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Eifman at Orange County

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Oh, for goodness sake!

Let me put it this way: it ain't no "Sleeping Beauty". The casting sheet said we saw Gabyshev as Onegin, Abashova as Tatyana, Fisher as Lensky, Povoroznyuk as Olga, and Volobuev as Colonel; the program book said otherwise. I'm glad I knew the story of Onegin because the synopsis consisted of quotes from Pushkin's novel and was hard for me to understand. My husband didn't pay much attention to it, but after the steamy first act he couldn't get to it fast enough!

I've always liked Eifman, but with each ballet he makes it harder for me to do so. I thought this was the least balletic of his ballets that I've seen. It's not the fact that the women weren't on pointe, but I think because they weren't Eifman was freer to make movements that were ungainly, off balance, turned in as much as turned out, etc. His other ballets definitely have these qualities but always with a ballet basis. There were 2 acts and I found them as different as night and day. Act I was perked up by the Disco segment; great music (sounded like Thomas Neuman) and fun dancing. Lensky's murder was done to jazz music and the corps was boogying. At the moment when Onegin kills Lensky the audience broke into applause. Does that give you the impression that they didn't have a clue?! They behaved themselves perfectly except for that moment; guess all that pent up applause was too much for them to control.

At the intermission I was tempted to go home but I just can't leave an Eifman ballet. And I was rewarded for staying; Act II was wonderful, not so much because there was more balletic dancing but because the choreography spoke volumes about the dramatic story. There was a ghost scene, and I think it was Lensky's ghost; whomever it was he was extremely scary and effective. The Colonel is blind, which I found interesting and which made for a very different final scene as his movements missed Onegin by inches. Tatyana's love for the Colonel isn't as well defined as it is in Cranko's ballet and I missed that.

Hard for me to judge the dancing because it wasn't as balletic as I like but they seemed extremely accomplished to me. Besides being a dancer you have to be an actor for Eifman and they certainly were. The ghost/Lensky? had a look about him that made him more sinister than expected. All the other were very good.

I wouldn't see this one again but I'm glad I saw it once.


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