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Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev, London Coliseum, dance review: 'Guts and conviction but only glimpses of their talent'


Solo for Two brings together two of the most exciting dancers in the world, and doesn’t quite know what to do with them.

Ex-Bolshoi Ballet stars Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev test their range with a specially-created evening of contemporary work. They dance these new styles with guts and conviction, but we’re only getting glimpses of their talent.

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Mercy, developed from two earlier duets, starts with shocking violence. Vasiliev moves as if to hit Osipova – the punches stop inches short of her body, which crumples in pain. Horribly, the duet then becomes about Osipova teaching him tenderness, as if female forgiveness were the cure for domestic abuse. Both dancers give sculptural force to Cherkaoui’s steps.

In Ohad Naharin’s Passo, Osipova moves through generic stretchy moves with mercurial edge. When Vasiliev imitates her, he gives the steps a softer weight. They scamper about in hunched position, toddle on their knees and finally stamp through a folksy duet.

Arthur Pita’s Facada is the best of the night. Osipova is a vengeful jilted bride, burning her wedding dress and pursuing Vasiliev’s panicked groom with a knife. I’d have liked more dancing, but Pita’s drama and comedy do reveal his stars’ extraordinary charisma.

Until 9 August