She’s exploring similar territory to another ballerina, Sylvie Guillem, not least in Russell Maliphant’s Silent Echo, spinning through the shadows while Polunin shows off his ballet leaps.
The performers count out pencil beats in increasingly, impossibly quick succession until the rapid string of numbers sounds like lines of computer code or the digits of pi. It’s mesmerising.
Extraordinary backbreaking lifts – one man supporting the two others – and Osipova curling herself backwards into an almost perfect c-shape are just two of the highlights. The rising wail of Sufi singers adds to the heady, perfumed physicality.
Consummate storytellers, Cherkaoui and Osipova are well suited; his theatrical style gives her plenty of material to work with and her flawless control gives his movements a heightened feel.
It has its moments; there’s a great scene where she’s standing, lost and distraught, at the side of the highway, illuminated by passing headlights. And there’s a sweetly tender sequence on a swing.
There are outstanding moments – lifts in which her exceptional suppleness and strength create the illusion that she’s walking, flying or hovering over her partners’ bodies – but they leave us hungry to see more of what Osipova, and Polunin, might achieve.
Osipova becomes a kind of mesmeric predator, stalking the stage, her arms rippling, crouching and leaping, her loose hair and limbs whipping and scoring space.