neither Hallberg or Osipova stretched their classical technique with this program - the choreography was either modern or lyrical ballet.  Both dancers have expressivity and physical grace that they have acquired with artistic maturity - even if I found the modern pieces repetitive or overwrought, Osipova was doing something genuine and creative within them.  Also, Osipova had great rapport with her three male partners:  Hallberg, Jonathan Goddard and Jason Kittelberger.  I didn't pay a lot for my ticket and I found the evening worthwhile to check in on two favorite performers who haven't had an easy time of it in the last six or seven years with various injuries and personal crises.  Also, their career paths have taken them away from each other and ABT and Bolshoi where we saw them more regularly.  

Edited by FauxPas

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Attended Thursday night’s performance. To me, the highs were high and the lows were...abysmal. I loathed Six Years Later, which was sadly the longest piece by a significant margin. It was self-indulgent, boring, and repetitive. Hallberg and Osipova couldn’t save it. 

In Absentia (Hallberg solo) wasn’t AS bad but it was pretty “meh”. The piece is staged with a TV set,  which Hallberg watches and returns to throughout the performance. A comment on the isolating nature of screen media consumption seemed intended, but it felt cliché and the choreography was pretty thin. 

Osipova was lovely to watch in Ave Maria but it felt like an odd choice of music. At least it provided the evening’s only opportunity to see her gorgeous jump.

I enjoyed Flutter and felt it was the best of the contemporary works.  Having only seen Osipova in classic roles like Giselle, it was fascinating to see her in a work that demanded such a totally different type of dancing. In Flutter the movements are loose and elastic—Osipova and her partner were flinging themselves around, yet both brought a grace and gravity to movements we think of as anthetical to such concepts. THIS was what I was hoping all the contemporary pieces would enable me to see Osipova doing, challenging herself with a different type of repertoire than her usual performances. But to me it was the only piece that lived up to that goal. 

Leaves are Fading was gorgeous as always, but to me the most exciting piece of the evening was Valse Triste (which Ratmansky choreographed for Osipova and Hallberg). So rich choreographically and it really showed off Osipova and Hallberg’s chemistry. As the piece built momentum, they looked like they were having the most amazing time on stage together. Great interplay between them and a sense that they were egging each other on to dance at their bests. The exuberance suddenly shifts at the very end of the piece, when there is a “fall” a la Serenade, and the music becomes more somber—but then the dancers pick up and continue, finishing with a series of sweeping, beautiful lifts. It felt like a miniature portrait of the ups and downs of any partnership, and how a successful one recovers from the “falls”. I hope I have a chance to see them perform it again someday. 

Even though I found some of the pieces disappointing, the Tudor and Ratmanksy works, and Flutter, saved the evening for me. 

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