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Polunin “Miracle” in Ashton with Ananiashvili

Polunin “Miracle” in Ashton with Ananiashvili

Polunin Miracle in Ashton ballet with Nina Ananiashvili

Excerpts from a November 2015 review by Tatiana Kuznetsova

Frederick Ashton’s increasing popularity in Russia is shown in a new triple bill at the Stanislavsky Ballet, directed by Igor Zelensky, and starring Sergei Polunin in Rhapsody and Marguerite and Armand with Nina Ananiashvili. Tatiana Kuznetsova of Kommersant was swept away by the Marguerite and Armand, which she says has never before been so miraculously intimate in a Russian performance. It was like spying on the lovers through a keyhole, she says.

The artistic director of the Stanislavsky Theatre’s ballet company, Igor Zelensky, was at one time principal dancer simultaneously of three theatres, the Mariinsky, the Royal Ballet and the Balanchine company New York City Ballet. Since then his love for English-language classicism has only grown. He has regularly staged signature ballets of England and America on the Stasik stage, trying with mixed success to extract the right choreographic pronunciation out of Muscovite dancers.

Following on from the monumental dramas of the Scot [Kenneth] MacMillan, and the one-act lyricism and comic sketches of the American [Jerome] Robbins, we are now offered a group of the romantic poems of Frederick Ashton – the UK’s first and chief national choreographer.

One should add that the artistic director’s Anglomania is fuelled by the presence in his troupe of Sergei Polunin, with his immaculate English style: before he became the Stasik’s guest star, the young Polunin graduated from the Royal Ballet’s school and successfully danced with the company for several seasons, becoming the youngest male principal in Covent Garden’s history.

The choice of Rhapsody, set to Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini, was targeted on Polunin, with its hellishly tricky male lead role: Frederick Ashton, captivated by Mikhail Baryshnikov’s academic virtuosity and Soviet athleticism, made the ballet in 1980 specially for him.

“On a theme by Paganini” is dropped from the title with good reason – there is none of the agony of creativity or the battle against obscurantism in this optimistic work (unlike the ballet Paganini that the Soviet classicism Leonic Lavrovsky choreographed long before Ashton). The protagonist’s profession is indicated only by the lightest gesture (just a couple of times stroking an imaginary bow across an imaginary violin), and perhaps too in his romantic quest for his one muse – the ballerina, hidden among six coryphees.

But Polunin had not forgotten Paganini; he performed the pirouettes and entrechats, the explosive, whipping turns and slides with a psychological subtext that hinted at some circumstantial challenge, which actually cannot be found in this radiant choreography.

La Valse is a well-populated, opulent victory ball: the men in frock coats, the women in full dresses and tiaras, chandeliers, liveried footmen, the riotous crescendo of the finale in which the swirling of the couples, the surrendering jumps and high lifts, all reach an ecstatic climax.

In Moscow the grand triumphalism was turned into a feverish pursuit of the music’s tempi, especially as young conductor Zangiev was getting carried away by Ravelian contrasts, making the brass roared like a military band, letting the strings spread into a lyrical intimacy. The frock-coated men coped elegantly with the music’s heedless turns, but the women were noticeably panicking, spraying out obviously strained arms and frantically bobbing on the simplest balances.

So it turned out that the highlight of the “Ballets of Frederick Ashton” evening was not the premieres but the ballet in repertoire, Marguerite and Armand, on Lizst’s music, which the Stanislavsky has had in its repertoire for several seasons.

Then the miracle happened…

This time artistic director Zelensky’s choice of Marguerite was Nina Ananiashvili, former prima ballerina of the Bolshoi and many other international companies, and currently artistic director of the National Ballet of Georgia. She is 52 years old while her partner, Sergei Polunin, is 25. Yet the age difference was no problem: at the end of the day, this ballet was created by Ashton in 1964 for 25-year-old Nureyev and 44-year-old Fonteyn, taking into account the capabilities of an older ballerina.

The first thing has to be that notorious question: ‘chemistry’. If the players can’t be convincing in conveying fateful passion, the ballet is exposed as a set of stilted tableaux and some more or less striking lifts. So far, no one on any Russian stage has managed to transmit the magic of this archaic ballet.

polunin miracle

At the Stasik the miracle happened. This Marguerite and Armand forced one to forget everything about the old-fashioned direction, the naivety of the choreography, and the technical performance. It was as if it was not of the slightest importance whether the ballerina’s back was so flexible, or her legs went so high, or she had a wasp waist or not, if the love story of a selfless, tender courtesan and an ungovernable young aristocrat mesmerised you as if you were watching them through a keyhole.

polunin miracle

Photo Credit:  Kommersant

Sergei’s Swan Swims

Sergei’s Swan Swims

“And The Swan Is Swimming”

Belcanto.ru

 Ekaterina Belyaeva, 11.10.2012

"Swan Lake" at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theater

The ballet season at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theater opened on September 29 with Swan Lake.  Vladimir Burmeister’s version. Apart from the fact that it is a cult spectacle for the theater and, in general, a cult Russian ballet, plus the highest-grossing ballet of all time.  The “Swan” Burmeister celebrates several dates this season. Sixty years from the day of his birth will be celebrated with official festivities and even a mini-festival at the MAMT in April 2013.  Secondly, on September 9, it will be eighty-five years from the birthday of the first Odette-Odile Violetta Trofimovna Bovt (1927-1995).  The famous Moscow ballerina danced for thirty-five years on the stage of her native Stasika, becoming the first performer of many ballets of the post-war repertoire.

