public forum
home forum magazine gallery links about faq courtesy
It is currently Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:18 pm

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 2 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Eifman Ballet: July 2008 St. Petersburg Season
PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2008 9:27 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1752
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
“Brothers Karamazov”
Eifman Ballet
Alexandrinsky Theatre
St. Petersburg, Russia
12 July 2008
By Catherine Pawlick

One cannot possibly expect a two-act ballet to thoroughly represent all the details in a novel as rich in metaphor and profuse in metaphysical theme as “The Brothers Karamazov”. Those looking for a verbatim representation of said tome in Boris Eifman’s ballet of the same name would be amiss to expect it. However, the ballet itself is a work of genius for accurately rendering into movement some of the great author’s major themes, and all this in under two hours of dancing time.

Last performed in the States in 2002, the ballet is rarely performed even in Eifman’s home base, but Saturday night’s performance brought the choreographer himself on stage to numerous “bravos” and several standing audience members in the sold out hall.

To take a subject as complex as “Brothers Karamazov” and transform it into wordless movement is a daunting undertaking for any choreographer. Eifman does so using his own idiom and score. Set to a mix of recorded music including pieces from Rachmaninoff and Mussorgsky as well as words spoken to the overture of Wagner’s Tannhauser in Act II, “Karamazov” expresses everything from Alexei’s search for soulful purity to Ivan’s nihilistic philosophy, and Fyodor Pavlovich’s hedonistic lifestyle.

The latter, danced tonight by veteran Eifman member Andrey Ivanov, is depicted as the ballet opens, an orgy of women in fleshy white unitards surrounding him on all sides. Ivanov’s quick movements and mastery of Eifman’s style lent authenticity to his rendition of this role. When Fyodor’s shredded shirt is tugged at by each of his three sons, they each become entangled (both physically and metaphorically) in the web of their father’s sinfulness. Such is the cleverness of Eifman’s choreography to depict his characters’ psychology and emotions.

As always, that choreography extends beyond the classical paradigm into post-modern movement, never succumbing to timidity: sweeping lifts, boldly twisted limbs, bodies thrown to the ground, plenty of second position plies, and even movements suggestive of various sexual acts lend a humanity to the ballet that you won’t find in any “Swan Lake”.

Numerous pas de deux take place depicting the relationship between the characters. Anastasia Sitnikova danced beautifully as Katerina Ivanova (who is in love with both brother Dmitry, danced by Oleg Gabishev, and brother Ivan, danced by Sergey Volubiev). A lovely blonde with amazingly chiseled insteps, Sitnikova’s masterful fluidity and emotional expressiveness brought a gentle femininity to her role.

Grushenka, danced by the brunette Ekaterina Zhigalova, who ignites a rivalry between Dmitry and father Fyodor, shone less brightly than Sitnikova, but nonetheless danced adequately in her role.

The murder of Fyodor Pavlovich takes place after a complex pas de trois: father, son, and a six-legged table that is used alternately to carry or barricade off the dancers from each other. Following Dmitry’s prison sentence, we see the corps de ballet of skeletal-like prisoners in beige rags dance like hungry animals with outspread fingers pawing at the air. Is this the chaos of the uninformed masses? The depths of human animalism?

The soul savior in the ballet, the only person seeking salvation amongst so much hellish debauchery, is of course Alexei, who eschews drink and women in favor of higher pursuits. Ilya Osipova danced this key role on Saturday night with spiritual angst and movements that alternated crisp accuracy and melting lyricism. Even Alexei, however, cannot escape his family’s curse, and his character is at one point beseiged by an epileptic seizure after a brief sexual encounter – involving a simple kiss – with one of the ladies on stage. This struggle for Good amidst unconquerable and ever-present Evil is paramount to the novel, and one of the many themes revisited in numerous scenes throughout the ballet.

In short, “Karamazov” is a gem. If not as evolved as some of Eifman’s more recent works, it nonetheless holds a freshness in approach that may not be as present in later works where his style is more engrained. The themes in “Karamazov” are universal, especially so in 2008, themes that citizens of some nations in particular may find applicable, greed and debauchery (the War for Oil; America’s mortgage crisis… anyone?) among them. History shows us that human beings don’t learn from their mistakes; plenty of literary examples prove this point. Basic ethics, where they remain, if they remain, hold the way to ultimate salvation or, in common patois, a life lived on principle that adheres to virtuosity and correctness -- moderation, hard work, and honesty in all things, to name a few. If nothing else, “Karamazov” – both the novel and the ballet – forces us to evaluate our own lives against a measure of objective values. Do yours stand up?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 22, 2008 2:27 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2001 12:01 am
Posts: 1752
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
“Red Giselle” – Gala Concert of Elena Kuzmina
Eifman Ballet
Alexandrinsky Theatre
July 19, 2008
By Catherine Pawlick

Additional red velvet chairs were placed in the aisles of the Alexandrinsk y Theatre on Saturday night as fans of Eifman Ballet and followers of Elena Kuzmina filled the theatre for a gala concert in her name.

