The Russian ballet dancer wowing audiences at London’s Royal Opera House

Natalia Osipova is a Principal of the Royal Ballet in Covent Garden and a dancer whose performances regularly sell out months in advance.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (REUTERS) – Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova, who is in her second season as a Principal at the Royal Ballet in London, continues to wow audiences at sold-out shows.

Her performance in “Giselle” in 2014 was critically acclaimed, landing her the Critics’ Circle National Dance Awards prize the following year for Outstanding Female Performance (Classical) in the lead role.

But her rapport with British audiences first began ten years ago when she arrived in the capital as an 18-year-old dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet.

In a recent interview with Reuters in London, Osipova spoke about dancing on the Royal Opera House stage in a lavish Bolshoi production of “Don Quixote”.

She said it was on that tour that British audiences and the rest of the ballet world took notice of her talents.

“They have come to love me. It was a big and beautiful production (of the ballet “Don Quixote”) and it was after this that my career took off – the production had a big impact because the reviews were so positive and these were noticed all around the world. I can say that this ballet marks the start of my career here. So, that was when they started to love and appreciate me. Since then, every time I dance in London, I have to prove that I deserve their love so I aim to make my performance beautiful and interesting,” recalled Natalia Osipova, as she sat in her small dressing room at the Royal Opera House.

She recently debuted in the role of Tatiana in the “Onegin” choreographed by John Cranko. The critics have unanimously applauded the ballerina, praising Osipova’s “dramatic intelligence”, her “on stage intensity”, and her ability to bring “natural feeling” of improvisation to the role.

Perhaps aware of the plaudits, Osipova pointed out that those dramatic roles for her mean a lot more than just acting on stage.

“The roles that I perform on stage – I live them, I can’t just act them. I’m always telling my mother that I’m probably a poor actress. So when it doesn’t click for me and I don’t feel that I can really get into the role and live it on stage, then the performance for me doesn’t feel natural and it’s not like how I want it,” she said.

Osipova first danced for the Royal Ballet in 2012 as a guest artist in a production of “Swan Lake”. She became a Principal at the Royal Ballet in 2013. The varied repertoire, despite its demands on the dancers, was one of the reasons she joined the company.

Osipova said she has worked hard to develop her fearless technique. She commented that she likes to take risks when dancing: “Yes, I take on complicated and difficult things (in dance). But I know for sure that at the moment when I step on the stage, the main thing for me is not to have any doubts, even for a second, that I cannot do it. I have had such moments before when I have been shaking and thinking well now here, now I cannot do it and you know this internal struggle and an instant of fear inside and as a result one couldn’t achieve it. Now, when I go on stage, when I am prepared to do a difficult fouette or a variation, I go for it being absolutely confident and I know that I can do it very well and I won’t have any problem with it.”

Admirers might think that a world-renowned ballerina, who regularly dances to packed houses, would not suffer from pre-show nerves, but Osipova says she does get anxious.

“The feeling of fear I have always before a performance starts, it’s just unbearable. In general people think that we don’t perhaps worry but I find, as I’m getting older, I worry even more. Sometimes I get to a point that I just want to jump into a taxi and run away before a performance starts…of course I don’t do that in reality but this feeling really annoys me.”

Osipova still maintains a packed schedule though. She has appeared as a guest artist with ballet companies around the world. In spite of the global attention, Osipova told Reuters she always strives for sincerity and honesty on stage.

“I believe that there are a lot of dancers who are better than me. But if audiences love me, probably then there is something about me. It seems to me that maybe I’m loved for my sincerity…and it’s true I am trying to be very sincere and honest on stage and when sometime I can’t achieve this then it feels unpleasant for me. It seems to me, I would even add, that on stage I’m more real than in life. In real life I play more – that’s what I think.”

So what’s next in store for the star dancer? She wants to focus on contemporary roles and work with new choreographers.

“Over the last ten years I have danced a variety of roles. Now, I want to focus on the things for which I have a special talent – psychological & dramatic roles or contemporary dance for which it seems to me I have a great ability. Right now, there are many interesting choreographers and there are so many things happening around and for me I really want to try it all and I think that from classics I will gradually retreat further.”

Osipova’s next role sees her perform in Frederick Ashton’s “La Fille Mal Gardee” – a romantic comedy ballet that follows the story of a country beauty who falls for a young farmer. This Royal Ballet production will be staged in Covent Garden on April 16.