The main reason to visit this first performance of the season was not his “bearded” jubilees, but the debuts of young performers – Erika Mikirticheva and Sergei Polunin .

The latter began the duties of the premiere of the Moscow theater at the end of last season, having fled in February from London‘s Covent Garden. Despite his youth (22 years), the artist, apparently, experienced an existential crisis.  He got too much luck – he came from Ukraine, he joined the celebrated English troupe, quickly became principal, he danced a dozen leading roles from Capt. Solyon in the “Winter Dreams” of McMillan to Solor in La Bayadere.  In passing, I found out that he does not need a free flow of roles, if there is no time for reflection.  Polunin resigned and went into hiding until he was caught up with the call of the choreographer of the ballet MAMT Igor Zelensky with an invitation to Moscow to work and with promises of a creative atmosphere (in one interview, the artist complained that his English director, Monica Mason, had never even really talked to him ).

"Swan Lake" at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theater

The atmosphere for the dancer was unusual: almost two hours it was necessary to be on stage and only twenty minutes of them to dance – basically as a ballerina supporting partner.

The fact is that Burmeister, when composing his version of Swan in 1953, made changes mainly to the plot, to the composition inside the paintings, to the music and the party of Odile, and Siegfried received almost nothing in comparison with the pre-revolutionary editions.  Burmeister in the play has a prologue and an epilogue, which clearly tells the story of the transformation of Odette into a swan: a curtain opens in the middle of the overture, a young girl in a white dress runs out from the wings, an evil owl (Rothbart) stands on a rock and wings theatrically, the girl disappears imperceptibly,  Then on the flat lake in the background a plastic swan moves in the crown, the curtain closes, and the music still sounds for a few minutes.

The whole of the first picture Prince Siegfried nervously wanders around the stage, drinking wine from the cup, humbly nods to the Queen Mother,

while his friends and a jester entertain him and themselves dancing to the music that was originally written by Tchaikovsky for this picture, but later partially capped, and partially used by Petipa to create his brilliant black pas de deux 3 act.

The courtiers flaunt semiclassical dances, which once made their creator famous, and today look very archaically – as museum exhibits from the era of the USSR. All the time you expect that secondary characters with jumps to dull sixth positions will give way to the handsome prince, but will not happen. The second picture corresponds to the classical white picture of Lev Ivanov, only in a shortened format (there are fewer swans, the amplitude of all movements is more modest).

"Swan Lake" at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theater

The main trick for setting Burmeister – the third picture. Odile as a fatal woman appears at the ball along with the Spaniards and accompanied by Rothbart (absolutely pedestrian character). She seduces the prince not because she looks like Odette, whom he is in love with, but because he looks like Carmen, and she seduces everyone. Black pas de deux at Burmeister also exists – but in his author’s choreography (with tricks like a Don-Kikhotovsky jump of a ballerina in the hands of a partner) and to the music known to us on the Pas de de Tchaikovsky-Balanchine. At the same time Rothbart ( Anton Domashov ) constantly sympathetically interferes in the personal life of her daughter and her alleged bridegroom right at the time of their main dance. It is clear already that

Polunin, when he reached his short variation, gave out to the maximum – picturesque pirouettes, double tours with accurate landings in the fifth, stone solid, etc.

In pantomime and gaming pieces Polunin kept in character delicately, which pleased.

The fourth picture is not significant, except for the sugary, fantastic-plastic happy ending. Odette does not just not die a swan, she survives and regains her human appearance (puts on a dress and looks like a fairy Alyonushka) to match Siegfried.

The work of Erika Mikirticheva was rather liked, although she still has to sharpen the role.

There were a lot of technical inconsistencies that would improve in time. Actress’s audacity Odile, she threw out with interest, but not enough aplomb and, in general, hardness in the movements.

In the theater they openly say that they have a change of generations.

Two debuts of the young in the first ballet evening – this is a good start. We will wait for the continuation. October 29 Polunin will dance Basil in “Don Quixote” A. Chichinadze – another rarity from the “treasury” MAMT.

