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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Performance Reviews
New York City Center
United States
New York City
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New York, NY

Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg - Thirtieth Anniversary Gala

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 13, 2007
New York City Center
130 West 56th Street
(Audience Entrance is on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
(Entrance for Studios and Offices is on West 56th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019
About the Author:

Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg
Thirtieth Anniversary
(Eifman Ballet/Ardani Artists Website)
Boris Eifman, Artistic Director
Sergei Danilian and
Ardani Artists Management, Inc., Producer

At City Center
(City Center Website)

Opening Night Gala
Cassandra (World Premiere)
Libretto, Choreography, Lighting by Nikita Dmitrievsky

Selection of Eifman Ballets
Boris Eifman, Choreographer

Soloists: Maria Abashova, Elena Kuzmina, Natalia Povorozniuk,
Anastassia Sitnikova, Nina Zmievets, Yuri Ananyan,
Dmitry Fisher, Oleg Gabyshev, Andrey Kasyanenko,
Ivan Kozlov, Oleg Markov, Yuri Smekalov

Press: Ellen Jacobs Associates
Some Eifman Ballet Program Notes:

Boris Eifman, Artistic Director, Choreographer, and Director, has created over 40 ballets. He has won all the highest awards in the arts in Russia and was inducted into France's Order of Arts and Letters. Eifman is known to fuse classic ballet with contemporary choreography and is fascinated with the magic of genius and the realm of the human psyche. Eifman stresses the theatrical impact of his productions, one ruled by emotions.

The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg has been geared for a continuous, creative process. Eifman has produced ballets to rock music, and he has also created ballets about Tchaikovsky and Moliere. He emphasizes psychoanalysis through movement and the energy of mass action scenes. Eifman has also designed ballets around Shakespearean theater, such as "Russian Hamlet" and "The Twelfth Night", plus the one-act "Musagète" for New York City Ballet. "Anna Karenina?" was Eifman's last NY production at City Center. (Program Notes).
(See an Exclusive Interview with Boris Eifman).

ACT I: Cassandra (World Premiere): Libretto, Choreography, and lighting by Nikita Dmitrievsky, Music by Gustav Holst, Costume Consultant: Holly Hynes, Performed by Elena Kuzmina as Cassandra, Ilya Osipov as Helenus, Yuri Ananyan as Apollo, Agamemnon, King of Mycenae, Natalia Povorozniuk as Clytemnestra, and the Company. After Cassandra and her twin brother, Helenus, lie sleeping in a meadow near Apollo's temple, they are able to communicate with nature and animals. Apollo is attracted to Cassandra, but rejected, and she loses her credibility and eloquence. She sees the future as a madwoman, and Apollo is present in these prophecies.

Cassandra sees her own death, as she sleeps, and the death of Hector and Agamemnon, prior to a ritual dance. When Troy falls to Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, this King wins Cassandra, who is a threat to Clytemnestra in the battle for the throne. Cassandra gets Agamemnon, and they are both murdered by Clytemnestra. (Program Notes)

ACT II: Who's Who, Music by Rachmaninoff, Performed by Maria Abashova, Yuri Smekalov, and the Company.

Karamazovs, Music by Rachmaninoff, Performed by Nina Zmievets and Yuri Ananyan.

Karamazovs, Music by Wagner, Performed by Dmitry Fisher, Ivan Kozlov, and the Company.

Anna Karenina, Music by Tchaikovsky, Performed by Maria Abashova, Yuri Smekalov, and the Company.

Double Voice, (American Premiere) Music by Pink Floyd, Performed by Natalia Povorozniuk and Oleg Gabyshev.

Don Quixote, Music by Minkus, Performed by Maria Abashova, Yuri Smekalov, and the Company.

Don Juan & Moliere, Music by Mozart, Performed by Boris Eifman and the Company.

(Read about the Myth of Cassandra).

Tonight's Opening Night Eifman Ballet Gala, celebrating the company's thirtieth anniversary, included two acts, beginning with the world premiere of Nikita Dmitrievsky's one-act Cassandra. This choreographer is a protégé of Eifman, and his work exuded the emotions and athletics that one associates with Eifman, but with less intensity and compelling drama. Cassandra, a prophet who betrays and is betrayed, a prophet who dreams of her own demise and the tragedies of Troy, is danced by Elena Kuzmina with Graham-esque angularity and angst. In fact, the choreographed contractions and releases of the torso and arms were significantly evocative of the modern dance genre (Mr. Dmitrievsky was trained in Graham technique, afro-modern, and jazz). The swords were heavy and the costumes light, and Holst's score made the action searing and surreal, but without the texture and depth that are signature Eifman.

Act II included eight excerpts of previous Eifman ballets, with the scenes from Anna Karenina the most riveting, including the masked ball, the pas de deux, and the train scene. This was a long act, crammed with eclectic moods and electric motion. And, this was an endless flow of virtuosic flow of company talent. To read about the full ballet, Who's Who?, click here. Two Excerpts from The Karamazovs were next, scored to Rachmaninoff and Wagner. In the first, prison bars separate lovers, Nina Zmievets and Yuri Ananyan. With a great deal of acrobatics and elements of unrequited love, the dancers overcome the bars of separation. In the second, the company, plus Dmitry Fisher and Ivan Kozlov, command the stage en masse, with energy, sharpness, and angular imagery.

The excerpts, as stated above, from Anna Karenina, were compelling and illustrative of the imagination and daring of Boris Eifman. Double Voice, an American premiere set to music of Pink Floyd, was danced by Natalia Povorozniuk and Oleg Gabyshev. This highly erotic pas de deux, set to pulsating rock, was too much in contrast to the Eifman repertoire, considering the already contrasting Act I. Don Quixote was danced by Maria Abashova and Yuri Smekalov. Don Quixote was no bumbling fool chasing windmills, but rather a crazed, institutionalized loner. Maria Abashova, Kitri, and Mr. Smekalov danced to the familiar Minkus score, with hints of Petipa merging with Eifman's trademark touch.

Don Juan & Moliere ended the festivities, with Eifman, himself, as Don Juan, seated at a giant table, as his company voraciously ate invisible food. Mr. Eifman looked glorious and glorified, as he stood and sat down again with his signature arms wide-spread. This is an Artistic Director who loves his craft and loves his company.

Kudos to Boris Eifman, and kudos to Ardani Artists for once again bringing this unique repertoire to New York. (See Eifman 2007 Touring Schedule).
Eifman's 'Anna Karenina'

Eifman's "Anna Karenina"

Photo © & courtesy of Dmitry Solobev

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