London ballet fans, get excited: It was just announced yesterday that Natalia Osipova will join The Royal Ballet. Her first role will be Juliet opposite Carlos Acosta this fall. The only problem? She’s still on contract as a principal with both American Ballet Theatre and the Mikhailovsky Ballet. Although the Mikhailovsky director said she’d be warmly welcomed back to St. Petersburg for guest appearances, theartsdesk.com reports that ABT’s Kevin McKenzie did not hide his frustrations when he found out that one of his biggest stars had made conflicting commitments right in the middle of the ABT season.
Another interesting plot twist is the fact that Osipova’s fiancé, Ivan Vasiliev, is not part of her latest move. So far the ballet phenom has followed Osipova everywhere she went, leaving the Bolshoi for the Mikhailovsky when she did, taking on a contract with ABT when she did. For the past few years, the two have seemed like a packaged deal. This is the first time Osipova’s taken such a bold step on her own.
At the moment, her reasons are unclear to observers. The Royal’s repertoire isn’t all that much different from ABT’s (just swap in some McGregor for Ratmansky). It could possibly be the lure of London, where audiences adore her, and where she first emerged as a star with the Bolshoi. Maybe she simply wants to partner with Acosta. Or it might just be a case of wanderlust: When Pointe writer Elizabeth Kendall asked Osipova how she felt about leaving the Bolshoi last year, the star replied, “I don’t regret the decision. It feels much simpler and easier now without the Bolshoi. Maybe I’m that kind of person—not liking to be tied to one place.”