A week ago we were thrilled to record for Sky Arts Natalia Osipova’s trio of new contemporary dances at Sadler’s Wells. Osipova was joined on stage for two of the pieces by Sergei Polunin, which was the first time that they have danced together in the UK. The programme will be transmitted as part of the Hot Ticket strand on Sky Arts on Monday 18 July. Inspired by Osipova, the dances were commissioned by her from the leading contemporary choreographers Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Russell Maliphant and Arthur Pita. Produced by Sadler’s Wells these performances marked the world premiere of each piece, and they will be seen again at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh as part of the 2016 Edinburgh International Festival from 12 – 14 August 2016.
The following notes come largely from the Sadler’s Wells press release for the evening. I’ll write more next week about the recording, which was screen directed by Ross MacGibbon and produced for Illuminations by Lucie Conrad:
Natalia Osipova is a Principal with The Royal Ballet. She joined the company in 2013 after her guest appearance in Swan Lake, and has performed lead roles in Giselle, Don Quixote, The Nutcracker,La Fille mal gardée and DGV: Danse à grande vitesse. She has created roles in Wayne McGregor’sTetractys and Woolf Works, and Alastair Marriott’s Connectome. She started her formal ballet training at the age of eight, before joining the Bolshoi Ballet at the age of 18. She has also danced with American Ballet Theatre and Mikhailovsky Ballet.
Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist and Artistic Director of Royal Ballet of Flanders Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui creates Qutb, a new trio for Osipova and two male dancers, Jason Kittleberger and James O’Hara (above). Qutb features Cherkaoui’s trademark alchemy of movement vocabularies, musical genres and cultures with lighting designed by recent Knight of Illumination winner Fabiana Piccoli and a soundscape designed by Felix Buxton from Basement Jaxx. Cherkaoui will also work with Japanese costume designer Kimie Nakano, a frequent collaborator with Akram Khan Company.
Cherkaoui has created more than 20 works including zero degrees, Babel, Sutra and m¡longa and is acknowledged as one of Europe’s most exciting choreographers. He continues to work with a variety of theatres, opera houses and ballet companies from around the world including Dutch National Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, GöteborgsOperan Danskompani, Bunkamura Theatre Cocoon in Tokyo and Stuttgart Ballet. Cherkaoui received international acclaim for his choreography in Joe Wright’s feature film Anna Karenina (2012).
Russell Maliphant creates a new duet for Osipova and Sergei Polunin. The piece features lighting by Maliphant’s long-time collaborator and Knight of Illumination award-winner Michael Hulls. Hulls, a Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist, also received an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance in 2014. The new work features a soundtrack from UK composer and sound artist Scanner.
Maliphant is one of the longest-standing Associate Artists of Sadler’s Wells. He trained at the Royal Ballet School and graduated into Sadler’s Wells Royal Ballet Company before leaving to pursue a career in independent dance. As a dancer he worked with companies such as DV8 Physical Theatre, Michael Clark Company, Laurie Booth and Rosemary Butcher. He also studied anatomy, physiology and bio-mechanics. He became certified as a practitioner of the Rolfing Method of Structural Integration in 1994, which has subsequently informed both his teaching and choreographic work.
Throughout his career Maliphant has set works on renowned companies and artists including: Sylvie Guillem, Robert Lepage, The Ballet Boyz, Lyon Opera Ballet, Ricochet Dance Company, CobosMika, The Batsheva Ensemble, and Ballet de Lorraine. He has been the recipient of several awards including two Olivier Awards, a Critics’ Circle National Dance Award for Best Choreography (Modern) and a South Bank Show Award.
The final part of the evening sees Royal Opera House regular Arthur Pita create a new duet for Osipova and Polunin entitled Run Mary Run. Pita crafts a dark, comedic story for the pair, highlighting Osipova’s natural gift for acting. The work features a soundtrack from The Shangri-La’s, The Crystals and David Lynch, mixed by Pita’s long-time collaborator Frank Moon. Pita and Osipova previously worked together on Facada which was seen at the London Coliseum in 2014 as part of Solo for Twoand featured Osipova dancing with Ivan Vasiliev.
Pita has also choreographed movement for plays, operas and musicals, including Women Beware Women at the National Theatre, Becky Shaw at the Almeida and La Bohème and Show Boat at the Royal Albert Hall. His production of The Little Match Girl received rave reviews at its premiere in 2014, and returned to Sadler’s Wells’ Lilian Baylis Studio for the 2015 Christmas season. Pita recently premiered new work Cristaux, part of a triple bill for Ballet Black at the Barbican.