"For truth to tell, dancing in all its forms cannot be excluded from the curriculum of all noble education: dancing with the feet, with ideas, with words, and, need I add that one must also be able to dance with pen- that one must learn how to write." Friedrich Nietzsche
Impressions of: Natalia Osipova & Artists with Sergei Polunin at New York City Center
New York City Center
Thursday, November 10, 2016 - 8:00pm
Pictured above: Natalia Osipova, Jason Kittelberger and James O'Hara in QUTB by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.
A full house was held for ten minutes before the curtain opened on choreographer Arthur Pita's Run Mary Run with sets and costumes by Luis F. Carvalho. A 1960's melodrama with music by THE SHANGRI-LAS and others, the work started with two hands sticking out of a dirt heap. After the two hands performed a dance, Osipova got up from the grave wearing rags that she quickly shed to reveal a bright henna beehive and a shiny green dress. Polunin, dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, eventually got up as well and the two performed clever shenanigans with a cigarette, a vodka bottle and cup (in this delightful stunt these Russians proved to be masters), and shooting up (presumably) heroin with a needle in the arm. Oh, there was a swing. The novelty was that he pushed her on it not back and forth, but side to side. They danced a bit and I almost forgot to mention that their characters were named Mary and Jimmy. Then they died. My friend liked it. I liked that they died.
At first only intermittently visible, Osipova and Polunin returned in pools of light and darkness in Russell Maliphant's Silent Echo. I wish this work had been shown in silence rather than with the dull musical accompaniment that weighed it down. Beautifully sculptural in every pose, these masters of classical technique are trying to embrace new movement styles and look stunning in the process.
Fragments developed into phrases and progressed into dance segments. That's where it ended. It could be seen as a metaphor, because surely Osipova and Polunin are still at an evolutionary stage of their dance partnership and are testing foreign waters by commissioning contemporary work. Hats off to Ms. Osipova for dancing outside her comfort zone. Her extraordinary talent will be a gift for imaginative choreographers who are not afraid to nurture her artistry.