Segerstrom Center for the Arts (www.scfta.org) in Costa Mesa recently presented a special one night only dance gala, Tour de Force III. The event featured the very best in international ballet, including the much anticipated West Coast debut of the “James Dean of the dance world” Sergei Polunin,who performed with partner Natalia Osipova in Russell Maliphant’s Silent Echo.
Held on Saturday, August 27 in Segerstrom Hall, the gala evening, produced in collaboration with Ardani Artists, included four works, including Silent Echo, Clay by Vladimir Varnava, Tristesse by American Ballet Theatre star Marcelo Gomes and Philipp Stepin in Le Divertissement du Roi. The event’s international cast included Joaquin de Luz, Marcelo Gomes, Denis Matvienko and Friedemann Vogel, as well as members of The Royal Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada.
Natalia Osipova and Sergei Polunin have been called dance’s Golden Couple. Osipova has performed at Segerstrom many times, including in both Tour de Force I and II, Reflections (2011) and Solo for Two (2014), that featured works commissioned for her and Ivan Vasiliev. Osipova and Polunin danced the world premiere of Russell Maliphant’s Silent Echo in June of this year at Sadler’s Wells. Silent Echo is a preview of a complete program titled Natalia Osipova and Artists that will be premiered at New York City Center in November 2016.
Ukrainian born Polunin joined the British Royal Ballet School in 2003 at age 13. He became a First Soloist at the Royal Ballet in 2009 and in June 2010, the Royal Ballet’s youngest ever Principal. In 2012, he became a principal dancer with The Stanislavsky Music Theatre and Novosibirsk State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. He has received numerous awards, including gold medals in the Prix de Lausanne and the Sixth Lifar International Ballet Competition, Young British Dancer of the Year, the Youth America Grand Prix, Critics’ Circle Outstanding Male Performance – Classical and Rising Star and nominations for Critics’ Circle Best Male Dancer and Russia’s Golden Mask. Polunin was named best male dancer for the 2014 National Dance awards in the United Kingdom.
Tour de Force III served as a great introduction to the recent West Coast premiere of the film Dancer, an immersive personal portrait of Polunin. The film, that delves into the life of the complex young man who made ballet go viral, includes the exclusive clip “Take Me to Church,” choreographed by Jade Hale-Christofi and directed by David LaChappelle.
Dancer is directed by Academy Award nominee Steven Cantor and produced by Oscar nominee Gabrielle Tana (“Philomena”). The film recently screened at several exclusive events in Los Angeles, featuring artist Q&As moderated by dance expert Debra Levine, publisher of the popular blog arts●meme (www.artsmeme.com).