Kuzmina, now an Honored Artist of Russia and recipient of the country’s coveted Golden Sofit Award, has been a member of Eifman Ballet since she graduated from the Vaganova Academy in 1989. Her name is now commonly associated with the company for which she dances and, as the program noted, she is known particularly for her role as Olga Spessivtseva in “Red Giselle”, which she danced this evening.

And yet, despite her notoriety, the program quipped that her success and current principal status was achieved not through any “God given talents” but instead through hard work, suffering for her art, and the strife for perfection. I would argue that these are qualities any serious pursuer of ballet holds. Talent is in fact what makes one stand out from the rest in the long run.

Eifman’s initial scene, a ballet studio littered with ballerinas in turn of the century tutus, is genius. Thin ribbons cover hair pulled back into low buns; Pavlova-era thick, floppy tutus grace the slender legs of the Eifman girls; and several of them wear loosely knitted shawls during the warm-up scene. Oleg Markov, dressed in slim pants and a tie, conveyed the common frustrations of a ballet teacher with frequent use of his cane. And in this setting, Kuzmina appears as Spessivtseva, the dark hollows of her eyes searching the space around her, foreshadowing the fate of her lost soul.

As the Czechist, Oleg Asanyan cut an evil figure in black leather, intent on tearing apart his toy ballerina both literally and figuratively. With brusque movements that jerked her limbs this way and that, he depicted his mal intent. A gratuitous hand clap in response to her short dancing sequence in front of the factory worker crowd made clear his ignorance in all things art related, and his interest in her as more of an object than a human being. Upon this second viewing of the work, the Czechist’s own rather strange sense of anguish when Spessivtseva boards the steamship at the end of Act I surprised me. She barely manages to disentangle herself from his grip before she is boarding the plank to the ship, and meanwhile he writhes on the floor downstage, apparently cursing his poor luck.

The contrast between the Czechist and the kinder, gentler Teacher is made apparent in the scene prior in which the Czechist Men in Black invade the ballet studio, each taking for their own one of the white tutu-clad lovelies, and partnering them by a grip on the neck. As the Teacher is crucified on the ballet barre, the Czechists make off with their treasures.
It is with understood hesitancy that Spessivtseva lands in Paris, alone, scared, and hoping for acceptance. Acceptance she finds in the face of Lifar, danced by Oleg Gabishev, the head of the troupe who leads a class in a unique dance style unknown to the Russian ballerina. Gabishev cut the perfect figure of a narcissistic head of the troupe, preening in front of the mirror before meeting his close male friend for a brief interlude after hours.

Unfortunately, the appearance of Dmitry Lunyov as The Friend – Lifar’s male companion – dimmed the impressions left by Anton Labunskass in the same role just one year ago. This duet requires a strong man –literally, as he has to lift his male partner overhead – and one with dramatic projection. Lunyov is much softer than Labunskass both in projection and in physicality; at moments he seemed lost on stage. One wished Labunskass had been cast in this special evening instead.

This viewer’s favorite scene of all, however, has become the nightclub scene in Act II. Here an unlisted Andrey Ivanov led Kuzmina through a peppy rendition of “Yes Sir, That’s My Baby”, he in tuxedo and gelled hair, she in a slender 1930s floor-length gown. As the entire corps de ballet –women in shimmering silver and men in tuxedos – danced behind them, the feeling of Hope brought by the new world – Paris – was palpable. Here Ivanov demonstrated the flawless grace of Fred Astaire as he partnered Kuzmina on the dance floor. Now a veteran of the troupe, one nonetheless hopes he might continue to appear on stage in scenes such as this.

At the final curtain, numerous bouquets were delivered to Kuzmina onstage as Eifman himself came out for a bow. That the Eifman Ballet has carved its niche in the ballet world with a specific genre of dance is clear; that ballerinas such as Kuzmina can build their careers in the style is testament not only to the choreographer’s talents but to those of the dancers themselves.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 2 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 7 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
The messages in this forum are posted by members of the general public and do not reflect the opinions or beliefs of CriticalDance or its staff.
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group