Adelaide Festival

Festival Review: Two Feet

Two Feet brings world-class classical ballet to Adelaide, led by legendary Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova in what is a triumphant solo performance.

A triumphant solo performance

Reviewed at Dunstan Playhouse on 2 March 2019

Presented by Adelaide Festival

Two Feet brings world-class classical ballet to Adelaide, led by legendary Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova in what is a triumphant solo performance.

As the show opens with the echoing sounds of an old-fashioned wind-up music box, the curtains slowly part to reveal a life-size, twirling ballerina covered in tulle, fermenting a moment of childhood reminiscence. From here Two Feet leaps into a humorous ballet skit of a young girl learning the steps of a youthful ballet routine called “Shrimping”. Osipova’s marvellous comedic ability to take on the character of an ambitious, strong-headed and somewhat clumsy young girl stirs the audience to fits of laughter.

From here, Two Feet continues through a variety of scenes that range from more humorous skits involving Osipova learning new dance moves encumbered by shoes that are too big, to more serious pieces that reflect the darker elements of the ballet genre. For those who are not ballet aficionados, some scenes that revolve around repetitive plies and barre work may seem tedious, however these are moments where it’s truly worth focusing solely on the movements, and the strength and poise they take to achieve.

At various points throughout the show old photos of Osipova as a young ballet dancer and moving memories of early dance classes are projected onto the background, creating a more personal link with the lead performer. These are followed by a procession of dance-step maps for routines like the lively tango, followed by classical illustrations of an array of dancers which provides an immersive historic experience for the audience.

First performed in 1988 at the World Expo, Two Feet was created by famed Australian Ballet alumna and revered choreographer Meryl Tankard. This performance is a combination of biographical moments within her life as a ballet dancer including weight issues and the often-torturous rigours ballet commanded, as well as an ode to Olga Alexandrovna Spessivtseva whose drive for perfectionism drove her to insanity.

The solo star of Two Feet is Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova, a legendary principal artist with the Royal Ballet in London who was recently ranked among the dozen greatest female dancers of all time. It is clear to see why Osipova has risen to the top of her field with her extraordinary levels of flexibility, physical strength, poise, balance and precision – all the necessary factors that make up great ballet dancers.

The array of costumes throughout the show are visual highlights that complement each dance and its individuality. For her more serious routines, Osipova glides about the stage wearing a white, voluminous costume reminiscent of Swan Lake and then a full-length, slinky metallic dress which follows the dancer’s every move. In the humorous bursts of Osipova’s earlier dancing experiences she wears youthful outfits suitable for a young girl, as well as a comical dress made of green tulle covered with fairy lights for a short dance skit that involves the Russian version of Jingle Bells.

Two Feet showcases the impressive singular talent of Osipova, bringing the audience to a roaring applause and standing ovation. Ballet fans will understand and appreciate this world-class dancer’s skills and Tankard’s imaginative autobiographical choreography, while those new to this elegant genre will find themselves mesmerised by the wonderment of ballet.

Reviewed by Georgina Smerd
Twitter: @Georgie_xox

Venue: Dunstan Playhouse
Season: 1 – 5 March 2019
Duration: 120 mins (15 minute intermission)
Tickets: $45 – $109


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