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“The ballet world in search of a major choreographer need search no more. He is Boris Eifman…”
Anna Kisselgoff, „The New York Times“
Boris Eifman – Artistic Director of St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet, People’s Artist of Russia, the Laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation, the laureate of the Golden Mask and the Golden Soffit awards, the holder of the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 4th, 3rd and 2nd class.
Boris Eifman, the founder and creator of his own theater, 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 theater”, says about the ballet, “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.”Loe edasi
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 is a completely different kind of choreography, whose fundamental principle came into being as the troupe was formed by Eifman.
As an artist whose natural inclination is toward the theater, 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.”
This assertion is in tune with the ideas of the French reformer Jean-Georges Noverre, who saw man as the main subject and interest of art, and who endeavored to transform ballet into a phenomenon that would have power over people’s hearts and would be capable of addressing the soul. As it was for Noverre, who contended that “the stage is a canvas on which the ballet master imprints his own ideas”, 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 works that are familiar even to unsophisticated members of the audience, or to the stories of life of Moliere, Paul I (the Emperor of Russia), Tchaikovsky or Rodin, it would be hard to expect any new revelations in them. But in the well-known novels and plays, in the lines of verse that we know by heart, Eifman sees nuances that no one else has noticed, he finds that which is capable of astonishing, he detects new meanings.
The performances of Boris Eifman may not be the “pure dance” that adherents of plotless choreography talk about. At the same time, his style has nothing in common with that of the “ballet dramas” of the socialist realist era, in which the pantomime was at times too literal an illustration of the word and the plot predominated over the dancing. A true reading of literature always goes beyond the words. And it is there, in a different dimension of the text, somewhere between the lines and the letters, that Eifman finds the silent movement of ideas characteristic of ballet. The choreographer externalizes what is at the heart of a literary text or of an artist’s life history and turns it into visual metaphors of movement that can be compared to a figurative cipher of dreams, in which hazy fantasies and impulses take on visual forms.
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 it is not the story that comes to life but the boundlessness of inner worlds.
Boris Eifman’s ballet Rodin tells about the life and work of two great sculptors: Auguste Rodin and his disciple, mistress and Muse – Camille Claudel.
The story of life and love of Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel is an amazing tale about an incredibly dramatic alliance of two artists where everything was entwined: passion, hatred and artistic jealousy. Spiritual and energy exchange between the two sculptors was an outstanding phenomenon: being so close to Rodin, Camille was not only an inspiration for his work helping him find a new style and create masterpieces, she also impetuously went through the development of her own talent becoming a great master of sculpture herself. Her beauty, her youth and her genius – all this was sacrificed to her beloved man.
After breaking up with Claudel the artist stays with devoted but unloved Rose Beuret. Camille tries to find her escape in work, but art critics do not accept her sculptures. In despair, Claudel destroys most of her works and plunges into the darkness of insanity. The wretched woman’s soul is being incinerated by pathological hatred towards her former teacher and lover, who, as Camille believes, has stolen her life and talent.
This new ballet reflects Rodin’s longing for his Muse, torments of his conscience, as well as Camille's delirium caused by the mental illness and saturated with painful obsessions – or rather that of the insane Erinys that the ruthless fate has turned her into.
In our performance, using the language of dance, we talk about passion, inner struggle and despair - of all those human spirit phenomena that were brilliantly expressed by Rodin and Camille in bronze and marble. To turn a moment carved in stone into an unrestrained, emotionally rich stream of body movements is what I was striving for while creating this new ballet performance.
Rodin is a reflection on the extreme price that people of genius have to pay for the creation of eternal masterpieces. And, of course, it is a reflection on those torments and mysteries of creative process that will always be of concern to any artist.
“You don’t have to be an amateur of modern choreography or of Boris Eifman’s theatre in particular. You just need to love the magic of the dance and theatre, as this performance is going to be called a masterpiece. It enchants you like a rare exhibit in Hermitage or Louvre. It is as plastic as clay, as majestic as bronze, as streamlined as marble, as expressive as ex libris.
Maria Kingisepp, "Izvestia"
“‘Rodin’ succeeds overall in depicting two timeless themes: the relationship between art and artist, and the terrible price of genius. While the story is inspired by Rodin’s sculpture and narrated by composers of his era, it is Eifman and his dancers that provide the emotional color - by telling a side of the story that only dance can tell.”
Meghan Feeks, "Edgenewyork"
“Eifman skillfully used selections from Ravel, Saint-Saëns, Massenet, Debussy and Satie to accompany the action. His choreography is full of big jumps that land in unexpected ways and movements that feature extreme upper body torque against classical ballet legs. He knows how to fill a stage with action. The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg is refreshing in its over-the-top theatrical flourishes. While most dance troupes nowadays veer toward self-examination and concept, Boris Eifman is an unapologetic romantic.”
Joel Benjamin, "Theaterscene"
“Boris Eifman has captured the spirit of the tale. I predict it will be seen as one of the great ballets of the 21st century.”
Darrell Wood, "NYC Dance Stuff"
“With its frenzy of movement and crazed pas de deux, this piece is a solid addition to the repertoire of Russian choreographer Boris Eifman.” “Eifman’s soloists are fully committed to the frenzy of movement. Lyubov Andreyeva portrays Camille Claudel with unabashed intensity, her endless, finely drawn limbs unfailingly eloquent; she is aptly partnered through acrobatic pas de deux by Oleg Gabyshev, a fine presence as Rodin. Alongside them, Nina Zmievets, a company star, lends weight and simplicity to the role of Rose.”
Laura Cappelle, "The Financial Times"
“Expressive choreography, powerful dramaturgy.” “This is undoubtedly the best Eifman’s work.”
Nicole Duault, "Le Journal du Dimanche"
“Of the ballet choreographers making narrative works for major stages, Russian Romantic Boris Eifman is virtually the only one totally in touch with the 21st century.” “Eifman’s large, versatile St. Petersburg company remains faultless.”
Lewis Segal, "The Los Angeles Times"
“It is, at every turn, audacious, inventive and stunningly beautiful.”
Hedy Weiss, "Chicago Sun-Times"
“A visual feast” “Boris Eifman is a phenomenon. He is the choreographer that cynical, hard-nosed dance critics love to hate, but whom audiences shower with adoration. And as for my full disclosure – I admire his work.”
Paula Citron, "The Globe and Mail"
“His ballet takes its audience on a breathless whirlwind journey… However the most impressive memories were in watching how Eifman, Russia’s most renowned contemporary choreographer, creates his own works of art in a similar way to Rodin himself. Taking the human body rather than clay, he magically manipulates it into extraordinary and stunning shapes and angles. His style is quite unique and the results are always beautiful.”
Margaret Willis, "Bachtrack"
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