Backstage: No wedding bells for ballet’s Brangelina?


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The Independent Culture

Could it all be over for Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova – the ballet world’s best-known romance? The pair, who are thought of as the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie of the dance world, were engaged to be married, and last year gave a joint interview to i in which they said how much they loved “dancing together”, but I’m now told that they are no longer engaged. When I asked Vasiliev if he missed dancing with Osipova (they are no longer part of the same company), he was evasive.

“To be honest I have so much work today that I don’t have time to even think about it,” he told me over the phone from the US. And when I asked if he had seen her recent performances (her Giselle has been critically acclaimed), his reply was a simple “nyet”.

Whatever their status, it won’t be the last time the pair will dance together, as they are due to perform in Milan, Tokyo, Moscow, St Petersburg, New York and California in 2014.

And Vasiliev has reduced the chances of being linked to any other female dancers, as his new show, Kings of the Dance, which is coming to the London Coliseum in March, is an all-male affair. The production will see performances of select pieces designed to showcase the skills of the most talented male dancers, and draws from some of the world’s best-known figures, including Roberto Bolle from La Scala, Denis Matvienko from the Mariinsky, Leonid Sarafanov of the Mikhailovsky and Vasiliev’s American Ballet co-star Marcelo Gomes.

“It’s absolutely great working with my colleagues because this project has united dancers from different companies,” adds Vasiliev. “We’ve all created a very friendly atmosphere and while the relationships are competitive, everyone feels great.”

Before quickly clarifying the “competitive” bit. “Speaking about competitiveness in a project it does not mean we’re really competing,” he says. “It means we’re all looking to each other trying to become better than we are.”

It also doesn’t mean that there is no time to have fun.

“We always have time for partying and socialising,” he says, laughing. “We have known each other quite a long time… [But] the project has made us better friends.”

Ivan Vasiliev can be seen in Kings Of The Dance at the London Coliseum, 19 – 22 March. Box Office: 020 7845 9300/

Rich Hardcastle cooks up some career-changing Dark Tales

Rich Hardcastle’s new photographic show at the Mead Carney gallery on London’s Dover Street might not just be a sign of a change of direction in his photography, but also a career change – to film.

The Dark Tales exhibition draws upon his work as a celebrity photographer, but sees Hardcastle put his subjects in character – comic Ricky Gervais as a suicidal clown, male model David Gandy killing himself, and actress Hayley Atwell putting her arm in a sausage machine (and then eating a sausage) – which are all reminiscent of scenes from films.

“I’ve always wanted to make films,” he told me via email this week. “It’s something I’m getting more into. Idris Elba got me to be DOP [Director of Photography] on a music video he was directing after we’d done a shoot.

“He said exactly that, that my stuff was so filmic looking that surely I harboured ambitions to get into film.”

Some model spacemen don’t like it hot

Fellow photographer Tyler Shields asked his subjects to boldly go where few would want to for his new collection, Spacemen Dreams, which sees models dressed in astronaut outfits and shot in extra-terrestrial-like scenes.

“The joke the whole time we were shooting this series was ‘never question my patriotism’, as the heat index rose in the suit up to 130, 140 degrees,” he says of the show at the A Gallery in London. “But no one complained, instead they just believed for that moment that they had landed on another planet and they were doing a service to their country. I suppose that was the best way to justify the heat stroke and vomiting that took place.”