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Anna Karenina in Los Angeles

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I was hesitant to write this review, but after reading some newspaper reviews I see that I'm not entirely alone in my opinion. For the most part I like Eifman's ballets; however one should not see Anna Karenina and Red Giselle back to back. Same ballet. Since I loved Red Giselle I was ready for something new, and this wasn't it; I would have liked Anna.... more without the memory of Red Giselle fresh in my mind. Arbuzova, Markov and Turko starred in it; that's even a repeat of the Red Giselle cast I saw! (Singing Medora, Turko was very good, and they mentioned Belorussian Ballet in his bio.) There were two particularly exciting scenes. One was a masked ball in which the dancers were dressed in gold, wearing ornate gold masks. Gorgeous costumes; they could have danced the Hokey Pokey and looked good. The other was the suicide scene. There is driving modern music that gets louder and louder; the dancers are doing an equally driving dance, and you realize they are imitating a train's motions. Anna falls into their arms in her suicide leap. Her mad scene is sorta wormy; everyone is on white full length leotards and they look, well, wormy. Effective, I must say.

As I said, if I hadn't just seen Red Giselle I think I would have been bananas about Anna Karenina; I'll have to limit my assessment to "enjoyable"; I'm glad I saw it.

And by the way, how do you pronounce Eifman's name? I've heard "Ay-fman" and "Eye-fman".


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I saw this afternoon's matinee and I thoroughly enjoyed it! This was my first

experience of the Eifman Ballet, and I was pleasantly surprised. The costumes

were to die for: The scenery, the lighting and Eifman's choreography - all were

excellent. The soundtrack of this psycho-ballet drama were segmants from Tchaikovsky's "Serenade for Strings," Symphony No. 6, Suite No. 3,

"The Tempest" and other selected minor works. Eifman really gets to the heart of the matter; the story moves swiftly and the dance is quite narrative. Abruzova was wonderfully transparent, pliant and technically secure as were Turko and Markov. Eifman's conception of Anna's suicide, in the first act where she stands in the middle of little Sergei's train tracks, and the end where the corps is the

train . . . now that was as Lewis Segal said, "a coup de theatre!"

BONUS for the price: Eifman gave a 30 minute Q & A session on stage immediately after the performance! I was one of 50% of the audience that remained. It was worth it! Some of the questions were: 'Will this be available on DVD soon?' (He "hasn't yet found a company that satisfies him to do justice to his work and at the right price"). 'How do you approach the work - does the choreograpy or the music come first?' - ("Music first, meditation on the music then choreography last").

Eifman was very gracious and completely down to earth and humble. There was one elderly gentleman who, almost overcome with tears, spoke passionately in Russian from the second row. He complemented Eifman on his excellent choice of music. I sensed (as possibly most of the audience) that this old man, an ex-patriot was fully aware of Eifman's struggle and persecution under the Soviet regime, and well acquainted with his work. It was a moving experience for him to see Eifman finally successful and appreciated. Eifman profusely thanked the elderly Russian for his kind words.

What was really refreshing was that he said he's most concerned with the art of creation and the audience's love of his theatre's work, rather than the more mercenary aspects of the dance world. Two minor "issues" - there was no synopses in either of the two programs (the Music Center program or the

company program). Also, I wish that the Tchaikovsky could have been played live rather than on tape - but you can't go wrong with Svetlanov conducting

the USSR State Symphony Orchestra in Suite No. 3! A great afternoon of ballet!

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My husband and I just got home from attending this ballet and I have to say that it was beyond anything I've ever seen as far as energy and for lack of a better word, "theatrical-ness." I guess I should say also that this was the first Eifman ballet for me, as in the past when they have been in S. CA, I have been unable to attend (usually for financial reasons due to my daughter having spent every last penny on point shoes, or SI's, or other "frivolous" items.) :)

Every review I have ever read has been less than totally enthusiastic, although I heard that this week's review by Lewis Segal for the LA Times was good (I've not yet read it). I have to admit that because of the previous reviews I had read, and worry about the subject matter being appropriate for my young daughter, I had not been wild to go. But this time, my husband's friend (who had seen the ballet in the Bay Area) called and said he was sending us tickets because he wanted to see if we were as taken with it as he was -- and I am glad to report that we were.

What really struck me during the whole ballet was Eifman's musicality -- I am certain that if I were to see the steps danced sans music that I would hear the music in my brain. The training that these dancers must go through must be very intense -- they dance very quick (ok, no pot-shots, please), but I got a very distinct feeling from the musicality and the speed, along with some of the more modern (or less classical) steps, that Eifman was producing a story ballet that was almost "Balanchinesque" in parts.

The Mask piece actually had elements of good old Russian character dancing, with a modern twist, extreme musicality, and the best part was that the corps de ballet was so obviously from the Russian school. There is no company in the US that could do this ballet so well.

And I really liked the train, spotlight, snow symbolism that Eifman provided to pull the story together -- very cohesive ballet in my opinion. I will never again skip an Eifman ballet when it is in OC or LA (provided I'm home).

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