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Eifman in Paris - 25 january to 2 february

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After Nijinski from Neumeier, presented by Hamburg ballet at beginning of year at palais Garnier, another mythical figure stemming from Russian ballets is honored and becomes the central figure of a ballet, Olga Spessivtseva.

If the names of the dancers are not clearly appointed, and presented in the form of entity the ballerina, the Secret agent, the partner and the professor, it is not difficult to put a name on each of them. The ballet is divided into two parts, the first is dedicated to Olga Spessivtseva's life in Russia before her departure in France, her classes in Kirov with the dancers in identical white tutus, the performances, its meeting with her lover of the future KGB, the Russian revolution, the "Egerie" of these people, then hers flight to Paris at the same time as the exodus of "white" Russians.

In the second darker part less narrative, we attend the arrival of the heroine in France, her Lifar's discovery at the same moment as the choreographer with dancers which are not any more in academic tutus, but in suits pastels, as partner and as man, the homosexuality of this one which drops her and makes that it sinks bit by bit into the madness, not without having in the evoked passage Gay Paris of 1920 and her role idol Giselle.

The choreography mixes a succession of big sways in the crowd with intense pas de deux among the various protagonists.

One will retain in first part the evocation of Sleeping Beauty in front of Kirov soberly evoked by its blue curtain, the Russian revolution with his unchained dancers, but especially the pas de deux in the audacious carried among the ballerina and her lover whom she will eventually leave. In the second part, the most subtle theatrical finds succeed one another as the pas de deux with the head of her lover of the secret agent who pursues it in recollection, Giselle's evocation hijacked on Schnittke's music but also in the choreography of its soloes or her final pas de deux with Lifar, evocating wilis, finally the madness where she sinks by moving of mirrors in mirrors.

Far from Kirov and from Bolchoi, Boris Eifman proposes a more free dance, anchored in his roots but turned to the future while keeping a robust neo-classic bass. He immortalizes the tradition of the big Russian ballets with stories as Spartacus, Ivan the terrible, the stone flower, etc. The choreographer mixes purely academic style and more contemporary, even if the dancers always evolve on toes. The dance of the troup is strong based on academics steps. One of the pictures evoke as well a modern second reading of the Charleston and all this modern dance...

In this ballet, Vera Arbuzova embodies a long ballerina of an extraordinary, poignant and torn flexibility enter her love of the dance where its professor Alexandre Ratchinsky who discovered her will finish tortured by the secret agent pulled by Yuri Ananyan, pervert and sadist as one pleases, of his partner "Lifar " danced by brilliant Yuri Smekalov. The corps de ballet, which one admires group and precision, also is to be congratuled. It's consisted of big and long female dancers quite more flexible the some than the others and male dancers all more virtuoso some than the others.

A magnificent ballet in the deserved success, but which deceives regrettably in front of a half empty room. Please, run there, you will not regret it.

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What was that poll ? Eifman or Forsythe?


Forsythe forever.

How could I have ever doubted ? (Well, I actually have to remind myself of the reasons : I had never been through an “entire” Eifman and the last of Forsythe’s I had seen was Kammer/ Kammer, an experience not unsimilar to watching David Lynch’s Lost Highway, leaving you nonplussed when not downright “excluded”.)

Okay, the night I saw the Red Giselle, things weren’t obviously going right backstage : there was a blackout in the lobby at one point, stagehands had trouble retrieving the trees... and the Mogador stage simply isn’t big enough : the actual Giselle excerpt seemed to take place in a studio flat, there didn’t seem to be enough room for that little house on one side and the bench on the other and dance between the two….

Eifman is a lucky man to have such good dancers, notably the lead role, but does not do her any favours by dressing her the way he chooses to. This is a tall lean powerful dancer who at times appears to be in drag given what she has to wear and that is downright cruel, because the woman IS beautiful. In terms of choreography, there is a lot of the same (except when he chooses to borrow : the Sleeping Beauty/ Giselle inspired steps, the Charleston… etc). a mélange of contemporary and classic (always a bit surprising when you see a point shoe at the end of an otherwise modern movement ) and repetitive fancy ice skating portées, all amidst the sort of dance-acting one can gets in bad musicals, far too over-theatrical, far too dramatic (the stage IS too small –and NO, the problem does not seem to come from the dancers). Now as for the story line, is that really meant to be a tribute to the great Olga ? Is a ballet biography possible/ desirable ? Is ballet an art form that can do justice to the complexities of a life time/ moments in life without resembling a series of juxtaposed video clips that each demand topographic/ temporal indication? *

Give me swans or ballets with very long obscure titles anytime, both far more poetic and of greater interest to me.

As for the audience, it was sparse, especially for a Saturday night…The French public is reputed to have trouble knowing when to stop applauding, here the clapping was dying out after three polite curtain calls, and held longer artificially by the stage management. But I did overhear a very enthusiastic “did you see how high her leg went”? on my way out and from what I read above, I see there are supporters. Good for Eifman, even better for his dancers.

I’m sorry my “sense of humour” was off that evening.

*These aren't rhetorical questions...I haven't seen Nijinski, nor any other bio inspired ballet, I believe -save that one featured in the movie Center Stage :cool: - so I am wondering & dubious...

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Thank you for these -- I see Eifman is controversial in Paris, as well :cool: It was fun to read two contrasting views, especially since both are such strong opinions.

Katharine, I'll be disappointed if you don't see and report on this one!

Did anyone else go? Anyone going back for a second look?

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Seats are expensive at Mogador it's not Garnier or Bastille where you have good seats for small price. In this kind of theater, all the seats near to the stage are expensive, and all the seats far from the stage are less expensive. The less expensive are at second balcony, very high ! And I can't go a second time. I would love to see the second cast, because I really enjoy this ballet and these dancers.

I saw that Vila didn't appreciate it. And I respect completely its point of view about the ballet and his/her vision of the ballet against for the applause, where I were sitting at the second balcony, audience was really enthusiastic and clapped their hands very strong, shouting "Bravo" ! I didn't have the feeling of "claque" ;) !

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