By Dave Barton
By LP Hastings
By Sarah Bennett
By LP Hastings
By Jena Ardell
By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
By Joel Beers
Courtesy Orange County
Performing Arts CenterNext to the Kirov and the Bolshoi Ballet, the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg is practically a baby. Not quite 30 years old, its artistic independence evokes the last-child syndrome as well. The dancers may come from a classical base, but like precocious children, Boris Eifman asks them to go their own way and combine folk, modern, classical, contemporary and acrobatic movements with deep psychological drama.
"The most important for me, as director of the company, is that my company dance only my choreography. We are the new vision of Russian dance," the 58-year-old Eifman proclaims in a long, detailed e-mail.
But just because the dancers focus on Eifman ballets doesn't mean the classics are thrown by the wayside. Instead Eifman adds his own special sauce to the traditional Giselle,with RedGiselleat the OC Performing Arts Center next week, and presents his own literary-influenced work DonJuanandMoliere.
Giselle,the story of a peasant woman who goes mad and dies after her betrothed turns out to be an aristocrat engaged to another woman, rarely comes under the heading of revolutionary or intellectual. It's beautiful, to be sure, but the ballet veers away from the cerebral and instead chooses universal sentiments of loss and forgiveness, heaped with a healthy dose of pastoral Romanticism (otherwise known as lots of dancing in the forest). Pretty—but straightforward.
In contrast, the Eifman-tweaked RedGisellehas become something of a SwanLakefor the company, both for its historic flavor and elaborate plot. Meant to be a representation of how the Revolution affected the art world in St. Petersburg, Eifman describes the ballet as "about her [Giselle's] relationship with the most powerful people after the Revolution—the KGB Agent who in the one hand, killed freedom in art and in the [other] hand, supported art.
"We're not looking for such a connection as the betrayal of Albrecht in classical Giselle,but using elements of Gisellein our production," Eifman explains. "It's related with the real story of our ballerina—Olga Spessivtseva—and is about one of her greatest roles, Giselle. On another side, it's about how the story of Giselle is so close to her personal life—both the real Olga Spessivtseva and Giselle—their madness came from unanswered love, from unrealized dreams."