Natalia Osipova takes this tragic tale to new heights

The London Evening Standard: Giselle is the ideal role for Russian dancer Natalia Osipova

There have been thousands of performances of Giselle since its debut in 1841. You’d think there’d be nothing left to say about it but then along comes Natalia Osipova. The Russian 27-year-old is the Royal Ballet’s latest big signing, a former Bolshoi starlet who controversially jumped ship to the lesser-known Mikhailovsky Ballet and has now landed full-time in London.

As a dancer, Osipova is wise beyond her years, an intensely serious artist as well as a superlative technician. Giselle is the ideal role for her — the peasant girl who comes back to haunt the man who betrays her is a complicated, otherworldly heroine.

Osipova excels in the first act. On the surface Giselle is a simple country girl who loves to dance, jumping buoyantly and floating as weightless as a leaf on the breeze. When handsome Count Albrecht crosses her path (Carlos Acosta, charming as ever), she falls instantly in love. But in Osipova’s interpretation, the hints of her demise are there for us to see. She’s naive, vulnerable, a girl of delicate disposition, and a mix of joy, wonder, and fragility plays upon her face and infiltrates her dancing.

Her descent to madness and her ghostly appearance in Act II is not quite as spookily demented as when she played the role with the Mikhailovsky but her whole bloodless body tells the story of her fate, with her sloped shoulders and drooping neck. She is Romantic ballet’s ultimate supernatural sylph.