A survey of reviews of Russia's Eifman Ballet's 2012 tour throws up descriptions from "passionate integrity" to "desperate, overblown cliché". Such strong, strident and conflicting responses suggest that this is a company that nobody comes away indifferent to. Judging by interviews, footage and commentary on the company, this is exactly the kind of response that would satisfy its founder and sole choreographer, Boris Eifman.
The good news is that Melbourne and Sydney audiences will have the chance to make up their own minds as Eifman Ballet heads our way in August/September. The company is bringing productions of Anna Karenina and Tchaikovsky here as part of an extensive touring program that has already taken in London, New York, major European cities and even Finland. It also boasts a company of 50, lavish sets, drama, passion and an aim of awakening emotional involvement in its audiences. (Story continues below photo.)
The driving force behind these extravaganzic productions is Siberian-born Boris Eifman, a choreographer who has conducted his career against a backdrop of political and social change that has served to position his work as a commentary on Russian culture and society in flux. Eifman considers himself fortunate to have made work through three distinct eras of Russian history.
Eifman founded his company in St Petersburg in 1977, when Russia was still under Communist rule. He called it the New Leningrad Ballet, in line with his desire to make new and challenging work that broke from 19th century classical traditions. He sought to make something relevant and quintessentially Russian, with a new vocabulary, informed strongly by classical ballet technique, but subverting some of its expectations and conventions.
Before long, Eifman was being asked to explain himself. The content of the ballets was not to the liking of the soviet authorities and his work was subjected to monitoring and censorship. But as the USSR dissolved and gave way to the era of perestroika, the moment was ripe for Eifman to find success.
Over time, not only has the Eifman Ballet gained acceptance in Russia, it has become an institution. . . .
This is an excerpt from an article in the August/September issue of ‘Dance Australia’. Don’t miss the full story and pictures: buy ‘Dance Australia’ today!