Title: Bolshoi: Coppélia; Blue Boy: Over the Edge
Author: Luke Jennings
Date: August 1, 2010
Publisher: The Observer
‘Effortless’: Natalia Osipova with Ruslan Skvortsov in Coppélia at the Royal Opera House. Photograph: Tristram Kenton
Natalia Osipova is one of those dancers, like the Royal Ballet's Marianela Nuñez and New York City Ballet's Ashley Bouder, who makes you feel twice as alive the moment she comes on stage, and theBolshoi's Coppélia is the perfect vehicle for her seemingly limitless talents. Square-cut, gamine and snub-nosed, Osipova is the flesh-and-blood village girl to whom her off-on boyfriend Franz (Ruslan Skvortsov) will never quite commit because of his fascination with a life-size doll whom he takes to be human.
Skvortsov is excellent, with his refined technique and stylish finish, and projects just the right degree of exasperating dreaminess. Forget your juvenile fantasy, you want to shout, as Osipova bounds across the stage, brimming with life and mischief – here's the real thing! Sergei Vikharev's production reconstructs the original 1870 Paris Opera version of the ballet, with its lovely Delibes score, but the emotions underpinning the story have a very contemporary resonance ("Dear Mariella, I've been seeing this boy for two years now, but…").
And the company frames the principal action perfectly. Osipova's girl gang are a joy, Gennady Yanin's Dr Coppélius a wonderfully nutty creation, and the third-act soloists impart just the right degree of joyous solemnity, particularly Ekaterina Krysanova's Dawn. But it's the Moscow-born Osipova, with her flying jetés and high, effortless line, who carries the performance. London loves her – she won the Critics' Circle award for best female dancer in 2008 – and she repays us with performances to make the heart race. Even her teacher, the redoubtable Marina Kondratieva, permitted herself a smile as the audience rose to its feet for Osipova's curtain call.
At the Barbican, meanwhile, Boy Blue gave us their new hip-hop showOver the Edge. Boy Blue productions tend to evolve as they go along, and this was very much a work in progress, with the technical fireworks in place – no surprise with dancers like Bradley Charles, Duwane Taylor and Rhimes Lecointe on board – but the narrative structure still a little on the hazy side. The story, by directors Kenrick Sandy and Michael Asante, concerns an average day in the hip-hop life, from a snap-crackle-popping breakfast, through alien abduction (and boy, can those aliens krump) to a night's clubbing. The show isn't 100% there yet – neither was their award-winning Pied Piper at this stage – but it's already a lot of fun. Watch this space.