Tucked away in a rehearsal room in London’s Waterloo are two of the ballet world’s most exciting stars, Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova. They are rehearsing for their début in the Frederick Ashton version of Romeo and Juliet which will run for a week at the London Coliseum from July 11. They will dance at every performance.
Their on-stage chemistry has also had an effect offstage and they have now announced their marriage plans.
The Sunday Times went to talk with Vasiliev as the production reaches mid-point of its three week rehearsal period. Here are some extracts:
On being airborne:
In two seconds, I have thoughts about everything — about how I look on stage, or I see someone in the corps de ballet and think, ‘Be careful.’ For me, it’s normal. It’s like sitting or running.”
On his jumps:
When I was a boy, I didn’t have an incredibly big jump. I didn’t think about it. When I came to the Bolshoi, I thought my best piece is the pirouettes. I do many pirouettes — 10, 11, 21. I do 21 pirouettes one time in my life. I’m so happy! Then I try jumping, and everyone says it’s so good. But my pirouettes!”
On dancing Ashton:
It’s very emotional, a dramatic ballet with hard dance — a good mix. It’s like acting for the camera, small but dramatic. It’s interesting for me and Natalia because it’s something new. It’s good for us as artists, because artists must go up.”
On playing Romeo:
Of course we love jumps, and pirouettes, but, for me and Natalia, it’s not important. In the first place, it’s the emotion, it’s the dramatic roles. I can do double tours, triple sauts de basque, it’s no trouble for me. [But as Romeo] I can work here”, he points to his heart. “Three years ago, I think about Romeo, and I think, ‘Not yet. I’m not Romeo.’ But now I understand him, I feel him. Technique is work — you go to the studio and work and work — but what you feel is more important.”
On his engagement to Osipova:
Nobody in Moscow cares. Only our friends and parents. Why? Because it’s Moscow, it’s Russia. When somebody is happy, it’s not good.”
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.