CriticalDance Forum

Eifman Ballet
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Author:  Gavin Roebuck [ Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:04 am ]
Post subject:  Eifman Ballet

The Eifman Ballet comes to the London Coliseum Tuesday 3rd April – Saturday 7th April 2012 with four performances of two UK premières.

Promotional video clip:

Acclaimed as Russia’s greatest living choreographer, Boris Eifman presents in Britain for the first time two of his master works:
Anna Karenina – Eifman’s award winning ballet tells the tale of Tolstoy’s famous literary figure with a visceral energy which makes this production unforgettable.

Onegin - the compelling classic Russian romance, a heartbreaking tale of infatuation, passion and intrigue.

Taken from Russia’s great literary masterpiece’s by Leo Tolstoy and Alexander Pushkin. These classics are made into modern dramatic dance dramas by Boris Eifman, a master of theatre as well as a superb maker of dances. Anna Karenina is set to the music of Russia’s foremost composer P. I.Tchaikovsky. Onegin fuses Tchaikovsky’s classical music with Sitkovetsky’s contemporary rock music.

Performed by the superb Eifman Ballet based in Russia’s great city St. Petersburg on their first visit to the London Coliseum.

Principal dancers appearing include:
Maria Abashova, Lyubov Andreeva, Zlata Yalinich, Ekaterina Zhigalova, Nina Zmievets, Dmitry Fisher, Oleg Gabyshev, Yury Kovalev, Oleg Markov, Alexei Turko, Nikolai Radziush, Sergey Volobuev.

Booking is now open tickets from £5-£55 available from the London Coliseum.
Tickets from £5 - £55
Book by telephone: 0871 911 0200

GR EIFMAN.jpg [ 76.45 KiB | Viewed 25233 times ]

Author:  drdance [ Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:39 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Eifman Ballet

Sounds an interesting change for the London dance scene.

Author:  Cassandra [ Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:15 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Eifman Ballet

Eifman's company has appeared in London before - I remember seeing them at Sadlers Wells a few years ago, but this is their first time at the Coliseum. The UK critics don't care for Eifman but most ballet-goers find him interesting.

Author:  Gavin Roebuck [ Thu Feb 16, 2012 7:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Eifman Ballet

Madonna and Condoleeza Rice are big fans of the Eifman Ballet

The BBC documentary series by Angus Roxburgh, Putin, Russia & The West, reveals, how they were able to gauge just how close the Russians and Americans were in the first year or so of Putin’s rule. Condoleezza Rice the US secretary of State and her Russian opposite number, Sergei Ivanov, both told with delight about an evening in St Petersburg in May 2002.

Putin took President Bush to see the classical ballet The Nutcracker. Rice and Ivanov were with them. Ivanov turned to Rice and asked: "Do you really want to watch this? I have a much better idea - Have you heard of the Eifman ballet?"

Rice had indeed heard of the avant-garde choreographer and was delighted to break free. The pair shook off their bodyguards and snuck off to watch a rehearsal at the Eifman studio, as the sole guests. "I could see she loved it," Ivanov told us. "You can't fake that sort of thing."

You Tube link:

Madonna visited the company on tour and now has a standing invtation to their performances.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:24 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Eifman Ballet

Ismene Brown interviews Boris Eifman for The Arts Desk.

Arts Desk

Author:  Gavin Roebuck [ Fri Mar 30, 2012 2:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Eifman Ballet

Daily Mirror interview with Boris Eifman:
[url] ... horeo.html[/url]

Author:  marina_k [ Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Eifman Ballet

I recently read Alastair Macaulay's review of the March 2012 performances of "Rodin" at City Center for the New York Times: ... irmacaulay

Do you feel that his critique was too harsh? Do you think European critics will respond similarly to the new work?

Author:  David [ Wed Apr 04, 2012 6:06 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Eifman Ballet

‘Anna Karenina’
Eifman Ballet
London Coliseum; April 3, 2012

David Mead

Eifman Ballet in Anna Karenina. Photo Khana Kudryashova (1).jpg
Eifman Ballet in Anna Karenina. Photo Khana Kudryashova (1).jpg [ 26.31 KiB | Viewed 25103 times ]

Although I have a good idea of the story, having seen films and remember well Galina Samsova’s production of Andre Prokovsky’s ballet, I’ve never actually read Tolstoy’s novel. When it comes to watching Boris Eifman’s take on the story, perhaps that’s no bad thing. I don’t, for example, get too hung up on the missing characters and counterplots; of which there are quite a few.