Photos by Mikhail Logvinov

 

Sergei Helps Make A Ballerina 2018

Sergei Helps Make A Ballerina 2018

Need To Turn A Hollywood Star Into a Ballerina? Call Kurt Froman

By Jennifer Stahl for Dance Magazine February 2018

Kurt Froman with Jennifer Lawrence, whom he coached for the upcoming film Red Sparrow
 How does someone go from a New York City Ballet corps member to training Hollywood A-listers like Natalie Portman, Rooney Mara and Jennifer Lawrence? By getting injured, says Kurt Froman.

When an ankle sprain left him sidelined a few years back, Froman was “sitting at home, depressed” when he sent his friend Benjamin Millepied an email asking what he was up to. It turned out that Millepied just been hired to choreograph some scenes for a movie, but had to be in Paris during pre-production. “He needed someone to teach two actors choreography and get them in shape,” says Froman. With nothing else on his plate, he said yes, and started prepping Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis for Black Swan.

Since then, one gig has led to another. Froman helped Rooney Mara get more comfortable in her body for some dance-y scenes in Terrence Malick’s Song to Song. Amazon hired him to train Christina Ricci to perform a short solo on pointe for its TV series “Z: The Beginning of Everything.”

His latest highprofile gig was training Jennifer Lawrence for the big-budget spy thriller Red Sparrow, in theaters March 2. He talked to Dance Magazine about what it takes to speed-learn ballet, how much these kinds of gigs pay and what he has to say to all the ballet-in-Hollywood haters.

Froman Had To Create A Believable Bolshoi Principal

With no prior dance training, Lawrence had to pass for a Bolshoi principal during a six-minute sequence Justin Peck was choreographing for the beginning of Red Sparrow. Although Isabella Boylston would be her dance double, Lawrence needed to be able to hit the right marks at the right time, with believable épaulement and port de bras for the visual effects to work.

“Jen had to know all six minutes of choreography, the rises and falls of the body, how to hold her arms correctly, how to be lifted by her partner [Sergei Polunin], how to do finger turns and spot her head,” Froman says. To make sure she hit the right steps at the right time, they filmed her under tempo at about 75 percent of the actual speed. But she impressed everyone involved by memorizing the full sequence.

Froman Teaches More Than Just Ballet Class

Froman and Lawrence worked together for three and a half months, four hours a day, five days a week. Before diving into Peck’s lightning-fast choreography, they’d start with 45 minutes at the barre each morning to help Lawrence learn the rules of ballet. “Also, for the character, it was helpful for her to have the discipline and get used to someone touching her and correcting her like ballet masters would,” says Froman. They worked with rotation disks to help her understand turnout, and did strength training to develop a ballet dancer’s deltoid muscles. (Lawrence also had a separate Pilates and fitness teacher.)

He Breaks Down All the Little Details

Training a Hollywood actor isn’t just about teaching them steps. Froman also has to break down things like the philosophy of ballet—why a certain angle is considered more beautiful than another—and how dancers hold and care for their bodies.

Froman showed Lawrence archival films of iconic Balanchine ballerinas like Merrill Ashley, Maria Tallchief and Melissa Hayden performing Firebird to explain the difference between this bird and Odette/Odile.

“The director, Francis Lawrence, also had me talk to her about things like how would a dancer sit—if she were sitting on a bed, would she be rubbing her feet, or doing a hamstring stretch? How would she walk down the street? Things that had to be carried throughout the film.”

The Paycheck Is Surprisingly…Ordinary

Froman says the pay for these projects varies based on who’s hiring him and what the budget is. But he hasn’t exactly hit the Hollywood jackpot. For Black Swan, he agreed to a flat fee that didn’t amount to much once he put in all the hours. Now he charges an hourly fee. “It’s adequate compensation,” he says, “but no more than what a personal trainer would get.”

Froman on the set of Black Swan. Photo via Vimeo

He’s Tapping An Undiscovered Market

Froman has realized that, beyond just training in ballet, there are many actors who simply want to be more comfortable in their bodies. “If they know there’s a dance scene, they want to feel capable and confident, they want to have options for what they can do in the moment.”

Froman Loves Helping Bring Ballet To The Masses

Although Hollywood sometimes gets flak from the dance world for misrepresenting the art form, Froman relishes the opportunity to reach a broad audience. “When I started dancing in Texas in the 80s, there wasn’t anything out there that I had as an example of what I wanted to do, except The Turning Point, which I would watch every day,” he says. “I’ve loved having a hand in this process, and feel lucky to pass on my art form.”

 

It’s Elemental!

It’s Elemental!

Earth, Air, Fire, Water… and Sergei!!

“Elemental” Sergei Polunin / Сергей Полунин

Earth – La Bayadere

Air – Sleeping Beauty

Fire – Marguerite & Armand

Water – Sleeping Beauty

Music: “The Long Story” by Damiano Baldoni with permission under license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

Please subscribe to my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/PamBoehmeSimon For additional videos and info, please visit my fan site at https://sergeipoluningracefulbeast.com

Sergei Polunin is a Ukrainian ballet dancer famous for his “once every hundred years” talent, his incredulous elevation, his impeccable technique, and glorious dramatic range. He brought an unprecedented new awareness to ballet when he danced in Hozier’s viral video ”Take Me To Church.” He starred in Diesel’s “Make Love Not Walls” campaign, and is a much sought after model and actor. He has appeared in such films as Murder On The Orient Express, Dancer (a documentary of his life), White Crow, and Red Sparrow.

