Natalia Osipova in Onegin. Photo by Tristram Kenton, courtesy Royal Opera House

Rested and Restless, Natalia Osipova Is Ready to Get Back Onstage Tomorrow Night

Her wedding may have been postponed because of the pandemic, her busy performance schedule wiped clean. But Russian-born superstar ballerina Natalia Osipova, a principal dancer with The Royal Ballet since 2013, is now getting ready to return to the stage after a seven-month hiatus.

She will be part of the company's celebration performance, The Royal Ballet: Back on Stage, featuring more than 70 dancers of the company plus the orchestra. It will take place on October 9 at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, broadcast live on-demand and available to view online for 30 days. The star-studded cast will also include Matthew Ball, Federico Bonelli, Sarah Lamb, Vadim Muntagirov, Marianela Nuñez and Edward Watson, among others, performing live in front of a socially distanced audience.

We recently spoke with Osipova about tomorrow night's performance, her life during the quarantine, her recent projects and future plans.

How does it feel to be back in the studio?

In the beginning it felt strange to enter the theater through a special entrance and not to be able to use dressing rooms, to wear masks and keep social distance from your friends and colleagues. But now, with nearly two months into rehearsals, it all seems normal. It's so wonderful to be back in the studio, to be able to move and jump and to feel the energy and the space.

Tell us about your performance in The Royal Ballet: Back on Stage program.

It's a solo from the ballet Medusa, which was created by Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui and premiered by The Royal Ballet in 2019. This ballet is based on Greek mythology, and my character is a beautiful priestess, Medusa, unjustly punished by the goddess Athena, who turns her into a monster. The choreographic style of Cherkaoui, with its flowing movements, expressive arm gestures and plasticity, is amazing; and it emphasizes the mythological nature of the story.

How was the quarantine for you? 

At first I actually felt quite good. For the last 15 years, I had a very busy schedule and there was never enough time to rest. And with the pandemic, everything suddenly stopped. So for the first month, I enjoyed sleeping in and relaxing. I bought a house with my fiancé (American contemporary dancer Jason Kittelberger) and we spent our time renovating, painting the walls and working in the garden. We have four dogs and I was very happy that I could spend more time with them.

But by the second month of the quarantine, I started to feel restless. The most difficult part was to realize that I was no longer free to go wherever I want. I am a very spontaneous person and we always come up with some spur-of-the-moment plans, like visiting friends or traveling on weekends to a different city or a country. The feeling of sameness, when every day felt like a "groundhog day," was very hard for me.

Osipova and Jason Kittelberger in "Six Years Later"

Johan Persson, Courtesy Royal Opera House

How did the pandemic affect your plans?

There were many performances that didn't take place because of the pandemic, including my debut in the role of Siren in George Balanchine's Prodigal Son and my own programs in South Korea and Japan. David Hallberg and I were scheduled to perform in Swan Lake with The Royal Ballet in March; and in Romeo and Juliet and Giselle with American Ballet Theatre in June. But now I am happy to be in the theater, rehearsing and getting ready for the performance. In a few days I am flying to Novosibirsk, Russia, where I will be dancing in Don Quixote and Giselle. It's a great opportunity to be able to dance in full-length ballets these days and maintain my form.

You danced the role of Tatiana in The Royal Ballet’s revival of Onegin in January. What is special about this role for you?

Tatiana is one of my favorite roles. I have known and loved Pushkin's poem since my childhood. I understand absolutely everything, every little detail, about Tatiana. I feel like I know her as well as myself.

You performed in a dance film, "In Her Hands," which was part of the Summer Shorts festival on Marquee TV in August. What was it like?

It was an interesting project, inspired by the relationship of French sculptor Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel, where I was able to work not only as a dancer but also as an actress; and I really enjoyed the acting component of it. A beautiful duet, which I am dancing with Matthew Ball, lies at the heart of this dance film. It was choreographed by Valentino Zucchetti, a dancer with The Royal Ballet who is also a wonderful choreographer.