Eifman chooses to focus exclusively on the love triangle between Anna; her husband, Karenin; and her lover Vronsky; so much so, that they are the only three dancers identified on the cast list. There is no sign, for example, of Levin, co-protagonist of the novel and who marries Kitty, Vronsky’s girlfriend who is jilted for Anna; or Dolly, Kitty’s older sister and one of the few people who act kindly towards her. Kitty herself makes just a brief appearance, lasting only until Anna and Vronsky lock eyes for the first time.

All choreographers pare down narrative. You simply can’t squeeze 800-plus pages into two and a bit hours of dance without leaving things out. But narrative is important for character development and understanding, and Eifman has gone so far that he leaves us only occasional glimpses into each individual's inner psyche. The ballet is rather patchy on an emotional level too. As Karenin, Oleg Markov was perfectly detached and lacking in sentiment. We learned little about Vronsky, though, Oleg Gabyshev all too often being equally strangely cool. Nina Zmievets as Anna is beautiful and always elegant, but when their eyes meet, especially early in the ballet, there was almost no sense of falling in love, let alone passion for each other. In among the distorted and distended limbs their pas de deux have plenty of sweeping dance and wonderful acrobatic lifts, but with the couple oddly remote in just about every other way. And while we see Anna’s indecision about leaving her husband and son, we feel little.

Part of the problem is Eifman’s penchant to always move things on apace. Relationships and characterisations take time, and that is something there is little of. Not only does he move swiftly from scene to scene, the movement itself is non-stop with a step for every note; and usually a big step too. He makes great use of his dancers’ pliant bodies. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen so many extravagant extensions in a ballet. There’s plenty of strength on show too in the usually acrobatic partnering, but it all gets a little too gymnastic. Each lift is held for a second as if to make sure you have registered it. As impressive as it all was, it cried out for moments of stillness or at least of slowing down. When Eifman starts to do that in Act II, it is noticeable how much matters improve.

Despite all the reservations, there is plenty to admire. Some moments are theatrically outstanding. One of the best is when Anna and Vronsky are alone in their beds. The light shifts between them as they reach out to each other, echoing each other’s movements, before she grabs her shawl and rushes off to see him (à la Juliet) and dance a pas de deux that at last shows some passion for one another. The only shame was that it was all rather rushed and more was not made of the scene. Elsewhere, Act I closes with a particularly chilling moment when Anna stands in the centre of her son’s toy train set; a portent of where things are headed.
Eifman Ballet in Anna Karenina. Photo Khana Kudryashova (2).jpg
Eifman Ballet in Anna Karenina. Photo Khana Kudryashova (2).jpg [ 6 KiB | Viewed 25103 times ]

It’s in Act II that we really get to see inside Anna. Her baring of the torment in her mind in her mad scene, in which she is metaphorically naked in a unitard, is impressive indeed. There is a particularly moving moment when Vronsky carries her offstage as if she has been crucified, her head lifeless, her arms extended, her legs bent in parallel.

The corps was full of energy, and needed to be. Invariably used en masse to emphasise mood or effect, they ebb and flow from the shadowy wings, again, almost always at speed. Some of their work felt like padding or was simply there to give the principals a breather, but when used to amplify the main characters feelings, or to represent society at large, all whispers and sideways glances at this woman who has broken polite society’s rules, they were most effective. Their impressive evocation of the fatal train also works far better than one could ever imagine. Driven on by music that gets louder and louder, they imitate a train getting ever closer before Anna throws herself from the bridge into their arms.

The ballet is adorned with beautiful sets. Zinovy Margolin’s impressive, if rather Roman looking, balconies and columns morph effortlessly into homes, ballrooms and eventually a railway bridge from which Anna throws herself. On the costume front, Vyacheslav Okunev’s high cut gowns for Anna are sumptuous indeed, and do a great job of showing her long legs to best advantage.
Eifman Ballet in Anna Karenina. Photo Khana Kudryashova (3).jpg
Eifman Ballet in Anna Karenina. Photo Khana Kudryashova (3).jpg [ 19.19 KiB | Viewed 25103 times ]

Eifman’s choice of music, largely a casserole of segments from Tchaikovsky, works much better than expected. There is the occasional untidy join but on the whole the gluing together is pretty well done. There is an issue with using music from iconic ballets, though. It did take a few moments to get my brain around the fact that this didn’t have to be Balanchine’s “Serenade” at the beginning, and I remain unconvinced about the use of Suite No. 3 (“Theme and Variations”), or Eifman’s rather jarring choreography to it.

