Natalia Osipova, ballerina

Even in a crowded field of remarkable Russian ballerinas, Natalia Osipova stands apart, a feisty thoroughbred with sensitive artistic gifts. As Kitri in "Don Quixote" this dark-haired pixie caused jaws to drop when she rocketed to heights one expects from the male lead. Her every movement looks utterly spontaneous, an in-the-moment style of dancing that puts the viewer on notice. If you blink, you might miss something extraordinary. Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev, her equally remarkable partner and fiancé, shook up the dance world in November when they left the Bolshoi Ballet to join Russia's upstart and lesser-known Mikhailovsky Theatre (the new home of artistic director Nacho Duato). Osipova will have time to be a guest star with other companies, including American Ballet Theatre. She is one of three women tapped for the role of the eponymous Firebird in Alexei Ratmansky's new version for ABT. It will have its world premiere March 29 to April 1 at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. --Laura Bleiberg
Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
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