This is a ballet|Полунин балет iMovie by Pam Boehme Simon.

Thank you for watching.

Sergei & Manon, 2011

Sergei & Manon, 2011

Manon, Royal Ballet, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Review

Lauren Cuthbertson makes her mark in her debut performance of Manon at the Royal Opera House.

4 out of 5 stars
Sergei Polunin as Des Grieux,  Lauren Cuthbertson as Manon at the Royal Opera House
Perfect: Sergei Polunin as Des Grieux, Lauren Cuthbertson as Manon at the Royal Opera House Photo: Alastair Muir

In 2009 the Royal Ballet principal Lauren Cuthbertson was diagnosed with glandular fever, which turned into agonisingly debilitating ME and necessitated not only an 18-month lay-off from the stage, but long periods of total physical incapacity.

She might never have danced again. In fact, she has returned to the stage, a different and more interesting ballerina, one determined to fulfil her ambition to perform the most challenging roles in the balletic repertoire.

And as challenges go, Kenneth MacMillan’s Manon is up there with the best of them. His three-act interpretation of the Abbé Prévost’s tragic novel is not so much the story of virginal innocence corrupted but of a voracious minx foiled. Manon may be on her way to a convent when we first see her, but she is never in any doubt about the power her beauty grants her in the world, and her treatment of the adoring student Des Grieux, whom she abandons for the jewels and furs offered by a rich protector, is little short of scandalous.

The trick is not only to negotiate the intricate swoops and entanglements of MacMillan’s evocative choreography, which sees Manon constantly passed from man to man like an expensive bauble, but also to make you care about this calculating, irrational heroine.

On her debut, Cuthbertson makes her mark. This is a wonderfully detailed performance, a carefully charted journey from girlish tease to enraptured lover to hard-bitten courtesan and finally to heart-broken and dying waif. She makes you so conscious of Manon’s love of luxury, her longing for the good life, that you understand her rash decisions even if you don’t sympathise with them. Her dancing is sumptuous but careful; there is a tiny bit of abandon lacking.

Her Des Grieux, however, is another matter. Sergei Polunin’s extreme youth makes him perfect for the dewy-eyed dreamer who throws his life away in thrall to Manon’s beauty. When we first see him in a big hat, with clumsy, out-turned feet, he is almost comically the innocent abroad. Then, as the role takes hold, the sheer purity of his movement in the lingering solos and impassioned pas de deux enables him powerfully to express his character’s ardour and despair.

Together, the couple find emotion in unexpected places, not in the big duets, but in the party scene, for example. The moment when Des Grieux pours out his disgust and despair at his love’s behaviour has rarely been more powerful. With wonderful support from Gary Avis as a particularly vulpine Monsieur GM and Jos Martin in ferociously sharp form as the conniving Lescaut, this is an evening to relish.

In repertoire until November 26

Sergei And His Giselles

Sergei And His Giselles

“Sergei And His Giselles” featuring Sergei Polunin / Сергей Полунин with Svetlana Zakharova, Roberta Marquez, Natalia Somova (please forgive the misspelling of Miss Somova’s last name in the video credits), Diana Vishneva, Kristina Shapran, and Natalia Osipova.

The ballet Giselle was first performed in 1841 with Italian ballerina Carlotta Grisi as Giselle. Staged by Marius Petipa with music composed by Adolph Adam, and choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, it was an instant success.

The ballet is about a peasant girl named Giselle, who dies of a broken heart after discovering her lover is betrothed to another. The Wilis, a group of supernatural women who dance men to death, summon Giselle from her grave. They target her lover for death, but Giselle’s great love frees him from their grasp.

The Wilis are particularly haunting characters. They are the spirits of virgin girls that died before they married. These creatures were very popular in Romantic era ballets. Led by Myrtha, the Queen of the Wilis, they gain their power in numbers as they effortlessly move through dramatic patterns and synchronized movements, and control the stage with their long tulle dresses and stoic expressions.

Although still appearing ethereal, watching the Wilis sweep the stage creates an eerie mood that builds as the ballet continues and they enclose on Albrecht. They are ruthless and hateful of men because they have all died of a broken heart. Giselle finds forgiveness in her heart for Albrecht, but she knows the Wilis will not do the same. Their goal is clear and they are relentless on their quest.

The Wilis are one of the most iconic characters in Giselle. They leave an imprint in the viewers mind as they dominate the second act.

Please subscribe if you like my video: https://www.youtube.com/c/PamBoehmeSi… and thank you for watching. Please feel free to share! Visit my blog at http://kindergiggle.blog for additional videos and more.

