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Eifman Ballet vs. Others

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Hi everyone,

I was just in Shanghai and on a whim attended the Eifman Ballet's performance. I had never been to a ballet other than The Nutcracker before (who hasn't) but was blown away. The costumes were vivid, the dancing was exciting and beautiful, the whole production was spectacular.

I want to see more but am entirely at a loss as to what I just watched. Is that considered a traditional ballet? Or more a show that utilizes ballet techniques and choreography? What would be the main differences between Eifman Ballet and say, The New York City Ballet? Are there other companies that do similar style shows to Eifman? In the US? New York area?

Sorry for the incredibly ignorant questions. Just a newcomer who liked what he saw and wants to learn more.

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Please! Don't apologize!

Some readers who know me from reading my posts will be surprised that I haven't actually seen Eifman on its various visits to New York. People who know me better will chalk that up to what I admit to my prejudiced, parochial snobbery. (Shame on moi!) I tell myself that it's good for me to go once, but then I answer back that it doesn't sound like my thing. I am drawn to ballets that don't depend on overt theatricality (which is, in and of itself, not a bad thing at all), but instead offer strong choreographic content in response to the music.

Which doesn't mean that Eifman isn't good at what it does.

By comparison, in most of its repertory, New York City Ballet will look stripped down and sleek. Many of its best ballets (and its best ballets, IMO, are Balanchine's) are done in simple costumes, even just leotards. But the invention of steps and patterns never fails to fascinate me. Over the past almost 30 years, NYCB has acquired many ballets by a wide range of choreographers, but the core of its rep is still Balanchine and the more show-biz-oriented Jerome Robbins, augmented by Martins (generally with a contemporary edge) and Wheeldon (more eclectic).

ABT, especially in its seasons at the Met, offers something in between. It offers grand productions of the 19th Century classics. Not all ballet goers are satisfied with the productions themselves, but we do keep going back. smile.png

I hope others will respond to your question. I realize my answer is very slanted, and it certainly isn't the only opinion.

You may glean some impressions as you read though the forums. Please continue to ask questions.

Welcome, phoenix, to BalletAlert! tiphat.gif

Editing to add:

You posted this in a forum "Ballet in China." Even though you first encountered the Eifman Ballet in Shanghai, it is not a Chinese company, so I'm moving your post and my response out and giving them a topic of their own.

Edited by carbro
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Is that considered a traditional ballet? Or more a show that utilizes ballet techniques and choreography?

You make an interesting distinction here. On one level, all ballets "utilize ballet techniques and choreography," but I think what you're wondering about is the importance of the technique compared to other aspects of the work. Pacific Northwest Ballet (my hometown company) has just finished a production of Don Quixote, a ballet that would probably be described as traditional (an example of the grand classical tradition in the art form). It exemplifies the combination of technical dancing and theatrical staging that we find in most 19th century works when they are performed in their entirety. On one level, it is probably very like the work you saw by Eifman (you don't mention the specific piece, so I cannot say for sure), and as Carbro discusses above, it is very unlike the more streamlined work of neo-classical choreographers like Balanchine, whose first commitment was always to movement. Although Balanchine made emotionally evocative works, some conventionally theatrical works, and even some narrative works, those qualities always came after the movement itself, and in most cases, were a product of the movement -- for him, it's all about the dancing. But I think you would recognize a similar physical intensity in both repertories. Eifman pushes the edges of classical movement in some of the same ways that Balanchine did -- with a different goal in mind, certainly, but the kinesthetic experience is similar.

For me, Eifman's theatricality is a bit over the top, but I think that's partly a function of the stories he's chosen to tell as well as the way he's told them.

Sorry for the incredibly ignorant questions. Just a newcomer who liked what he saw and wants to learn more.

Don't apologize for asking -- if you don't ask, you'll never find out.

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