Natalia Osipova’s Giselle flings us into the maelstrom of emotion that she resolves with an aura of serene compassion and unearthly forgiveness in the second act.  Her Giselle is an utterly engaging and very human young woman;  shy but passionate, fun-loving but vulnerable, and she sweeps us along with a conviction that sometimes even makes us forget that she is dancing.

She is well matched with Carlos Acosta’s Albrecht:  a charming, selfish young man, who probably seduces a girl in every village, and who indulges himself without compunction until confronted with the dreadful consequences of his actions.  If anyone deserves to be danced to death, he does.

Osipova is an outstanding technician who subordinates everything to the dramatic action.  Her astonishing elevation enables her to spring into the air and almost hover there without apparent preparation.  In the first act her jump expresses pure joy, and in the second gives the illusion that she might fly away.  Called from the grave she is a luminous wraith spinning in a swirl of tulle and barely touches the ground.

There were occasional (in my view, misguided) Bolshoi moments, as in the second act, when she took a slow vertical développé à la seconde, placing her foot at ear-level, but the way in which she is in perpetual motion, however slight, extending each pose into the next movement so that every arrival is a new beginning, is breathtakingly beautiful.  At times she seemed about to drift away from Acosta’s arms.

Peter Wright comments in the programme that Giselle is not like the other peasant girls, and Osipova is not like the other dancers, but her total commitment to the role brushes aside the differences in style.  They are unimportant, because she doesn’t make you think; she makes you weep.

Maggie Watson

29th January 2014