Tomorrow at 11 if you’re in New York, or at 5 in the afternoon if, like me, you’re in Milan, there is a chance to see a real ballerina in the cinema who has no dance-double and no stylised make-up. Natalia Osipova together with Ivan Vasiliev and the Bolshoi Ballet will perform Don Quixote live in high-definition. The New York Times talked by phone with Osipova about the event. Here’s an extract:
Q: Are you thinking about the cameras at all while you’re dancing?
A: I’ve been recorded several times, and I never think of the cameras once I’m onstage.
Q: Have you watched performances of yourself on video? Has it informed your performances at all?
A: Quite often I do. It is always different. Sometimes I watch myself on the screen and get pleasure from watching it and sometimes I watch myself on the screen and feel very negative and different emotions because it seems that what I’m doing is very, very bad sometimes.
Q: Is it strange to see everything so close? Is that how dance should be seen?
A: I think that the big close-ups aren’t so good for dance. I think it’s better to look at it from far away. When you look at the ballet, you shouldn’t be very close; you should have more. I think though it’s really wonderful to have such a big audience, and it will be a big pleasure for all of us that you’re doing just one performance and so many people around the world get the chance to see you, especially the people will get to see us in such a beloved production of our own theater.
Q: What about the makeup? Stage makeup can be a little freaky on screen.
A: Surely when we film we wear less. We don’t want to scare people.
Q: When you see ballet in a theater from far away, the ballerinas are supposed to look perfect and the dancing effortless, but when you see it up close, you can see how hard the dancers are working. Does this change that illusion?
A: Actually, the people who are filming us, we have to trust them, that they won’t film it in a way that it’s so obvious that we are sweating and working so hard. But the way we work, we don’t show how tired we are or how hard it is except backstage. Also, I think that’s why we have so many rehearsals, so that once we are onstage it won’t be visible what a hard job it is. The people don’t want to watch a hard job.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.