The atmosphere was buzzing the night Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev opened Don Quixote. It was inevitably a full house, with only two performances of their signature ballet programmed as part of the Mikhailovsky Ballet‘s London Coliseum Season [26 March to 7 April]. Many people I knew were in the audience, from friends sharing my excitement to Royal Ballet Principal Sarah Lamb, who I spotted sitting nearby.
Following a mime prologue the audience warmed to the colourful spectacle of Barcelona, taking our minds off the freezing Easter weather outside. Festivity filled the air with cheerful Spanish dancing, escalating our anticipation to when the two stars were to burst on to the stage.
The moment Natalia and Ivan made their appearance I was unable to take my eyes off them. The energy they displayed was mind-blowing. Spectacular leaps seemed to hover in the air and their never-ending speedy turns were astonishing. They were consistently interacting with each other and I have never seen two dancers using as much facial expression as they did; vital in the roles of Kitri and Basilio.
Natalia and Ivan loved every second of being on stage and were throwing themselves into the choreography. It was delightful to watch. Their fun relationship in the ballet was enforced by the one they have off stage as husband and wife, and their mutual trust was evident. The corps dancers were impressive and performed in perfect sync, Kitri’s Friends danced brilliantly and Don Quixote was humorously played by Marat Shemiunov.
It was the first time I’d seen Don Quixote live and despite not having the strongest storyline it had some very entertaining moments, including the appearance of a heroic white horse and a well-behaved donkey! Thrilling orchestral accompaniment combined with the leading couple’s talent often made me gasp and raised goose-bumps on my arms. This dynamic and uplifting ballet showcased their abilities perfectly.
Credit is due too, to the entire company who did a wonderful job. I appreciate how many hours of hard work and dedication go into putting on a three-act ballet. This performance was unforgettable; a vivid image of Ivan and Natalia will always stay with me.
The performance ended on a high with the famous pas de deux. The curtain calls went on for over ten minutes and the audience were on their feet, throwing flowers and roaring with praise. It is hard to put into words how incredibly engaging Osipova and Vasiliev were – you had to be there. It was a joyous privilege to see them dance. Thank you Cheryl.