Sergei Polunin is a Ukrainian ballet dancer famous for his “once every hundred years” talent, his incredulous elevation, his impeccable technique, and glorious dramatic range. He brought an unprecedented new awareness to ballet when he danced in Hozier’s viral video ”Take Me To Church.” He starred in Diesel’s “Make Love Not Walls” campaign, and is a much sought after model and actor. He has appeared in such films as Murder On The Orient Express, Dancer (a documentary of his life), White Crow, and Red Sparrow.

Please consider subscribing to my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/PamBoehmeSi… and “like” my playlist “Sergei Polunin, Graceful Beast” if you were pleased.

For additional videos and more, visit my fan site at https://sergeipoluningracefulbeast.com

This is a ballet | балет iMovie by Pam Boehme Simon.

Thank you for watching.

Royal Opera House Opens New Exhibition 2010

Royal Opera House Opens New Exhibition 2010

October 21, 2010

Royal Ballet principal dancers Tamara Rojo and Sergei Polunin announce the opening of a new exhibition from Royal Opera House Collections and The Lowry, Manchester.  Tamara and Sergei are wearing the costumes from “Birthday Offering.”

“Birthday Offering” is a pièce d’occasion in one scene choreographed by Frederick Ashton to music by Alexander Glazunov, arranged by Robert Irving. The ballet was created in 1956, to celebrate the Royal Ballet’s 25th anniversary. The first performance took place on 5 May 1956 at the Royal Opera House, London.

Embed from Getty Images

“Passion De Deux” Natalia And Sergei

“Passion De Deux” Natalia And Sergei

Passion de deux: The explosive chemistry between Royal Ballet superstar Natalia Osipova and ‘bad boy’ dancer Sergei Polunin

passion de deux
Natalia Osipova with Sergei Polunin

My interview with Russian ballet star Natalia Osipova has not got off to the best of starts. 

So guarded is the darling of the Royal Ballet – who has now segued into modern dance with a risqué new show at Sadler’s Wells – about her love affair with Sergei Polunin, the brooding enfant terrible of dance, that I worry their relationship may be on the rocks.

Dubbed ‘the Brangelina of Ballet’, the two have been together for over a year now. They fell in love while dancing Giselle together in Milan, which sounds so sexy and romantic it makes me feel faint.

Their chemistry – on and off stage – seems quite explosive. I imagine they have fiery rows – and even more heated, er, reconciliations. But to my horror, Natalia says at first that she doesn’t ‘want to discuss our feelings for each other in public’. What?

The dancer, who turned 30 in May, is at pains to demonstrate how much she has grown since her relationship with Sergei began last summer – when, clearly in the throes of early passion, she made the gushing admission that they found it hard to be apart for more than two days.

Sergei – who left the Royal Ballet amid drama and allegations of drug-taking just before Natalia joined as a principal, giving their union a star-crossed twist – has said that he never wants to dance with anyone but Natalia again.

But the Natalia I encounter today – busily rehearsing a contemporary dance ensemble specially choreographed for her by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant and Arthur Pita (Sergei dances the latter two works with her), which will return to Sadler’s Wells later this month after a successful summer run and then transfer to New York – is altogether more composed than she has seemed before.

passion de deux
Natalia and Sergei performing in new dance piece Silent Echo at Sadler’s Wells in June

Despite having made London her home since 2013, Moscow-born Natalia still struggles with the language. ‘This is my biggest challenge. I need to study English and to learn it properly, but there is never the time,’ she sighs.

With the help of a translator, she explains how she has evolved of late. ‘I am a highly emotional person, confident and bold, but ruled by my emotions. I am capable of a sort of madness. If I am feeling emotionally charged, I could buy a ticket and move to another continent!’ she exclaims.

‘I am too spontaneous sometimes. But now that I am 30 I think I am becoming more balanced and getting better at thinking before I speak or act.’

Even just the way Sergei says ‘good luck’ can make me feel much better

Perhaps we can rewind a few months for the sake of this interview, I joke. I am not sure my humour translates. She has previously admitted that, due to their similar temperaments, she and Sergei have been known to clash.

‘We are two strong characters and at times this creates friction, but you learn to make compromises and to find ways of not arguing with your partner,’ she explains. ‘Sergei is a very fiery and emotional person, but he is emotional in a different way to me. I can’t quite explain it. We are different people, of course…’ She trails off, and I get the sense she is wading through verbal quicksand here, resisting the Brangelina-isation of them as a couple, while glorying in the loved-up state she has found herself in.

She doesn’t care what others might make of their relationship, she says. ‘I am sure there were people who had something to say on the matter, but I am not concerned about it.’

And though she is a self-confessed hot-headed leading lady, Natalia reveals that, when dancing with Sergei, she enjoys letting him take control. ‘As a very strong person, I have always tended to take the lead, but with Sergei, it is he who leads.

