© Photo by Nina Alovert
Thirty five years ago, a ballet troupe with an intriguing name of "The New Ballet" presented its first performance – which completely justified its name. In the stagnant creative atmosphere of Russia in the 1970s, works by Boris Eifman – the founder and Artistic Director of "The New Ballet" – were like a breath of fresh air. Eifman's combination of relevant themes and deep psychological perception, philosophical ideas and fiery passions, audacity of movement vocabulary and clarity of dramatic intent were highly unusual for that time. Even more remarkable was the artists' level of commitment. The creation of a ballet troupe dedicated to performing works by one choreographer only was a unique phenomenon in itself.
Eifman's ballet theater was geared towards a continuous creative process and each year produced new titles for its repertoire. After "Boomerang," which was set to rock music, came "The Idiot," which became a phenomenon in the Russian theater and clearly defined the aesthetic goals of Eifman's ballet troupe: the dramatization of the art of dance, deep penetration into the human psyche, daring interpretation of the most relevant, or "taboo," themes of the time, and the creation of meaningful metaphors through movement. Eifman also became known for the elegance and powerful impact of the mass action scenes impeccably executed by the troupe's captivating corps de ballet.
Eifman's repertoire helped create a special type of artist, combining dancing, acting, brilliant technique, and a gift for transformation.
Eifman's ballet theater presented 27 productions in its first decade. Seeking to create a diverse repertoire, Eifman experimented with various genres, which ranged from choreographic miniatures to full-evening ballets. This period produced "The Metamorphoses" and "Autographs," "The Legend" and "A Crazy Day," "The Twelfth Night" and "Love's Intrigues."
It was also during that time that the poignant "Sub-lieutenant Romashov" and the innovative "Master and Margarita" broke though the barriers of censorship. These ballets saw an entire generation of audiences to whom Eifman's works have given an unusual feeling of freedom and on whom they have made an astounding emotional and spiritual impact.
Eifman's production of "The Murderers" signaled a new period in the life of Eifman Ballet characterized by a special emphasis on seeking new forms of dance expression, psychoanalysis through movement, and a new, previously unexplored, energy in dance.
Eifman Ballet's latest and best known productions include "Tchaikovsky," "Don Quixote," "The Karamazovs," "Red Giselle," "My Jerusalem," "Russian Hamlet," and "Don Juan & Moliere." These ballets have brought worldwide recognition to such already well-known and versatile artists of the Eifman Ballet as Albert Galichanin, Elena Kuzmina, Vera Arbuzova, Yuri Ananyan, Alexander Rachinsky, Sergei Zimin. Today, a young generation of artists is realizing its talent alongside these masters. They include Yuri Smekalov, Natalia Povorozniuk, Alina Solonskaya, Konstantin Matulevsky, Anastassia Sitnikova, Maria Abashova, Oleg Markov. Besides the talent of its soloists, Eifman Ballet also owes its success in large part to the incredibly disciplined and professional corps de ballet. Collaborating on "Tchaikovsky" has laid the foundation for a creative union between two extraordinary artists – Boris Eifman and set designer Vyacheslav Okunev, both of whom are now responsible for what is described as the "amazing visual impact" of the Eifman Ballet productions.
Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg Schedule For 2013
Choreographer's reflections on his new work
Ballet is a very special art form that gives us an opportunity to permeate into the subconscious and dive into the heart of psychological drama. Each new ballet is an expedition into the unknown.
Tolstoy's novel, Anna Karenina, has always captured my interest. When reading Tolstoy, one can viscerally feel the author's acute understanding of his characters' psyche and revel in his astonishing sensitivity and incredible detail in portraying life in Russia. The novel, Anna Karenina, allows us not only to submerge deep into the psyche of the heroine, but also to fully understand her psychoerotic essence. Even today's literature does not offer such passion, metamorphoses, and phantasmagorias. All this stood at the core of my choreographic investigation.
The Karenin family's steady rhythm of life – the government service of the head of the family, the family's strict adherence to the societal norms – created an illusion of harmony and peace. But Anna's passion for Vronsky crushed the familiar. The sincerity of the feelings between the two lovers was reviled and openly criticized. Karenin's hypocrisy was acceptable for everyone but Anna. She preferred the sweeping passion for the man she loved to the duty of a mother to her son – and thus condemned herself to the life of an outcast.
She did not find happiness in travels, her husband's rich estate, or the habitual amusements of the society in which she lived. Instead, she fell captive to a woman's tragic enslavement to her sensuality. I understand a woman who becomes dependent on a man. This dependence, however, like any other disease, brings only suffering.
Eventually, Anna is driven to commit suicide in order to break free and put an end to her unbearable and torturous life. Like in a werewolf, two people lived in Anna: one was the outwardly known lady of high society, who was familiar to Karenin, her son, and everyone around her. The other was a woman drowning in a sea of passion.
What is more important – to preserve the widely accepted illusion of harmony between duty and emotion, or to allow sincere passion to take over? Do we have the right to destroy our family and to rid a child of a mother for the sake of carnal pleasure? These questions beleaguered Tolstoy in the past, and they are still inescapable today. Yet there are no answers. There is just the unquenchable thirst for understanding – either in life or in death.
- Boris Eifman
Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg Schedule For 2012
Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg: USA 2009 TOUR
New Ballet by Boris Eifman "ONEGIN" Inspired by Alexander Pushkin's novel "Eugene Onegin". Music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Alexander Sitkovetsky.
Northrop Memorial Auditorium
April 24 at 8PM
April 25 at 8PM
Zellerbach Hall, Cal Performances
May 1 at 8PM
May 2 at 8PM
May 3 at 3PM
Cutler Majestic Theatre
May 7 at 8PM
May 8 at 8PM
May 9 at 2PM and 8PM
May 10 at 2PM
Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University
May 14 at 7:30PM
May 15 at 7:30PM
May 16 at 8PM
May 17 at 2PM
Orange County Performing Arts Center
Costa Mesa, California
May 20 at 7:30PM
May 22 at 7:30PM
May 23 at 2PM and 7:30PM
May 24 at 2PM
New York, New York
May 29 at 8PM
May 30 at 2PM and 8PM
May 31 at 3PM
Author: Boris Eifman
In turning to great literature to inspire my ballets, I try to use the art of choreography to express the emotional agitation that comes from communing with the wisdom and creative power of our genius predecessors. The word is an instrument of both creation and destruction; it can generate and it can annihilate. [read more]
Title: Эйфман об Онегине
Author: Борис Эйфман
Обращаясь в своих спектаклях к великой литературе, я пытаюсь выразить искусством хореографии эмоциональное потрясение от соприкосновения с мудростью и творческой мощью наших гениальных предшественников. Слово – это инструмент созидания и разрушения, оно способно возродить или уничтожить. [read more]