He’s all bent out of shape
Author: Leigh Witchel
Date: March 11, 2012
Publisher: New York Post
In Boris Eifman’s world, there’s no such thing as a happy artist: Geniuses are all misunderstood, tortured or insane. Having examined Tchaikovsky and Balanchine through morose-colored glasses, the choreographer’s decided it’s Rodin’s turn.
Eifman was a struggling artist himself, starting his ballet company 34 years ago in the former Leningrad, where he was considered a “choreographic dissident.” Nevertheless, he persevered, winning honor after honor in his homeland for his drama and theatricality.
His latest evening-length spectacle, “Rodin,” which played at City Center this past weekend, is inspired by the “Thinker” sculptor and his torn-between-two-lovers relationship with his longtime companion, Rose Beuret, and the brilliant young sculptress, Camille Claudel.
Set to choppy recorded selections of Ravel, Saint-Saens, Massenet, Debussy and Satie, the piece opens in an insane asylum where Claudel was institutionalized after breaking up with Rodin.
Eifman’s dancers, here going through the contortions in “Rodin,” are long-limbed and super-pliable.
Most of the ballet is made of Rodin’s duets with Claudel or Beuret, which involve a lot of yanking around and hyper-flexibility. In a climactic trio, the two women confront each other and Rodin, grabbing at him as if he were a wishbone. Beuret wins, but Rodin ends up on the ground rolling over her, leaving her sprawled like roadkill.
There’s tons more angst. The characters grab their stomachs, clutch their heads, furrow their brows and fall to the floor — but not before kicking their legs higher than the Rockettes.
Eifman’s dancers, from the principal trio to the corps, are tall, long-limbed and super-pliable.
The corps works hard, but mostly to provide color. Eifman uses the dancers to create some of Rodin’s famous sculptures including “The Burghers of Calais” and “The Gates of Hell.”
“Rodin” is kitsch, but that can be fun. Think of Eifman’s over-the-top musings as an art-appreciation class taught by Cirque de Soleil and Jerry Springer.