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Natalia Osipova and Jonathan Goddard on new dance adaptation, 'The Mother'


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‘The Mother’, a dance production which is based on Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Story of a Mother’, premieres in Edinburgh this week for a two-performance run. Starring Natalia Osipova and Jonathan Goddard, and directed and choreographed by Arthur Pita, the production aims to capture the fascinating portrayal of motherhood in Anderson’s tale.

Ahead of this Friday and Saturday’s showings of ‘The Mother’, The National Student catches up with the production’s highly-acclaimed stars, Osipova and Goddard.

Image: Rehearsals for The Mother, EICC, courtesy of Anastasia Tikhonova

Osipova says that she was “immediately gripped” by Andersen’s story.

“At first, I thought Andersen’s fairy tale was strange as it’s dark and scary at times,” she says. “However, when we started working, I realised that this is incredibly interesting, and I feel I will never be able to do a role like this in the classical ballet theatre.”

Having both worked with Arthur Pita before, Osipova and Goddard both describe feeling “excited” by the opportunity to work with him again on ‘The Mother’.

“As a choreographer,” says Goddard, “Arthur helps us to find ways to open up spaces for the characters and choreography to emerge.”

Image: The Mother, EICC, courtesy of Anastasia Tikhonova

Describing it as “a great pleasure” to work with Pita again, Osipova tells us, “[his] choreography always helps [me] to understand and portray the character with all her psychological nuances and feelings.”

With a small team of people behind the production, the creative process of ‘The Mother’ has been collaborative throughout.

“It’s teamwork,” says Osipova. “We have a choreographer, set designer, composer, myself and my dancing partner and we’re all part of the big collaborative process.”

Considering the benefits of working collaboratively on a production with only two dancers, Goddard says, “There are only two of us in this piece, so Arthur is very much working to play to our strengths as performers.

“We are always playing with and developing the world. I think it’s important to feel that the narrative things we are portraying to the audience seem spontaneous; that’s what makes an evening feel alive and keeps the show fresh.”

Image: The Mother, EICC, courtesy of Anastasia Tikhonova

Portraying “a dramatic role as well as a dancing role”, Osipova considers the biggest challenge of this dance adaptation to be the numerous theatrical techniques in the production. Goddard, on the other hand, says that the aspect he finds most challenging is “probably the amount of character changes”.

I am playing Death throughout the show, but in many different guises,” he explains. “I play seven characters over the evening, some male some female; this means many costume quick changes and lots of challenging footwear!”

With the compelling, theatrical aspects of ‘The Mother’, Osipova hopes that audiences “will love the journey to this dramatic world of Andersen’s fairy tale”.

Goddard describes the production as “a very surreal journey and a brilliant opportunity to see a world-class artist like Natalia dancing in something different.”

What can audiences expect from ‘The Mother’? Goddard tells us, “I expect people to be transported to a place of new logic and fairy tale morality; it’s a very dark tale totally suitable for winter nights.”

‘The Mother’ will be performed at Pentland Theatre, Pleasance at EICC, Edinburgh or Friday 21 – Saturday 22 December.

You can find out more about 'The Mother' and buy tickets online here.

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