Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg, Russia, 2020

Tour Dates: 25th August - 6th September October, 2020

Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg was established by Boris Eifman in 1977 (the original name of the company was Leningrad New Ballet).

Tour Dates
  • 25th August - 6th September October, 2020

 

Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg was established by Boris Eifman in 1977 (the original name of the company was Leningrad New Ballet). The concept of the New Ballet was above and beyond innovative for its time: from the very beginning the vision was to develop it as an experimental laboratory, a ballet theatre of one choreographer.

The Company’s first performances, such as Two-Voice and Boomerang, had immediate success and prompted both strong interest of the audience and a lively discussion among ballet critics who recognised the development of a new trend in Russian ballet art. However, proponents of the traditional ballet school were rather reluctant to acknowledge the young choreographer’s influence. The novelty of Eifman’s approach to choice of literary basis and music for his productions, as well as the audacity of the body movement vocabulary earned him the reputation of a “dissident in choreography” that stayed with Eifman for a long time.

In the late 1970s – early 1980s the Company developed its own approach to shaping of the repertoire. The playbill included a growing number of productions based on the gems of classical literature. The choreographer worked with his company, noted for their dance intellect, to explore new genres. New productions: The Duel, The Idiot, The Mad March Day, or The Marriage of Figaro, The Legend, The Twelfth Night, Master and Margarita, Murderers and others – were distinguished by strikingly sharp choreographic patterns which aimed to express the height of passion experienced by the ballets’ characters.

Today ballet enthusiasts in Europe, Asia, the Americas and Australia admire productions of the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg: I, Don Quixote, Red Giselle, Russian Hamlet, Anna Karenina, The Seagull, Eugene Onegin, Rodin, Her Eternal Idol, Beyond Sin, Requiem, Up & Down, Tchaikovsky. PRO et CONTRA. These widely acclaimed works not only represent the highest level of artistic achievement in Russian contemporary ballet but also introduce international audiences to the spiritual heritage of Russia and the best of world culture – the inspiration behind the work of the choreographer and his dancers.

For several decades Eifman Ballet enjoyed success when performing in top venues across the globe. The Company’s ability to immerse their audiences into the boundless world of human passion, to build a strong spiritual bond, to amaze and sometimes overwhelm them by the intensity and energy of its plastique, defined and ensured its recognition.

Boris Eifman is not just a choreographer; he is very much a philosopher. He is deeply concerned about the issues of today and challenged by the mystique of creativity. Eifman speaks directly to his audience about most complex and dramatic aspects of human existence. He defines the genre as “psychological ballet”. The New York Times calls Boris Eifman the leader among living choreographers: “The ballet world in search of a major choreographer need search no more. He is Boris Eifman.”

The Company is distinguished by its brilliant technique, exceptional commitment and intellectual interpretation. Its leading dancers, top of the range ballet professionals, recognised for their achievements both nationally and internationally, including prestigious theatre awards Golden Mask and Golden Soffit and prizes of the President and Government of Russia, implement Boris Eifman’s inspirational ideas. Among them are Maria Abashova, Lyubov Andreyeva, Dmitry Fisher, Oleg Gabyshev, Sergey Volobuev and others.

2011 marked an important development for the Company when the Government of St. Petersburg decided to commence construction of the Boris Eifman Dance Academy at the initiative of the renowned choreographer. The school opened its doors for the first academic year in September 2013. The Academy complex will expand further in 2019 once construction of the St. Petersburg Children’s Dance Theatre, a new venue that will host dance festivals, contests and performances, is completed.

The Boris Eifman Palace of Dance, envisioned to become one of the world’s centres of choreographic art, is due to open in St. Petersburg in the near future. It will not only be the home for the Eifman Ballet but will also provide space and facilities to other companies and performers representing different styles and genres of dance.

Boris Eifman’s vision and mission is to create unique repertoire of ballet productions, which stems from the best examples of Russian psychological theatre, to explore innovative forms of choreography of the XXI century and broaden the boundaries of ballet art.

Artistic Director: Boris Eifman
People’s Artist of Russia, Laureate of the State Prizes of the Russian Federation

Boris Eifman, the founder and creator of his own theatre, his own style, and his own ballet universe, who is called “one of the leading choreographers in the world” and an “amazing magician of the theatre”, was born in 1946 in Siberia, and from early childhood he wanted to express his feelings and his thoughts in body language, in dance. He himself would later say, “For me, ballet is more than a profession. It is a means of existence, my mission on this earth. Using its resources, I am compelled to convey what is given to me from on high. Most likely, I would simply suffocate on my emotions if I didn’t have the possibility of expressing them through art. For me, choreography is art that is deeply religious, in the broadest sense of the word.”

The innate sense of movement and the “instinct to compose” brought him to the Leningrad Conservatory, where he studied in the Choreography Department, and then to the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, where he worked for ten years as a choreographer, composing new works for student performances. Finally, in 1977, he formed his own ballet ensemble. This is the moment when the Eifman story began, as, with his talent, with his blood and sweat, with his energy, dedicating himself a full twenty four hours a day, he began to create his own theatre

Eifman brilliantly combined cutting-edge achievements in the world of ballet with what he learned in the academic school of classical Russian choreography, to which he traces his roots. “What I do can be called the dance of emotions, free dance, a new language, in which classical ballet, modern dance, ecstatic impulses and many other things are interwoven…,” he said at the time. His dancers, who had an exclusively academic grounding, had to acquire a new vocabulary of body movement. It was a completely different kind of choreography, whose fundamental principle came into being as the troupe was formed by Eifman.