It’s easy to criticise Eifman’s approach. It is modern, sleek and glamorous. It is popularist, and is certainly well and truly aimed at today’s Joe Public. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. I just wish it wasn’t quite so insistent.

Author:  David [ Wed Apr 04, 2012 6:14 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Eifman Ballet

Another view from Judith Flanders of The Arts Desk.

"Dance by and for people with no interest in dance" she says.

The Arts Desk

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Apr 04, 2012 12:18 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Eifman Ballet

Further reviews of the April 3, 2012 performance of "Anna Karenina" at the London Coliseum.

Sarah Frater for The Stage.

The Stage

Rachel Philips for Londonist.


Zoe Anderson for The Independent.


Clifford Bishop for the Evening Standard.

Evening Standard

Judith Mackrell for The Guardian.


Laura Thompson for The Telegraph.


Author:  David [ Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Eifman Ballet

Eifman Ballet
London Coliseum; April 6, 2012

David Mead

Oleg Gabyshev (Onegin) and Maria Abashova (Tatyana) in Onegin. Photo Valentin Baranovsky.jpg
Oleg Gabyshev (Onegin) and Maria Abashova (Tatyana) in Onegin. Photo Valentin Baranovsky.jpg [ 40.2 KiB | Viewed 25053 times ]

In his reimagining of Alexander Pushkin’s 19th century Russian classic “Eugene Onegin”, Boris Eifman views events against the backdrop of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, a time of great upheaval and uncertainty, and where the rules that dictate how society operates are undergoing rapid change.

The essence of the original poem survives Eifman’s updating rather well. The ballet opens with the corps at a cocktail party early this century, celebrating and flaunting the wealth changes have brought. Among them is Onegin, still brooding over past events. We are quickly whizzed back to 1991 where events start to unfold. As always with Eifman, it is all very sharp, edgy and cracks on at speed. Dances are generally still full of his typical agitated movement, although the ballet is much less insistent than “Anna Karenina”, seen earlier in the week, and all the better for it.

The staging is excellent and a delight for the eyes. Zinovy Margolin’s relatively simple sets work a treat with many scenes set against a really effective depiction of St. Petersburg’s Bolshoi Obukhovsky Bridge. Margolin also put together the opening video of demonstrations and an excerpt from Swan Lake that puts things in context. Olga Schaishmelaschvili, Pyotr Okunev and Anna Yakushchenko’s costumes match the mood and scenes well. They particularly got things just right for the corps, with designer clothes that yell “money” and try to look chic while being anything but.

The whole cast was excellent, with the principals revealing much about their characters. There is the odd surprise along the way, not least the suggestion that Onegin (Oleg Gabyshev) and Lensky (Dmitry Fisher) are rather more than “just good friends”. Early on they dance a quite sexually explicit duet that is full of gentle caresses, the movement all soft and fluid as their bodies entwine around each other.

Onegin and Lensky may be taken with each other, but they are also easily smitten by the ladies. Onegin quickly spots Maria Abashova as Tatyana, who simply shone as she grew a shy, sensitive and plain young girl, her hair in pigtails, her head always in a book, to confident socialite. She was intrigued by Onegin, yet clearly uncertain, perhaps even afraid. Those fears stay with her and come to life later when she is surrounded by demons, from the midst of which Onegin appears and, one assumes, although it is open to some interpretation, rapes her.
Dmitry Fisher (Lensky) and Natalia Povorozniuk (Olga) in Onegin. Photo Valentin Baranovsky.jpg
Dmitry Fisher (Lensky) and Natalia Povorozniuk (Olga) in Onegin. Photo Valentin Baranovsky.jpg [ 56.56 KiB | Viewed 25053 times ]

Abashova contrasted beautifully with the hugely attractive and engaging Natalia Povorozniuk who danced the free-spirited and girlish Olga, Lensky’s girlfriend. Her carefree attitude eventually causes his demise. It’s Tatyana’s name day and everyone is celebrating in a nightclub. But Onegin flirts with Olga, now looking all grown up and wearing the sort of red dress that screams “come and get me”. Lensky gets agitated and the friends fight, egged on by onlookers. As fight scenes go, it’s rather effective. It’s also not long before Onegin pulls a knife and his friend lies dying. As he lies in his girlfriend’s arms, Tatiana walks on the bridge with Olga’s celebration cake. Her blowing out of the candle not only marks the moment of Lensky’s death, but also of her growing up.

