Anniversary Gala Concert
Boris Eifman/Eifman Ballet
22 July, 2006
St. Petersburg, Russia --by Catherine Pawlick
In honor of Boris Eifman's 60th birthday, and marking 40 years of his choreographic efforts and the founding of his own company in St. Petersburg, a grand scale gala concert was held at the Mariinsky Theatre on July 22, dedicated to the man who has done so much for the local choreographic scene.
The evening began to a packed house, with guests that included Vladimir Vasiliev, Oleg Vinogradov and companion, Gabriela Komleva, Uliana Lopatkina and others. Governer of St. Petersburg Valentina Matvienko came onstage and read a letter from Vladimir Putin addressed to Mr. Eifman before presenting it to him in a frame. She then bestowed upon him a second award from the City of St. Petersburg. In almost every interview, Mr. Eifman has stated his desire for a dance school/rehearsal space/theatre venue in which to continue his own efforts and ensure that not only his dancers but the city of St. Petersburg has ample space for continuing experiments in choreography as well as the Eifman Ballet heritage he has so successfully begun. Governor Matvienko mentioned his desire and said that the City is aware of his dream and they are working to make it a reality.
Following some words of thanks by Mr. Eifman -- he said that no words could better express his feelings than his own choreography -- the company dancers came onstage to dance excerpts from some of Eifman's best ballets.
Act One included excerpts from "The Seagull", "Who's Who", "Karamazov Brothers", "Double Voices", and "Don Quixote or the Fantasy of an Insane Man". Notable was the duet between Maria Abashova and Yuri Smekalov in "Who's Who" -- a flesh colored unitard displayed her perfectly sculpted limbs as Smekalov attentively partnered her.
Act Two included two separate sections each from both "Anna Karenina" and "Don Juan and Moliere". The train death scene from "Karenina" is stunning in its complex simplicity, in which the corps de ballet uses their arms and the general onstage pattern to create the sound, look and feel of train wheels ominously approaching. As Anna, Maria Abashova again appeared alongside Smekalov for a dramatic dancing section.
The number of secret service men both inside and outside the theatre added an extra air of importance to the evening, which no doubt continued until well after the final curtain had dropped. A TV special aired the following night, including excerpts from the gala concert as well as from Eifman's 25-year anniversary performance.
May the art of dance continue to thrive in St. Petersburg.