Ballet superstars Ivan Vasiliev and Natalia Osipova are about to embark on a special program called Solo for Two in Southern California. Commissioned by the Segerstrom Center for the Arts with Ardani Artists, Solo for Two will consist of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's Mercy, Ohad Naharin's Passo and the world premiere of Arthur Pita's Facada. Vasiliev spoke recently with The World Dances about the upcoming performance, his meteoric rise to fame, and his goals for the future.
How have your dancing, work process, and/or sense of self changed since skyrocketing to such fame?
I am 25 years old, and in some ways that is very young. But, in ways, I personally feel older because I have been fortunate enough to have done so much in my career already and I am still learning. I am very flattered by the recognition, respect and love of people around the world.
You are such a coveted guest artist and have traveled extensively. What’s it like performing in so many countries and what do you get out of the experience?
The dance world is very much the same wherever you go. There is not much difference in the repertory. On the other hand, that is also the reason I, and other dancers, are always looking for something really special and new—new challenges. I am always learning from different countries, companies and choreographers. I am lucky to have such a wonderful combination of experiences to help bring out my best.
What's been your favorite part of preparing for Solo for Two? And what’s been the most challenging?
The whole program is so unique and exciting for Natalia and me. I can’t say this part is my favorite or another part is my favorite. Working with Ohad Naharin in Tel Aviv, taking Gaga classes with his dancers, has been an unforgettable experience. During our first rehearsals with Arthur Pita in Milan, I fell in love with his work. This project is a dream. I am so grateful to our agent Sergei Danilian and Segerstrom Center for commissioning these works and making it possible for us.
How have you found the process of working with the choreographers involved in this project? What are the challenges in learning the different styles and how do you adapt?
For Natalia and me, our regular seasons were over and it was very important for us to begin rehearsals immediately on these new works. It’s like we’ve been learning new languages, and believe me, it hasn’t always been easy. But it was very important to be open for something new. Mentally we were prepared, but physically it took time for us to adjust to these new dance languages. We decided it would be best to mix it up -- one day do mix classes, one day Gaga style, other day barre, etc. That way we’ve been able to adjust ourselves to the different styles and demands of all three choreographers more productively.
What do you hope to do next?
I hope I can dance more new ballets and work with living choreographers to learn and achieve more. Our life on stage is so short. In the meantime, I am exploring different fields, such as poetry and acting. Hopefully when the time comes to finish dancing, I will be ready.
See Solo for Two at Segerstrom Center for the Arts July 25-27. Tickets are available here.