Lensky may die at the end of Act I, but it’s not the last we see of him. Eifman resurrects him as a ghost directly after the interval. It’s a neat and rather effective way of emphasising Onegin’s grief, thus setting the scene for what follows, as well as re-emphasising the feelings he had for his friend.
Dmitry Fisher (Lensky) and Oleg Gabyshev (Onegin) in Onegin. Photo Valentin Baranovsky.jpg
Dmitry Fisher (Lensky) and Oleg Gabyshev (Onegin) in Onegin. Photo Valentin Baranovsky.jpg [ 44.57 KiB | Viewed 25053 times ]

What follows is Tatyana’s transformation from quiet bookish country girl to nouveau-riche lady about town. To the well-known waltz from Tchaikovsky’s opera she is wheeled across stage several times as she has her hair and nails done, is given a massage and fitted out with a glittering off the shoulder dress. It’s a scene that, for once, feels out of place as Eifman’s attempt at injecting some humour falls rather flat. There’s plenty more glitter added round her neck too. It’s not long before she is married to her General, danced by Sergey Volobuev in black beret and sunglasses.

It’s all in stark contrast to Onegin’s change from confident to broken man, portrayed with great conviction by Gabyshev. He still writes but she ignores his advances. The end comes swiftly. In a gesture to close the door on the past, she tears up his letters. The final scene has a simple yet dramatic beauty about it. Onegin is seen at a desk. He throws letters in the air. They blow away in the breeze, just as his love has blown away. As they do so, many more fall from the sky.

The main cast were well supported by a corps that represents different aspects of society, whether foot stomping, fist waving, protesting youths; the new party going moneyed elite; or partygoers at the seedy nightclub that is trying so hard to be modern but just succeeds in looking tacky. Their choreography is largely effective, save for one number that looked like it would be more at home on Saturday night television, if not exactly inspired.

In the programme, Eifman talks about the Russian soul and wonders whether what he sees as its mysteriousness, unpredictability and sensuality has survived the many recent changes. His ballet suggests that reality is rather depressing. He suggests the confidence we see is superficial, and that not far beneath the surface is a great deal of uncertainty. But put all the philosophical stuff aside. This is a rather striking, effective and, yes, enjoyable, if different take on the story. Even the music, a cocktail of Tchaikovsky and electronic techno-rock by Alexander Sitkovetsky works; yet another reflection of the conflict going on in society perhaps. And of course there are his gorgeous dancers, who do everything that is asked of them, and do it very well indeed.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Mon Apr 09, 2012 12:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Eifman Ballet

Zoe Anderson reviews "Onegin" at the London Coliseum for The Independent.


Judith Mackrell reviews "Onegin" for The Guardian.


Author:  Francis Timlin [ Sat May 26, 2012 12:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Eifman Ballet

In the Voice of Russia, Karina Ivashko reviews the premiere of Boris Eifman's "Rodin" on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at the Saint Petersburg Ballet Theatre.

Voice of Russia

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:49 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Eifman Ballet

Laura Cappelle reviews the March 2013 production of "Rodin" at the Theatre des Champs-Elysees in Paris for the Financial Times.

Financial Times

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Tue Apr 30, 2013 1:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Eifman Ballet

"On the Side of Sin"
Eifman Ballet
Rimsky Korsakov Conservatory
29 April 2013
by Catherine Pawlick

Boris Eifman's revised version of the ballet based on Dostoyevsky's Brothers Karamazov debuted Monday night at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory Theatre. The ballet, called On the Side of Sin, is an abbreviated version of the novel that nonetheless touches on several main themes in the book: faith, forgiveness, lust, and greed, among them.

Set in an abstract stage space with an upstage iron trellis with a circular iron staircase in the middle, the ballet opens with a church scene: men in black robes solemnly parading upstage to the sounds of low choral music. We see Alyosha, danced by the soulful Dmitry Fisher, the youngest and most religious of the three brothers, a student at the monastery, dance alone in a prayerful expression of movement, before he's interrupted by the arrival of a woman, Grushenka, danced by Nina Zmeivetz, dressed in a long, deep red gown. The contrast between the two is stark, as it is clear Alyosha is of another moral class than this racy woman.