Osipova on the set of "In Her Hands"

Julie Dene, Courtesy Royal Opera House

You are a classically trained ballerina. What attracts you in contemporary dance?

Unlike classical ballet, where every movement is carefully learned and rehearsed, with very little room for improvisation, in contemporary dance, every touch, every gesture is natural. When we embrace onstage, it feels and looks like a real embrace: It's an embrace between a real woman and a real man.

You so warmly describe your relationship with David Hallberg. What makes your partnership with him special?

We are two fundamentally opposite types of dancers, but David gave me some of my happiest moments onstage. He helped to awaken in me the feelings of femininity and love. I feel like he is part of my family, "my blood type," one of the closest people in my life. I always have him on my mind. Unfortunately, for various reasons, we didn't have as many opportunities to dance together in the past as we would have liked, but I still believe that we will be able to dance together, even if I am in London and he is artistic director of The Australian Ballet.

Do you think about forming your own dance company?

It's definitely my dream. I have always wanted to have a small experimental troupe, with maybe 20 dancers, who are versatile in neoclassical and contemporary styles. At this point I don't know when and where it's going to happen, but it's my ultimate goal.

What did you learn about yourself during the quarantine period?

On a personal level, I made a simple conclusion that there is nothing more important in life than having a close circle of family and friends who love you and care about you and staying connected with them during these times and knowing that they are healthy. And as a dancer, I realized that dance is a necessity in my life–something that I cannot live without.

Latest Posts

Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

2020 Stars of the Corps: 10 Dancers Making Strides In and Out of the Spotlight

The corps de ballet make up the backbone of every company. In our Fall 2020 issue, we highlighted 10 ensemble standouts to keep your eye on. Click on their names to learn more!

Dara Holmes, Joffrey Ballet

A male dancer catches a female dancer in his right arm as she wraps her left arm around his shoulder and executes a high arabesque on pointe. Both wear white costumes and dance in front of a blue backdrop onstage.

Dara Holmes and Edson Barbosa in Myles Thatcher's Body of Your Dreams

Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

Wanyue Qiao, American Ballet Theatre

Wearing a powder blue tutu, cropped light yellow top and feather tiara, Wanyue Qiao does a piqu\u00e9 retir\u00e9 on pointe on her left leg and pulls her right arm in towards her.

Wanyue Qiao as an Odalisque in Konstantin Sergeyev's Le Corsaire

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, Houston Ballet

Three male dancers in tight-fitting, multicolored costumes stand in positions of ascending height from left to right. All extend their right arms out in front of them.

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson (far right) with Saul Newport and Austen Acevedo in Oliver Halkowich's Following

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Leah McFadden, Colorado Ballet

Wearing a white pixie wig and a short light-pink tunic costume, a female ballet dancer poses in attitude front on pointe with her left arm bent across her ribs and her right hand held below her chin.

Leah McFadden as Amour in Colorado Ballet's production of Don Quixote

Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet

Maria Coelho, Tulsa Ballet

Maria Coelho and Sasha Chernjavsky in Andy Blankenbuehler's Remember Our Song

Kate Lubar, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

Alexander Reneff-Olson, San Francisco Ballet

A ballerina in a black feathered tutu stands triumphantly in sous-sus, holding the hand of a male dancer in a dark cloak with feathers underneath who raises his left hand in the air.

Alexander Reneff-Olson (right) as Von Rothbart with San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan in Swan Lake

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

India Bradley, New York City Ballet

Wearing a blue dance dress with rhinestone embellishments and a sparkly tiara, India Bradley finishes a move with her arms out to the side and hands slightly flexed.

India Bradley practices backstage before a performance of Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.

Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Bella Ureta, Cincinnati Ballet

Wearing a white dress with pink corset, Bella Ureta does a first arabesque on pointe in front of an onstage stone wall.

Bella Ureta performs the Act I Pas de Trois in Kirk Peterson's Swan Lake

Hiromi Platt, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Alejándro Gonzales, Oklahoma City Ballet

Dressed in a green bell-boy costume and hat, Alejandro Gonz\u00e1lez does a saut\u00e9 with his left leg in retir\u00e9 and his arms in a long diagonal from right to left. Other dancers in late 19-century period costumes watch him around the stage.

