Dance review: The Mikhailovsky Ballet, London Coliseum

4.00

 

Even before she becomes a ghost, Natalia Osipova’s Giselle defies gravity. Running out from her rustic cottage, she hangs in the air with each glowing, skipping step. Osipova and her partner Ivan Vasiliev, two of the world’s most exciting dancers, headline a busy London season by the Mikhailovsky Ballet, a St Petersburg company whose international profile has soared in recent years.

When Vladimir Kekhman, a Russian fruit magnate, took over the theatre, he brought in talent on a lavish scale, with leading Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato as artistic director and high-profile dancers. Vasiliev and Osipova caused a flurry of headlines when they left Russia’s flagship Bolshoi Ballet for the smaller Mikhailovsky.

Though this is now their home company, Vasiliev and Osipova still look like guest stars, their dancing grand and expansive against the softer approach of the Mikhailovsky. They’re extraordinary, but it takes them longer to build excitement.

In fact, Osipova has toned down the radical Giselle she danced with the Bolshoi. Her betrayed village girl has fragile health, but is no longer racked by illness. She’s more outgoing, ready to tease her mother, though still shy with Vasiliev’s Albrecht. In her mad scene, a touch of sanity returns: she gives her mother a look of sympathy before her feelings overwhelm her again.

Vasiliev isn’t obvious casting as Albrecht. His sturdy thighs give him a glorious jump, but he doesn’t have long, elegant lines. He makes up for it with power, charisma and conviction, in dancing and in partnering. He has fine character moments, too: this nobleman is obviously proud of his peasant disguise, smoothing down his jerkin. He’s appalled by discovery, his shoulders frozen even as he tries to laugh it off.

In the second act, Osipova dances with ghostly chill, her limbs floating into long, long phrases. Her bounding jump becomes even airier; when she changes direction, she looks like a leaf suddenly caught by the wind. Yet there’s a manic edge to her speedy solos and gleaming footwork: this is a spirit driven by supernatural forces.

Nikita Dolgushin’s staging is straightforwardly pretty, with minimal mime and some hyperactive stage effects: the haunted forest will not keep still. The corps de ballet are brisk as peasants, with light, smooth dancing as the ghostly wilis of the second act. Ekaterina Borchenko is a long-limbed, ethereal Queen of the Wilis.

Until 29 March. Mikhailovsky season continues until 7 April. Box office 020 7845 9300

Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea