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Eifman in Boston -- 3 Reviews


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Two total pans and one rave from Boston. Did anyone go to see Eifman?

`Russian Hamlet' shouldn't be


Five minutes into the Eifman Ballet's performance of ``Russian Hamlet: The Son of Catherine the Great'' Wednesday night at the Wang Theatre, I had the same sinking feeling I had at Boston Ballet's ``The Hunchback of Notre Dame,'' presented just a year ago on the same stage. I knew I was in for yet another overwrought, pretentious story ballet that would test the limits of my patience and offer little in terms of entertainment or psychological insight.

This definite dud was choreographed by the legendary Boris Eifman, artistic director of the St. Petersburg-based company. His most egregious error in ``Russian Hamlet'' is a naive misunderstanding of the scores he has chosen to generate the numerous scenes in both acts.

Few choreographers are willing to tackle Beethoven or Mahler; Eifman has taken both and arranged a cheap pastiche of canned music for his limited movement vocabulary.

A 'Hamlet' with flash, but lacking soul


Russians have never shied away from grand themes in the arts. Think of ''War and Peace,'' ''Boris Godunov,'' and, in the dance realm, the splendid collaborations of Tchaikovsky and Petipa.

What Petipa and Boris Eifman have in common is a taste for spectacle. ''Taste'' is also what separates the great 19th-century master from the contemporary choreographer who has brought his 25-year-old St. Petersburg-based troupe to Boston

Eifman's work borders on the vulgar. His is a distinctly European sensibility, akin to that of Maurice Bejart. His choreography is full of hyperbole and histrionics; drama and narrative are its core. The American balletomane's preference, in general, is for understatement and musicality. You have to leave America behind to enter Eifman's world..



Most choreographers might find translating the story of Don Juan to the ballet stage challenging enough.

In his ''Don Juan & Moliere,'' however, Boris Eifman not only portrays the fictional Spanish rake but the great French comic dramatist who helped immortalize him as well, creating parallel stories that unfold in tandem.

The good news is that he pulls it off, and brilliantly at that.

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I saw Hamlet on the opening night, and I'm afraid I must agree with the reviews. I didn't like the ballet, but the dancers were excellent, as usual.

After the Levitating Head in Red Giselle a few years ago, I thought the Levitating Skull in Hamlet was quite symbolic... At times, the ballet looked like it was hastily put together using bits and pieces of old works.

It is interesting that the Wang Center was only

about half full--quite a departure from full houses a few years ago.

Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to see Don Juan: from the review, it looks interesting. Perhaps in Chicago later this week...

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Hi, Ilya -- haven't read you in a while. I'm very glad you've joined us -- thanks for posting that.

I haven't found any reviews in Chicago yet. I'll post them when I do. If you see the company in Chicago, I hope you'll post about that, too.

The Chicago preview made it sound as though the company had a big following there -- and more general than the Russian audience.

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