5 Important Performances by Boris Eifman

5 Important Performances by Boris Eifman

The name of Boris Yakovlevich Eifman holds a special place in the world of modern choreography - he is a People's Artist, laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation, winner of many honorary theatrical awards. IngoDance expert Anastasia Isaeva recommends five creations by the choreographer that you should definitely plan on seeing.

You can see Boris Eifman's ballets in St. Petersburg, Moscow and other cities around the world. Each performance is individual and multi-layered. Thanks to this trait Eifman is often called a "philosopher choreographer". From technical point of view, his productions surprise with a variety of lifts, original dance moves, extraordinary ballet poses and unusual jumps.

Anna Karenina

One of Eifman's early performances brought him fame as a choreographer and certainly deserves attention. Original choreography, superbly selected music, abundance of hidden symbols and subtexts, the eccentricity of the last scene where Anna throws herself under the train (no spoilers!) - for beginners, a lot may seem incomprehensible and controversial, but connoisseurs will certainly enjoy what is happening on stage.

Eifman said about the heroine:

“For me, Anna was a werewolf, because two people lived in her: one was a socialite whom Karenin, her son, and those around her knew. The other was a woman who dove into the world of passions.”

Spectators should see this performance also to appreciate the magnificent design multiplied by novel choreographic solutions. Removing all the unnecessary stuff from the stage, using minimum props and minimum sets, the choreographer makes sure that the audience is not distracted from the most important thing - the dance of the artists. 

Red Giselle

The performance, revised in 2015, was staged based on the biography of Olga Spesivtseva, one of the most popular ballerinas of the early 20th century. Spesivtseva was believed to be the best performer of Giselle in the Soviet era, hence the name of the ballet.

Eifman managed to effectively combine the fate of the great ballerina and events of the difficult time in which she lived, into a single choreographic whole. Boris Eifman believes: 

“Spesivtseva was a genius Giselle. The ballerina immersed herself so deeply into the world of her character that she no longer had the strength to return back to real life: the fate of Giselle became her fate as well.”

You should definitely see this complicated idea successfully embodied in dance. 

Up & Down

The choreographer staged the performance based on the novel Tender Is the Night by Francis Scott Fitzgerald not so long ago, in 2015, and timed it for a tour in America. Here you can see a reflection of the era - the Roaring Twenties of the 20th century - and the ballet master's interpretation of the literary work. 

It’s not often that contemporary Russian choreographers create reflection performances, so you can’t afford to miss this one. Eifman managed not only to embody thoughts in a visually aesthetic dance, but also to fill the action with profound meaning, beautiful duets, a fascinating trio, memorable corps de ballet compositions:

“This performance is a tragic but, at the same time, dazzling chronicle of the spiritual death of a person. The story of how the eternal dream of happiness turns into a collapse, and an outwardly beautiful and carefree life, going on to the rhythms of jazz, turns into a nightmare."

Beyond Sin

The production is based on the novel The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Boris Eifman gravitates towards complex literary works, wrapping them in his original plastique language, decorating with intonationally perfect music, adding his own meanings and vision. All this fully applies to the ballet Beyond Sin, about which Eifman says:

“The ballet Beyond Sin is an attempt to investigate the origins of the Karamazovs' moral catastrophe, an appeal to the deep essence of the “broad” human nature, to the secrets of the life of human hearts, where “the devil fights with God”.”

The choreographer filled each character with specific plastics - high jumps, series of spins, quick change of poses of the artists; as for the emotional duets, they are distinguished not only by technique, but also by bright dramatic moments.

Russian Hamlet

The focus is on the personality of Emperor Pavel I. Chronologically, the performance is about the years when he had not yet become an emperor but was only the heir to the throne. Boris Eifman notes: 

“The main character of our performance is young Tsarevich Pavel. This is the time of his bright ambitious desires and the first tragic catastrophes. He is looking for his own answer to the eternal Hamlet’s question: "To be or not to be?”

The ballet has plenty of spectacular moments, which remain in the memory of the viewer for a long time and for which Eifman has been repeatedly praised by critics. His carefully constructed compositions with atypical poses, as well as philosophical and symbolic duets deserve a special notice. For example, the duet of Pavel and his mother - Catherine, the choreographer expressed the essence of their dramatic relationship with.