In 2009, Russian ballerina Natalia Osipova made her debut with American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in Giselle. In what turned out to be a lucky break, the dancer scheduled to partner her as Albrecht was injured and David Hallberg stepped into the role. The onstage chemistry between the two was electric – Hallberg  has said that the experience was “like an explosion” – and one of the most celebrated ballet partnerships of our time was born.

Osipova and Hallberg went on to dance together at ABT, The Royal Ballet and Bolshoi Ballet in works such as The Firebird, Romeo and Julietand The Sleeping Beauty, their legendary partnership only growing in depth the more they danced together. So it was not surprising that Hallberg was the first dancer Osipova contacted when she began curating a program called Pure Dance – a mixed bill of solos and duets from classical ballet and contemporary dance, featuring several new works.

Natalia Osipova and David Hallberg in an excerpt from Anthony Tudor’s The Leaves are Fadingin Pure Dance, Sadler’s Wells Theatre, 2018, Photograph © Johan Persson

Hallberg immediately said yes. “To do a hand-curated program, and for us...