‘That is the dynamic that works best for the two of us. As a female it’s an interesting feeling and state of mind when the male can take charge on stage. It has been something new for me and I like it.’

passion de deux
 Natalia and Sergei performing in Run Mary Run by Arthur Pita, specially commissioned for them, at Sadler’s Wells in June

‘We are at a different point in our relationship now. We are very solid and open with each other. We understand that work is work and we both have to make professional decisions. We wouldn’t restrict ourselves to only dancing with each other, because it wouldn’t be the best decision for our careers.’

But wouldn’t she feel jealous watching Sergei dance with another? ‘On a personal level, it would be bad to see him with someone else, but professionally, no,’ she insists. ‘I am very lucky that I am not and never have been a jealous person.’

This trait must have come in handy when Natalia’s relationship with her former boyfriend, Russian ballet star Ivan Vasiliev, broke up shortly before she moved to London and took up with Sergei.

The pair had been the golden couple of the Bolshoi, but rumour had it (supported by Vasiliev’s own admission) that he left her for a younger dancer – ballerina Maria Vinogradova, to whom he is now married. (This scandal was referred to as ‘the Bolshoi love triangle’.)

‘I don’t listen to any gossip,’ Natalia says curtly. ‘Ivan and I have a good relationship. We are in close touch. We don’t see each other often, as we live in different places, but when we do it is very warm and fine. We have danced together since we split and I would happily do so again.’

For the moment, though, Natalia remains focused on dancing with Sergei in the independent Sadler’s Wells production, which represents a departure for her as a classically trained ballerina.

Staged in three parts, it involves a lot of strutting and shimmying, with costumes that could not be more unlike the restrictive, conservative ones worn in ballet.

The pair entwine themselves seductively in distressed jeans and T-shirts, perfect for showing off Sergei’s extensive collection of tattoos. ‘The less I wear, the more comfortable I am, so I loved this costume,’ says Natalia.

‘It felt so much lighter and freer than ballet clothes. The best part has been working directly with brilliant choreographers and creating amazing poses together. My body has had to get used to using different muscles, but I am loving it.’

And how does she feel about her paramour’s tattoos? ‘Actually, I like them,’ she giggles. ‘I think they reflect his personality quite organically. I am not planning to get any myself,’ she adds hastily. ‘I don’t think they would be suitable on my body.’

Lovers on stage and off, dancing their hearts out in denim, and a male lead who could be described as ‘a bit of rough’… comparisons to my favourite film, Dirty Dancing, are impossible to ignore.

Does Natalia feel a bit like Jennifer Grey to Sergei’s Patrick Swayze? ‘I love that film. It’s very iconic, but for some reason I never made this association.’

Like Dirty Dancing, Natalia Osipova and Guests, as the performance is titled (I wonder how Sergei feels about that), is about love.

‘It is set in the 1960s and about two people who are in love; the male character dies and she continues loving him [in one scene she tries to pull him from the grave]. It is deeply romantic, about love that surpasses death – not just love, but loyalty; about a woman who thinks she’ll never be able to be with anyone else.’

As a very strong person I tend to take the lead, but with Sergei it is he who leads

Given that Natalia commissioned the three pieces – each one written for her by a top choreographer (such is her star quality, they presumably jumped at the chance) – I can’t help but think that this gives an insight into the depth of her feelings for Sergei.

Having initially said that she didn’t want to discuss him, Natalia has let the word ‘we’ creep into her speech when discussing the man with whom she has shared a stage and now a life and a home.

‘We love Japanese food,’ she says in response to my question about what she likes to eat. ‘We just like to go to small local restaurants, nowhere fancy.’

 On a perfect weekend, ‘we like to walk around the canals in our neighbourhood of Little Venice and maybe visit London Zoo. We spend as much time outdoors as we can. We like to lie in bed as long as possible first, though, to feel fresh. Ideally, I would lie in until about 11am.

‘We like to cook together, although I am not a very good cook. Sergei is much better than me. He cooks mostly.’

It all sounds very domestic. Do they want children? ‘I think that should be the aim for every woman. That’s my point of view,’ says Natalia, somewhat cryptically. ‘We know each other’s families very well now too; there are good relations between the families.’

It was, in fact, through family that the two came together. Natalia is exceptionally close to her parents, who still live in Moscow, and tries to visit as often as her schedule allows.

‘I feel a huge responsibility to make them proud and pay them back for the sacrifices they made to allow my ballet career to happen. They were not well off – my father is an engineer and my mother doesn’t work – but they always found a way to give me opportunities, whether it be taking me to the theatre or finding money for dance lessons.’

Initially, Natalia was not drawn to ballet. She started out as a gymnast and it was her parents – presciently spotting her greater potential for dance – who insisted that she make the transition. ‘I wasn’t happy about it at first,’ she recalls, ‘but gradually I got used to it, and now I am so happy that I made that change and so grateful that they insisted.’

