Natalia Osipova in rehearsal
Natalia Osipova in rehearsal

Natalia Osipova stars in new production of Carmen

Scottish audiences will be treated to seeing the thrilling Russian ballerina, Natalia Osipova, Principal of the Royal Ballet, in a brand new, contemporary dance production of Carmen.

The show will perform at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on December 17 and 18.

Multi award-winning Osipova will perform the title role of this classic tale in an exciting new version by internationally renowned choreographer and director Didy Veldman who has designed the production to be performed by five first class dancers – many of whom will be familiar to dance and ballet audiences. Joining Natalia in the cast are superstars Isaac Hernández and Jason Kittelberger, as well as emerging dance stars Hannah Ekholm, and Eryck Brahmania.

In March of 2020, Carmen was in the final stages of rehearsals when lockdown struck. For Natalia Osipova lockdown brought a break from a crazy performance and rehearsal schedule, her first real break since she started dancing professionally at the age of 17.

Natalia said: ‘After months at home you wonder how you can start dancing again, but you get back in the studio and you just do it. Dance is my life.’

For Isaac Hernández, who plays the dashing toreador Escamillo, lockdown meant cancelling plans and performances which was difficult to come to terms with.

Natalia Osipova in rehearsal

Isaac said: ‘I started streaming dance classes from my kitchen which really helped and gave me something to look forward to. It was a connection with the dance community despite the restrictions.’

The classes were viewed by several million people, one of whom was Natalia Osipova!

Bird & Carrot’s production of Carmen was ready to open but Covid-19 halted their plans. The company were not sure if the production could go ahead.

Natalia said: ‘I spoke with Alexandrina Markvo our brilliant producer and said we need to revive Carmen because it is an amazing concept with exciting choreography and we’ve worked so hard. We can’t say no.’

With new cast members and a new dynamic, two years on, the production has evolved and grown.

Producer Alexandrina Markvo said: ‘Natalia Osipova, her movement range, theatricality, voice and personality will be explored. I’d like the audience to truly get to know her, showing her strength, vulnerabilities, passion and insecurities on stage. When I look at Natalia, I can’t help but think of Carmen.’

Natalia was introduced to Director and Choreographer Didy Veldman by her husband and fellow cast member Jason Kittelberger.

Natalia said: ‘Jason has worked with Didy at Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet in New York. She is so sensitive and charismatic, her work is of particular interest to me.’

Didy Veldman said: ‘I am not interested in depicting the whole story. I am keen to make a movie on stage, with live footage depicting several scenes of Carmen which will include her sensuality, strength, a murder, some superstition and lots of passion.’

Using parts of the original Bizet score interlaced with newly composed music by Dave Price the sound world will be an exciting mix of past and present.

Jason Kittelberger and Natalia Osipova in rehearsal

For Natalia embodying a character like Carmen starts from within: ‘You have to understand the reasons behind a character’s actions, their personality and what they are trying to say to the audience. It’s your brain working with your soul in connection with your muscles. I use my body to create the language of Carmen.’

Isaac added: ‘Dance has no language barrier, you have to rely on your artistry rather than the technicality of your training to become more than a dancer to tell the story.’

Natalia concluded: ‘It’s fantastic to be back. We’re going to really enjoy seeing the Edinburgh audience reaction to this brand-new adaptation of Carmen.

‘There is always a risk in staging a new production, but we have such a talented cast and choreographer in Didy Veldman as well as an amazing team including British composer David Price and acclaimed stage designer Nina Kobiashvili. I’m sure it’s going to be good, even great!’

The World Premiere of the contemporary dance production of ‘Carmen’ will take place at the EICC in Edinburgh at 7.30pm on December 17– 18.

Tickets are available from