In the course of time, his ballet ensemble became a ballet theatre, and this change in names reflects the essential formula of Eifman’s creative method. As an artist whose natural inclination is toward the theatre, he is interested in choreographing not only variations of movement but also transparent internal actions as well as one or another overriding idea connected with a performance. “I create ballets of a different kind, where self-expression becomes the subject and in which there is drama, philosophy, characters and an idea. And I am sure that this is the ballet of the future. Believe me, many of my young colleagues will follow the road that I have taken.  This road leads eventually to man.”

It’s a man who’s viewed by Eifman as the main subject and interest of art that has power over people’s hearts and is capable of addressing the soul. For Eifman, ballet is a means of contemplation, or, as he puts it, an “opportunity, through movement, not only to express some sort of form and line, but to convey a flood of emotions, energy, ideas…”

A distinct feature of Eifman’s theatrе, its trademark, is that almost all of his performances have a plot and, often, a literary source. This corresponds fully to his artistic credo: “I am not saying that I don’t concern myself with the choreographic text itself and its level, as well as the degree of imagination or the perfected form… But if I need a literary base, it means that I am looking for an opportunity to plunge into some sort of realm, one that is familiar to me and to my audience, and, in the familiar, I try to discover and reveal the unexplored…”

It is this penetration into the realm of the unexplored – in the choreography and in the sphere of ideas – that is arguably the hallmark of Boris Eifman. When he turns to the literary works, or to the stories of life of Moliere, Paul I (the Emperor of Russia), Tchaikovsky or Rodin, Eifman always sees nuances that no one else has noticed, he finds that which is capable of astonishing, he detects new meanings. In visual metaphors of movement, that can be compared to a figurative cipher of dreams, in which hazy fantasies and impulses take on visual forms, Eifman externalizes what is at the heart of a literary text or of an artist’s life history. Eifman’s theatre is often called a psychological one. His ballets can be named plastic psychoanalysis, in the course of which the psychological depth of the characters and the stories – no matter fictional or real – is being disclosed.

When Eifman turns to the works of great writers or to the lives of geniuses and translates them into the language of ballet, this is immersion, through the physical, in the psychic, through the body, in the soul, through words, in ideas. His unique lexicon and conceptual, authorial interpretations are a breakthrough into that fantastic dimension where the boundlessness of inner worlds comes to life.

Text by Tatiana Boborykina

TCHAIKOVSKY. PRO ET CONTRA

A ballet by Boris Eifman
Music: Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Sets: Zinovy Margolin
Costumes: Olga Shaishmelashvili, Vyacheslav Okunev
Light: Alexander Sivaev, Boris Eifman

“Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is a creator, whose music has guided me for decades and given me creative energy. His works immerse the listener in the indomitable flow of feelings, awaken dreams and fantasies, transforming and subliming a man.”

I have always tried to understand why the composer that reached enormous fame and completely fulfilled his gift, created such tragic music? There is no doubt: the main source of the torment that withered his soul was the oppressive awareness of his own otherness, interpreted by Tchaikovsky as a curse. But not only had the fatal inner split doomed the composer to unimaginable suffering. The inevitability and absolute power of fate, the hostility of the world, the eternal loneliness of a trembling soul – all this deprived Tchaikovsky of even illusory hope of finding peace and happiness.

How a great artist creates his masterpieces is always a mystery. It is just as difficult to understand this as it is to fathom his private life. First of all, where lays the dividing line between commonplace trivialities and the artist’s creative work? In his destiny these two components are intertwined. Joy and suffering, victory and defeat, the heights of ratio and storms of passion – all is to be laid upon the altar of great achievements in art. This is the destiny of any artist; he is constantly surrounded by enthusiastic admirers and detractors, aficionados and slanderers.

Tchaikovsky’s life is a non-stop dialogue with himself; his music is a confession, full of pain and anger.”

Boris Eifman

UP & DOWN

A ballet by Boris Eifman
Based on the Tender Is the Nightnovel by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Music: George Gershwin, Franz Schubert, Alban Berg, Arnold Schoenberg
Sets: Zinovy Margolin
Costumes: Olga Shaishmelashvili
Light: Gleb Filshtinsky, Boris Eifman

Premiere: January 27, 2015

Footage: St. Petersburg State University of Film and Television
Director: Sergey Ovcharov

 “Cruel paradoxes form the fabric of our fate. Wealth can be more unbearable than the most terrible poverty, and a clear and sharp mind is vulnerable to the chaos of the unconscious. Francis Scott Fitzgerald, whose novel Tender is the Night inspired me to create the ballet Up & Down, was well aware of this universal truth. The ballet Up & Down is a tragic and dazzling chronicle of a person’s spiritual death.  This is a story about the collapse of an aspiration for happiness; and about how an outwardly beautiful and carefree life flowing to the rhythms of jazz becomes a nightmare.

The ballet’s main character – a charming socialite and talented psychiatrist – has everything to realize his gift and make a great academic career. However, true harmony is unattainable in the world dominated by money and dark instincts.

The kingdom of luxury, which the doctor immerses into, turns out a perilous morass. An attempt to find balance between his inner world and the reality ends in total failure. Concession follows concession – and the character loses his identity, as he practically abandons his profession and becomes a nurse for his half-insane wife. His mind, charisma and career fall into pieces. Having lost everything, the doctor becomes an outcast in the society where there is no place for the weak.

A person that neglects his mission and destroys his talent is doomed, and a compromise with the treacherous world full of temptations is invariably ruinous. The ballet Up & Down is there to remind us of the fatal consequences of a man’s self-betrayal.”

Boris Eifman

 
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