As the priests disappear, a crowd forms onstage, and Grushenka is joined by 5 gypsy women, clearly of the loose behaviour sort. The elder son Dmitry, enters, danced by the noble Oleg Gabishev, and the dynamic of the story begins to unfold. Dmitry's passionate dance with Grushenka ensues, only to be interrupted by the arrival of the father of the three brothers, Fyodor Pavlovich, danced by Igor Polyakov, surrounded by drunken women. Money is thrown at the gypsies, who greedily scoop it up. The third brother, Ivan, here danced by the stately and blonde Sergey Volobuyev, enters, and the brothers dance a struggle with their father. Grushenka seems to play both sides of the game, intertwining when she can with Fyodor Pavlovich and shifting back almost as quickly to Dmitry. At various points father Fyodor displays abusive behavior towards one or more of his sons: He beats them, seeming lost in an amoral abyss of debauchery and orgies. We see the disconnect in the family relationships as quickly as we witness the varying levels of moral correctness among the Karamazov men.

Eifman structures the progression of the libretto based on symbolic episodes, and while this leaves out significant detail from the novel, it nonetheless manages to further the story on stage while still depicting some major themes. At one point a nun dressed in white descends from the upstage trellis, only to be chased away; we see a man robed in white (unnamed in the program but presumably Smerdakov, the illegitimate son of Fyodor and the one responsible in fact for his murder) in an epileptic fit on the floor; and the group of priests finally capture Fyodor with long stretchy cables. A sudden shift to a light and bright ballroom scene with waltzing couples then gives way to a pas de deux between two brothers, Ivan and Alyosha, with a voiceover in Russian that states "If there is no God, everything is allowed." A rowdy crowd scene leads to a group fight in which Fyodor ends up dead. Ivan, now dressed in white, is beaten by six men with ropes.

But the blame for Fyodor's death goes to the oldest son, Dmitry, in accordance with the novel, and this is where Act Two begins. The upstage trellis is now a jail, with bodies in grey uniforms undulating, reaching through the bars with cold, hollow expressions. Dmitry is led in by two wardens, made to change into the jail uniform, and does all slowly, until a sudden explosion of energy when he runs back and forth trying to escape. We hear another voiceover "No crime, no sin," and Ivan and Alyosha then dance. If a crime has not been committed, then there is no sin...

Grushenka comes to the prison to visit Dmitry; after she bribes the guards with cash, they release him from behind the iron bars. She dances with Dmitry, the two are tormented, but joyfully reunited. Soon however the police return to beat Dmitry and he is taken away again.

In all of this activity, Eifman's lexicon remains the unique plastique he has developed for his dancers over the decades: Plenty of pliés in second, angled lifts, parallel positions, and floorwork. For Oleg Gabishev, Dmitry's torment was expressed through one-hand support of his entire bodyweight on the floor, with gymnastic strength. Alyosha's step patterns were more lyrical, embodying the innocent spirituality he tried to emulate. One saw a softness in the movements smallest brother that symbolized his nature. Fyodor's debauchery was apparent throughout with his drunken stumbles and violent, abusive behavior towards his sons. Ivan's character was perhaps the least clear, but the Apollonian locks on the man always dressed in pale blue intimate an intellectual, logical man. Near the end, a pas de trois among the three brothers embodies their relationship, their struggle, and the interdependence of their fates. Everywhere, the dancers' tireless athleticism was apparent.

As the ballet reached its close, the jailed masses reach their arms through the trellis bars, begging Alyosha for help. He covers his ears at the noise and reluctantly opens the jail bars, letting the people free. This gesture of supposed mercy quickly turns sour as the men attack him. Women on a bloody trellis are then wheeled in and peeled off of the bars, and the entire "free" population dances in a frenzy. It seems that not all are forgivable.

In the chilling finale a large wooden cross falls from the ceiling, slapping the floor, and stopping the commotion. Alyosha takes the cross on his back and climbs the stairs as the masses return to their jail cells, and the final curtain falls.

Eifman's uncanny ability to express psychological suffering through movement has been noted before in almost all of his ballets. His choice of meaty themes results in deep subject matter which allows for ample use of symbolism -- the staircase to heaven, positioned upstage, for example -- and various means of dramatic expression. The company looked in fine form, with some old faces and many new ones. We look forward to his next creation.

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