Alejandro González in Michael Pink's Dracula at Oklahoma City Ballet.

Kate Luber, Courtesy Oklahoma City Ballet

Nina Fernandes, Miami City Ballet

Wearing a long white tutu and crown, Nina Fernandes does a saut de chat in front of a wintery backdrop as snow falls from the top of the stage.

Nina Fernandes in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Miami City Ballet

Quinn Wharton

Pacific Northwest Ballet's Angelica Generosa Shares Her Classic, Comfy Style In and Out of the Studio

"I love the feeling and look of effortless fashion," says Angelica Generosa. Preferring a classic style, the Pacific Northwest Ballet soloist keeps her wardrobe stocked with blazers. But they serve a practical purpose, too. "It tends to get chilly in Seattle, so it's the perfect accessory for layering," Generosa explains.

She's also quite fond of designer handbags. "They're my go-to accessory, and they're also my weakness when shopping," she says, naming Chloé, Chanel and Dior as some of her favorite brands. "I really appreciate the craftsmanship it takes to produce one—they're so beautiful and each has its own story, in a way."

In the studio, Generosa prioritizes comfort, and she'll change up her look depending on the repertoire (leotards and tutus for classical works, breathable shirts with workout pants for contemporary). But she always arrives to work in style. "I really love putting together outfits for even just going to the studio," she says. "It's another way of expressing my mood and what kind of vibe I'm going for that day."

The Details: Street

Angelica Generosa, wearing a blue blazer, white blouse and gray jeans, is photographed from underneath as she walks and looks to the right.

Quinn Wharton

BCBG blazer: "It has some shoulder pads and a really cool pattern," says Generosa. "It reminds me of my mom and '80s fashion."

Zara blouse: She incorporate neutrals, like this white satin button-up, to balance bright pops of colors.

Angelica Generosa looks off to her right in front of a glass-windowed building. She wears a blue blazer, white blouse, gray jeans and carries a small green handbag.

Quinn Wharton

Madewell jeans: Comfort is a major factor for Generosa, who gets her fashion inspiration from her mom, friends and people she comes across day to day.

Chloé bag: "I tend to have smaller purses because I'm quite small. Bigger bags overwhelm me sometimes—unless it's my dance bag, of course!"

The Details: Studio

Angleica Generosa, wearing a blue tank leotard, black wool leggings and pink pointe shoes, balances in a lunge on pointe with her left leg in front, facing a wall of windows.

Quinn Wharton

Label Dancewear leotard: "This was designed by my good friend Elizabeth Murphy, a principal dancer here at PNB. Her leotards always fit me really well."

Mirella leggings: "I get cold easily," says Generosa, who wears leggings and vests to stay warm throughout the day.

Angelica Generosa, wearing a blue tank leotard, black wool tights and pink pointe shoes, jumps and crosses her right foot over her left shin while lifting her arms up to the right.

Quinn Wharton

Freed of London pointe shoes: "When sewing them, I crisscross my elastics and use an elasticized ribbon from Body Wrappers," which helps alleviate Achilles tendon issues, she says. She then trims the satin off of the tip of the shoe. "Then I bend the shank a bit to loosen it up and cut a bit off where my arch is."

Getty Images

This New "Nutcracker" Competition Wants Your Dance Studio to be Part of a Virtual Collaboration

Despite worldwide theater closures, the Universal Ballet Competition is keeping The Nutcracker tradition alive in 2020 with an online international competition. The event culminates in a streamed, full-length video of The Virtual Nutcracker consisting of winning entries on December 19. The competition is calling on studios, as well as dancers of all ages and levels, to submit videos by November 29 to be considered.

"Nutcracker is a tradition that is ingrained in our hearts," says UBC co-founder Lissette Salgado-Lucas, a former dancer with Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Joffrey Ballet. "We danced it for so long as professionals, we can't wait to pass it along to dancers through this competition."

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks