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Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg - The Seagull
-Onstage with the Dancers

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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)

The Seagull (New York Premiere)
Choreography by Boris Eifman

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

Review by Dr. Robert E. Zlokower
April 18, 2007
Originally Published on ExploreDance.com


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).




The Seagull (NY Premiere): Music by Sergei Rachmaninoff and Alexander Skriabin, Ballet Version by Boris Eifman, Based on the Play by Anton Chekhov, Set Design by Zinovy Margolin, Lighting Design by Boris Eifman and Gleb Filshtinsky, Costumes by Natalia Zuzkevich, Olga Kulizhnova, and Daria Prokhorova, Consultants: Slyde (Sylvain Le Hesran) and Maxim Shakhov, Performed by Nina Zmievets as Arkadina, Dmitri Fisher as Treplev, Maria Abashova as Zarechnaya, and Yuri Smekalov as Trigorin.

The setting of "The Seagull" has been changed from a country estate to a ballet hall, where a renowned choreographer, Trigorin, clashes with an innovator, Treplev. Zarechnaya, a young dancer, also competes with Arkadina, a prima ballerina. The themes of Eifman's new ballet concern love, career, the quest for new art forms, and values. The ties to the play are in the fates of the leads, both personal and artistic, so the ties are emotional rather than literal. (Program Notes).

Eifman has drawn from Chekhov, here, after drawing from Tolstoy (Anna Karenina) and Dostoyevsky (The Karamazovs). To begin, I found this new Eifman ballet somewhat confusing, as the setting and plot changed from country estate to the ballet world, with minimal program notes. Arkadina (Nina Zmievets), the "seasoned" dancer (Treplev's mother), did not seem much older than her son (Dmitri Fisher), a youthful choreographer. Their pas de deux were similar to those of Arkadina and Trigorin (Yuri Smekalov), the choreographer, with angular and stretched limbs. The fourth dancer in this drama, Zarechnaya (Maria Abashova), who struggles for her lover, Treplev, is seen in similar choreography as the mother-son acrobatics. However, if the viewer can repress the need for thematic details, this new production has numerous nuances that entertain and engage.

As Arkadina collapses, as Treplev persists, as Trigorin dominates, and as Zarechnaya struggles, the solo, duo, and trio dances exude passion and pathos. One of the most devilish moments occurs when Zarechnaya is taunted with paint balls. Also devilish is Trigorin's newfound obsession with his protégé, Zarechnaya, as she serves as a target from every direction. Arkadina may be her own target, unwilling to face the ravages of time, while the two male dancers become the products of their own actions.

Perhaps Eifman sees himself as the youthful choreographer, still striving for innovation and rebellion. In fact, Eifman introduces a hip-hop scene, so Treplev can dazzle the dancers. Although hip-hop is not my favorite genre, I found this scene daring and driven, choreographed for au courant appreciation. Another invention is the use of a flexible steel box, in which Treplev emerges and disappears, solo, as this ballet opens and closes in a nod to structure. As always, Eifman uses bent elbows and knees, sliding limbs along the stage, luscious lifts and dramatic stretches, and imagery of females sliding head to toe down their partners' backs. The Soloists and company are incredibly limber and prepared, given the tight travel schedules and the diversity of this season's Eifman repertoire, a 30th Anniversary of numerous excerpts and full-length works. Kudos to Boris Eifman, and kudos to Ardani Artists. (See Eifman 2007 Touring Schedule).


Boris Eifman's "The Seagull"

Photo courtesy of Sergei Danilian

 

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at zlokower@bestweb.net