10 Minutes With Ivan Vasiliev

June 30, 2014

On his new duet program with his ex, Natalia Osipova.



Photo by Stas Levshin, Courtesy Sergei Danilian


From Moscow to Milan to New York, international guest star Ivan Vasiliev is always on the move. In addition to being a principal with the Mikhailovsky Ballet and American Ballet Theatre, he remains a principal guest artist with the Bolshoi Ballet. This summer, he will reunite with former fiancée Natalia Osipova for their new duet project, Solo for Two, which premieres at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California, July 25–27. On the program is Roland Petit’s sultry Carmen and new works by sought-after choreographers Ohad Naharin and Arthur Pita.


How did this program come together?

I worked with Roland Petit on L’Arlésienne and Le Jeune Homme et la Mort before he died, and I have huge respect for him. I think he is a genius—one of the best choreographers in the world. We once talked about Carmen as another ballet of his I might be able to dance, and he said, “Of course you can do it. You can dance everything.” We are learning it with Luigi Bonino, who was Petit’s assistant, and José Manuel Carreño is letting us use the corps of his Ballet San Jose.

We went to Israel to start the creation with Ohad and will work with both him and Arthur in California before the premiere. We’ll have to see what we can do together. You never know if it will be good, but I love to try something new.

How has it been working with Natalia Osipova since you broke up?

There is no problem, no tension. It’s just life. We’ll see if we keep working together after this project.

You also perform with Kings of the Dance, which has been called narcissistic in the press.

I don’t understand it. It’s not for one man, it’s for a group. One dancer alone could do nothing in this project. We’re a team—like The Avengers!

I hear you’re releasing a volume of poetry. When do you find time to write?

I have a lot of time to write because I have long flights! My main inspiration is Russian poet Sergei Yesenin. We don’t have a title for the book yet, and I write only in Russian. Maybe next year I’ll try in English.


Above: Osipova and Vasiliev in rehearsal. Photo by Rose Eichenbaum, Courtesy

Do you still work with your Bolshoi coach, Yuri Vladimirov?

Yes. It was difficult to leave him. I was like a child when I joined the Bolshoi, and he taught me what life in the theater means. He’s like my ballet father, and whenever I come back to Russia I rehearse with him.

In Solo for Two, do you ever miss being part of a company, with a corps around you?

No. You can always dance La Bayadère or Don Quixote, but with these projects we’re creating something new, something different. If we need a corps de ballet, we can find a corps de ballet.