When Natalia was due to appear in Giselle in Milan in 2015 and her partner fell ill, it was her mother’s idea that she contact Sergei to see if he might stand in, so she sent him an email.

passion de deux
 Natalia and Sergei in Run Mary Run

‘He had at the time gone off by himself.’ (In a strop, so it was said, after spiralling into unhappiness and cocaine use, to explore a freelance career as a dancer/actor/model.) ‘My mother had seen him dance and suggested he might be a good pairing for me in this role.

‘That’s how it all started. I knew of his excellent reputation as a dancer. And as to his other reputations…it was his dancing that I chose to focus on and that made me write to him,’ she says diplomatically.

And was it love at first sight? ‘Yes. From the first meeting there were very strong feelings. We both understood there was something special.’

This attraction was palpable – and their performance so widely acclaimed that they will reprise the roles in a production of Giselle in Munich this month.

‘It was very emotional dancing with Sergei that first time,’ Natalia reminisces. ‘We came together as individuals, with our own experiences, and something a bit magic happened. I think the audience could feel it. It was emotionally very charged. I think they had a great time watching us in that show. Giselle is so romantic and will always be my favourite ballet.’

Natalia leads a highly regimented life as a dancer, with long days of rehearsals and few breaks. She has, like most top ballerinas, been dogged by injury. ‘This is part of my professional life and something I have to live with, but my injuries aren’t giving me too much grief at the moment.’

Though only 5ft 5in tall, with tiny bones, she feels that her body is oaf-like by dancing standards. ‘It has been a challenge,’ she sighs. ‘I have to be very strict with what I eat. I have nothing made of flour and no sugar. I eat mostly salads.’

NATALIA LOVES… 

Fashion failsafe For a red-carpet event, it has to be Alexander McQueen.

Film to curl up in front of I love Francis Ford Coppola and The Godfather, and Sergei’s favourite actor is Mickey Rourke, so we try to watch anything he is in.

Plan B I would be a painter. I love getting my paints out and am thinking of doing a course soon.

Style inspiration I love the actresses from bygone French cinema; I particularly admire Fanny Ardant.

Listening to Elvis Presley, Ella Fitzgerald and Otis Redding. We have a record player and their songs sound best on vinyl.

Go-to countries Israel was beautiful and fascinating. And Beijing has pandas – my favourite animal – in the zoo. I missed rehearsals to look at them.

Last meal on earth Spaghetti – because that is what I have to deny myself as a dancer.

Alternative dance partner Carlos Acosta is a genius and it is the greatest honour to dance with him. When I first joined the Royal Ballet he took so much time to make me feel welcome. He has a magnetism and a talent that is unsurpassed. 

Having a man in her life who understands the sacrifices required of her must make things easier? ‘I don’t know any different because my boyfriends have only been from the dance world, and it seems to have worked out pretty well so far,’ she says coyly. ‘It’s a nice feeling to be with someone who understands.’

Natalia once said she found pre-performance nerves so bad that she wanted to run away. Having Sergei by her side makes a difference.

‘With age, I have got better at managing the nerves. Now I know how to not let it get to that point. I arrive at the theatre much earlier and spend some time on the stage, living the life of my character before the show. That is really helpful.

‘ It’s such an individual state, so even Sergei can’t always help me, but it is great when he’s there beside me. He can try to calm me down. Even just the way he says “good luck” can make me feel much better.’

When I ask if Sergei would consider a return to the Royal Ballet, as some have speculated he might (it would, after all, make sense with her there), Natalia will only say, ‘I can’t answer that. It is a question for him. But he is an outstanding dancer and I think it would be really interesting if he did decide to.’

Either way, the pair intend to partner on stage as much as possible – even if not exclusively. ‘We want to find a way to do more together,’ Natalia reveals, sounding for a moment a bit too smitten, and then correcting herself.

‘I mean, I would like to think that of course we are professionals, so we would dance our best with anyone. It shouldn’t make a difference, but…it is such a special feeling to dance with the person you love.’

2015 Sunday Times Article About Sergei and Natalia

2015 Sunday Times Article About Sergei and Natalia

Sergei Polunin and Natalia Osipova: A Russian pas de deux mixing love and diva complexes

sergei and natalia

Sergei and Natalia are the Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor of the ballet world: beautiful, talented and unpredictable. As individuals, Sergei Polunin and Natalia Osipova are a box-office draw. Together — having just announced they are in love — their move into contemporary dance at Sadler’s Wells promises to be next summer’s hot ticket.

A new piece inspired by Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire, with Polunin as Stanley Kowalski and Osipova as Blanche DuBois, will be danced by the pair in their first move away from classical ballet. At a press conference last week Polunin, hailed as the greatest dancer of his generation, said modestly that Osipova was the talent. He hoped to be “a good add-on”.

