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Eifman Ballet NYC 2007

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Got my brochure today for Eifman Ballet in NYC April 13-29, 2007 at City Center

Rep includes:

Gala Opening Night

Red Giselle


Russian Hamlet

Anna Karenina

Tickets $100-35 with volume discounts


What is a must see of them? (I have seen Anna Karenina)... please do reply and share.... responses appreciated in advance.

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... but if it were me I'd be curious to see "Red Giselle."

I understand that there's a cultural bonus in Red Giselle: at one point, to Tchaikovsky's Serenade, you get to see a ballerina fall a la Balanchine.

Russian Hamlet (Beethoven/Mahler pastiche) has been especially unsuccessful in America and on other tours, which may be the reason for just two performances. However, in 2000 it received seven performances in the Bolshoi rep, five of them starring Masha Alexandrova in the role of Catherine the Great, mother of Prince Paul (the Russian Hamlet). She liked the ballet (susequently, she has frequently danced a PdD from it at Galas) and said she learned a lot from it, including how to make a lift look beautiful. She also said it helped her overcome a phobia for heights, as she had to come down from a height of 4.5 meters. Since anything associated with Masha Alexandrova, even once-removed (she is NOT in his company), must have some merit, I think I'll go have a look at it.

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Opening Night, April 13

Well, it was Friday the 13th, and the Eifman Ballet was very unlucky with its world premiere, Cassandra

(Dmitrievsky, Holst). The story involved the Trojan daughter of Priam and Hecuba. After some serpents give her the gift of prophecy, she rejects advances of Apollo (an MCP, apparently without benefit of proper Muse training, a la Balanchine). Apollo changes her gift, so no one will believe her. Troy falls. Agamemnon (same dancer as Apollo) wants her. His wife spots this interest and kills them both. Barely any applause. Dancers go off. Applause stops. Eventually the soloists and corps return to the silent stage and get some sporadic applause. The mostly Russian audience did not distinguish itself, the dancers deserved more respect.

This is the first time I've seen the company. In the second half of the evening it was very attractive in a mix of Eifman excerpts. Only one of the works on display is part of this season's rep. I don't know the full works, but Eifman surely put his best foot forward. The obvious Prima, Maria Abashova, made three appearances. First, in Who's Who, she appears with one toe shoe in hand, sits and puts it on. A Prince Charming (Yury Smekalov, her partner throughout the evening) confronts her with the other. It seems this is her first time going en pointe, so he tries to help her. She finally gets on one toe, but not up, as she is sitting on the back of the shoe! Gradually her wobbling lesson turns into a lyric PdD. She's a beauty, sort of like Farrell in Bejart. The corps dances more of the ballet. High-spirited. Next a substantial portion of Karamazovs, very strong political statement, text spoken in English. Abashova back for a bit of Anna Karenina, then the American premiere of Eifman's Pink Floyd PdD Double Voice. Then Abashova returns for Don Quixote, the Don a big part for Yury Smekalov. All of this very lively, or lyric, or terrifying (K). He moves the corps well, makes it interesting. The audience came through with significant Russian rythmic clapping (although these ex-Petersburgers are not quite up to Moscow's persistance). Boris Eifman then joined his company to perform Don Juan and Moliere. He appears to have a warm connection with his dancers, again a la Maurice Bejart.

I really enjoyed the company's emotion, and the choreography did not flag. A number of the men were virtuosic jumpers, big and accomplished partners. The star of course was Abashova. The program included detailed casting for the entire season. Here are the Abashova performances. She should be seen.

Seagull, the young ballerina (Zarechnaya): 18, 20, 21 at 8PM; 22 at 7PM.

Russian Gamlet, Catherine the Great: both performances.

Anna Karenina, Anna: 27, 28 at 8PM; 29 at 7PM.

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I went to see Red Giselle last night and I really loved it. That was a pleasant surprise after Who’s Who (eh?) and Musegate (ugh!). As I expected it was completely angst ridden and over the top but it was also very well done on every level (concept, plot development, staging, scenery, costumes & of course the dancing) and I found it to be very entertaining. I went with a friend who is a fairly regular ballet goer and an avid skating fan and we both agreed that it came about as close to ice dancing as actual dancing can get, but that’s part of Eifman’s theatricality and in this case it worked for me.

I thought all of the dancers were incredible but especially the lead ballerina in the Spessivtseva role – Nina Zmievets. Looks like she is cast as the prima ballerina Arkadina for all of Abashova’s performances as the young ballerina in the Seagull, so those should be something!

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My two cents, since I went to both (yet) the openning gala and Sunday's Red Giselle.

Hated the Kassandra - totally hated, and didn't get it, even after reading the sinopsis before and after the performance (sorry, two more cents extra, we "joked" with my best friend, former ballerina, who also works for the company that is going through the $1B cost-cutting, why the choreographer made dancers wear $80 point-shoes, there's been no pirouttes, no demi-points, not to say a point position, just swift arm swings ;-(( they could have save money on the point-shoes).

..was imressed by the second half (but to my personal taste - too much of pair acrobatics - though it's Eifman's style... but his dancers bodies and their capabilities are stunning!!!)

we were lucky to be invited to the after-show performance, and saw the dancers (it looked that his dancers are all over 6ft, and so young....)

... i was hesitant about other performances, but liked Red Giselle (despite it's acrobatics ;-))

Added after seeing two Seagulls with two different casts:

Loved the duet of Nina Zmievets & Yuriy Smekalov (Arkadina & Trigorin - prima and classic choreographer). Liked the other two, Fisher & Abashova, UNTIL saw the second cast and TOTALLY loved Oleg Gabyshev (as a new choreographer Treplev) and Ms. Sitnikova as Nina (younger dancer).

Gabyshev & Sitnikova danced with such abandonment, with such passion, so convincing and so moving that I ended up loving the ballet. Sitnikova had great "vaganova" hands, artistry and some poetry about her, when she was swinging her hands about her lover's face it reminded me the way Obrazstova danced her Juliet with Fadeyev "kissing with the hands" (hope I will not be banned from the forum).

(to my taste) Sitnikova had classical training traits in her dancing, Gabyshev - extremely passionate, moving and convincing (much physically stronger than Fisher). Markov is prescine and precise, but doesn't have the same extensions as Smekalov, who was a total "seducer", when Markov looked like a "teacher".

I don't even want to compare Zmievets with Povorozniuk, may be it was not the latter's day. Zmievets, was a total PRIMA ballerina, had a full stage control, their acrobatic with Smekalov looked so efortless and light. The latter (to my taste) didn't have the stage presence at all, required for a Prima, doesn't have a proper turn-out, can't do a good arabesk, and almost failed a couple of lifts (so it was disappointing to see her after Zmievets).

Though may be Eifman was smart and split the perfect cast in half, so that each performance had two of the best 4.

PS: just found out that Seagull is a new ballet, it's been premiered in Jan '07.

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