I first discovered The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg while on a year-long study abroad in Russia in the 1990s. The ballet, very controversial for the time and location, “Tchaikovsky – The Mystery of Life and Death” was one of the most thrilling and memorable dance productions I have ever experienced.
Since then, I have seen many of the groundbreaking and truly original productions by Russia’s leading contemporary ballet company, including “Red Giselle” and “Onegin.”
Led by founder and artistic director Boris Eifman, The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg is renowned among ballet lovers worldwide, known for its high artistic level, creativity, while still reminding audiences of the rich heritage of the Russian ballet. Eifman’s works not only showcase some of the world’s top dancers, each production features beautiful music selections, elaborate special effects and settings and inventive costumes.
Over the past two weeks, Southern California dance enthusiasts had the chance to see The Eifman Ballet at its finest, with the West Coast premiere of “Up and Down” at the Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa and the dramatic performance of “Rodin” at The Music Center in Los Angeles, presented by longtime production partner Sergei Danilian of Ardani Artists.
Marking the company’s eighth visit to Segerstrom Center, “Up and Down” continues Eifman’s in-depth exploration of his characters’ true being, as well as today’s most relevant philosophical and spiritual questions.
“The main theme for me is always the individual and his inner world.” Specific to “Up and Down,” he explained, “I am attracted by the 1920s – this was a brilliant Jazz Age, an era of freedom and unrestrained rhythms.… ‘Up and Down’ tells a universal story of human ascent and degradation: the heroine’s ascent to success and the downward career of the protagonist.”
In “Rodin.” the artist explores the tragic nature of genius through the life and creative work of French sculptor Auguste Rodin, and his student, lover and muse, Camille Claudel. Eifman combines innovative movement with classical Russian choreographic technique to bring to life their tragic story.
The Music Center Vice President of Programming Renae Williams Niles comments, “As a leading dance making voice, Eifman has a profound ability to tell the story of love, angst and loss through extraordinarily emotional movement that is gorgeously interpreted by some of the most awe-inspiring dancers. His distinctive dance vocabulary takes audiences to another realm, making us feel every bit of pain and joy that life brings.”
Siberian-born Eifman has been honored with Russia’s prestigious Golden Mask Award for his works and lifetime achievement. He is a four-time recipient of the St. Petersburg Theater Award, The Golden Sofit. His distinctions include the Triumph Award, the Russian State Award for contribution to the development of the performing arts, induction into France’s Order of Arts and Letters, the distinguished title of The People’s Artist of Russia and a professorship at the prestigious Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet.
It goes without saying that ballet lovers who have seen The Eifman Ballet will anxiously await the next projects by creative master Boris Eifman.