He certainly will be — as long as he turns up. Polunin, 25, famously quit the Royal Ballet three years ago, saying “the artist in me was dying” and later vanished days before he was due to star in a production of Midnight Express. Is Sadler’s Wells brave to be taking him, or bonkers?

“A lot of ballet companies might feel a bit nervous about bringing him in,” admitted David Jays, the ballet critic and editor of Dance Gazette. “There’s always that ‘Will he, won’t he’ frisson. There’ll definitely be a soap-opera pull to the whole event.”

Osipova, 29, has had her own diva moment. In 2011 she resigned as a principal dancer at the Bolshoi Ballet, citing “artistic freedom” as her reason for leaving. She is currently a principal dancer with both the Royal Ballet in London — where she previously danced as a guest artist in Swan Lake — and the Mikhailovsky Ballet in St Petersburg. She is moving into contemporary dance, she said, because she wants to take on a new challenge while she is at the peak of her career.

“Lots of dancers look outside as they get older because ballet is hard but it’s interesting to see Osipova doing it this early,” said Jays. “Polunin has been restless for a while. He’s experimented with different companies, been talking about breaking into films and has made a short film with David LaChapelle [the American photographer].

“Osipova has danced the big roles with classical companies so I guess she’s looking for creativity and control. It’s becoming a trend among dancers. They’re not waiting to be cast, not waiting for people to come to them. Like film stars they are setting up their own production companies and directing their own careers: with real charisma and the public behind them they can set their own agenda.”

A love affair between Polunin and Osipova can only enhance the mystique that surrounds them both. Polunin is ballet’s rock star, a tattooed, tortured soul who has been trying to “find himself” — sometimes, to his bosses’ dismay, by staying up all night playing computer games — since his stellar career took flight.

sergei and natalia

Osipova has been part of a “Bolshoi love triangle”. Her previous boyfriend, Ivan Vasiliev, the dancer known as “sex on legs”, left her earlier this year for Maria Vinogradova, a rising star. Ballet fans assumed Osipova would be devastated, but her “intimate” performance of Giselle opposite Polunin at La Scala soon after (the ballet blogger Olga Agapova said: “At some moments I felt like a voyeur, watching something very personal”) sparked rumours they were more than dance partners . The speculation was confirmed as they sat happily together in London last week.

Polunin has introduced Osipova to his mother, Galina, which indicates not just his seriousness about her but a thaw in family relationships. It was Galina who recognised her son’s talent but he hasn’t always thanked her: he has sometimes seemed resentful at losing his childhood to the grind of ballet practice.

“I would have liked to behave badly, to play football. I loved sport but my family were working for me to succeed,” he once said.

He was born in Kherson, a port in southern Ukraine, and says his poverty-stricken parents saw his talent as a way of bettering themselves. At first he showed promise as a gymnast but when he contracted pneumonia and had to take an extended break, his mother moved him to ballet classes: “Some of my friends were going to dancing school and, when one of them was auditioning for a ballet school in Kiev, my mother saw an opportunity for me to do that, so we could move to a bigger, better city.”

In Kherson, he recalled: “Everyone was living in the same poverty and there was no hot water or electricity after 6pm. I had pocket money for good marks, but at some point I had to give it away for food.”

His father went to Portugal to work and his grandmother to Greece to help support them. He and his mother lived in one room for four years. London’s Royal Ballet School gave him a place at 13. By 20 he was the Royal Ballet’s youngest principal.

Osipova also showed early promise: aged eight she started her formal training at a leading Moscow ballet school and at 18 joined the Bolshoi. She was named one of “25 to watch” in 2007 by Dance Magazine and became a principal dancer at the Bolshoi in 2010 — then flounced out the following year.

Polunin complained last week that directors were not letting them perform together as he would wish: “For artists it is important to feel real emotions with your partner. It is very important to always feel you see the truth in the performance.

“It is not just with us, it has always been an issue and I do not understand why. When people love to dance together the directors do everything possible to separate them. I guess it’s so you don’t have too much power. It is easier to control people when you are separate.”

Monochromatique

Monochromatique

Sergei Polunin / Сергей Полунин “Monochromatique” with Kristina Shapran

Video: George Harvey and Garage Magazine

Alternative Music: Peace Within by Peter Rudenko

Thank you for watching. Feel free to share! Please subscribe to my Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/PamBoehmeSi… For additional videos and more, visit my fan site at https://sergeipoluningracefulbeast.com

Sergei Polunin is a Ukrainian ballet dancer famous for his “once every hundred years” talent, his incredulous elevation, his impeccable technique, and glorious dramatic range. He brought an unprecedented new awareness to ballet when he danced in Hozier’s viral video ”Take Me To Church.” He starred in Diesel’s “Make Love Not Walls” campaign, and is a much sought after model and actor. He has appeared in such films as Murder On The Orient Express, Dancer (a documentary of his life), White Crow, and Red Sparrow.

This is a ballet|балет iMovie by Pam Boehme Simon.




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