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Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg Returns to New York City Center with Eifman's "Up & Down"
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Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg Returns to New York City Center with Eifman's "Up & Down"

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Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg
(Eifman Ballet Website)
Boris Eifman, Artistic Director

Sergei Danilian and
Ardani Artists Management, Inc., Producer
(Ardani Artists Website)

At New York City Center
(New York City Center Website)

Boris Eifman’s
Up & Down

Press: Ardani Artists

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
May 22, 2015

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 many ballets have been presented in recent years at New York City Center, such as “Onegin”, “Red Giselle”, and “Rodin”.

Boris Eifman’s Up & Down (New York Premiere): Choreography by Boris Eifman, Music by George Gershwin, Franz Shubert, Alban Berg, Sets by Zinoviy Margolin, Costumes by Olga Shaishmelashvili, Lighting by Gleb Filschtinsky and Boris Eifman, Performed by Oleg Gabyshev as Psychiatrist, Lyubov Andreyeva as Patient, Jiri Jelinek as Patient’s Father, Maria Abashova as Movie Star, Dmitry Fisher as Buddy, and the Company.

Full disclosure, I have always loved watching the Boris Eifman ballets, reviewed on these pages: Onegin, Rodin, Anna Karenina, Red Giselle, and Who’s Who. Yes, they are angst-imbued, overwrought, and psychologically driven. But, that’s their appeal, a level of thought-provoking analysis for the critic. Eifman’s ballets are enjoyed in the gestalt. His fans, mostly speaking Russian in droves, filling the 55th Street sidewalk, then the theater, exude admiration and bonding. Eifman epitomizes artistic genius, with the magnanimous, ebullient persona we see, arms outstretched, returning time and again for numerous, after-show, curtain calls. In Up & Down, a psychiatrist (Oleg Gabyshev) is busy in his clinic, that’s brimming with patients in white and grey straightjackets, head braces, party hats, wound ropes, and anxiety-induced, facial gestures. Franz Shubert’s “Death and the Maiden”, “Tragic Symphony”, “String Quintet”, and “Adagio Es Dur”, followed by Alban Berg’s “Lyric Suite” and a fragment from Berg’s “Wozzek”, waft noisily in the background. The audience was mesmerized.

This is no ordinary ballet. Soon a lovely female patient (Lyubov Andreyeva) arrives with her wealthy father (Jiri Jelinek), and the psychiatrist has to be bribed with stacks of cash to take on the sad, disturbed creature. As psychiatrist and patient bond, emotionally and intimately, the psychiatrist learns from the father of an episode of past incest, cloaked in rear stage minimalist choreography. There are episodes of the patient’s experiencing an out of body identity, danced by another female lead, who closely mirrors Ms. Andreyeva. The psychiatrist, through love and support, cures and marries his patient, who then jealously and possessively forces him to depart the clinic. Beyond the stress and confines of the clinic’s walls, the psychiatrist meets a Hollywood movie star (Maria Abashova), and the patient reunites with a long-lost lover, Buddy (Dmitry Fisher). Soon the psychiatrist-patient marriage is demolished. After many Gershwin tunes, like “Lady Be Good”, “I Got Rhythm”, “Strike Up the Band”, and “Treat Me Rough”, with gorgeous flapper and swing dances, the psychiatrist, Mr. Gabyshev, implodes and is taken into the clinic, now as a patient, while his wife, Ms. Andreyeva, the original patient, thrives with her lover, Buddy.

Additional fragments of music are drawn from Strauss’ “Tritsch-Tratsch Polka”, Schoenberg’s “Verklarte Nacht”, Schubert’s “Symphony No. 9”, and Chopin’s “Prelude in E Minor”. The stark contrast of wild, dementia-driven antics and wild, alcohol-driven club dance is startling, with choreographed, lack of inhibition and exaggerated, mood differentials; the patients are restrained, and the partygoers are released. Olga Shaishmelashvili’s colorful flapper and swing dance costumes, with twirling, kaleidoscopically designed umbrellas and fanciful, clinic attire, plus Zinovy Margolin’s quickly shifting, Hollywood and nightclub sets, are all extraordinary. This ballet’s unique mixing of dreary and delicious music, as a score, could only be fashioned by Boris Eifman, who takes risks for his art. You may or may not like Mr. Eifman’s ballets, but, once he wins you over, you’ll see the entire repertoire with new focus, as a fan. All the leads tonight were outstanding in their challenging characterizations, but the ensemble wins extra kudos for morphing into high energy swing, after high energy madness. Kudos to Boris Eifman. .

Oleg Gabyshev and Lyubov Andreyeva
in Boris Eifman's "Up & Down"
Courtesy of Michael Khoury

Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg
in Boris Eifman's "Up & Down"
Courtesy of Michael Khoury

Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg
in Boris Eifman's "Up & Down"
Courtesy of Michael Khoury

Lyubov Andreyeva and Dmitry Fisher
in Boris Eifman's "Up & Down"
Courtesy of Michael Khoury

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at