NYC Dance Stuff

Madness, Mayhem & Russian Drama | Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg & Boris Eifman’s Newest Work “Up and Down”….

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The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg in Boris Eifman’s “Up and Down.” Photo by Michael Khoury

No-one gives drama better than a Russian…so it came as no surprise to find Boris Eifman’s newest work UP & Down drama filled and a breaming with passion. This new ballet by Mr. Eifman, which premiered in Saint Petersburg in January of this year, plunges the audience into an atmosphere of the Roaring Twenties. The work was given its New York premiere as part of a nine-week North American tour at the New York City Center on May 22-24, 2015.

Using the music by George Gershwin, Franz Schubert and Alban Berg, Mr. Eifman recently speaking on his new production: ‘The ballet ‘Up & Down’ is a tragic and bright chronicle of a person’s spiritual death. The story about how a dream of happiness turns into a disaster, and an externally beautiful and carefree life flowing to the rhythms of jazz – into a nightmare.

The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg in Boris Eifman’s “Up and Down.” Photo by Michael Khoury

The two-act ballet is a tale of a stern Psychiatrist (Sergey Volobuev) who falls in love and marries his beautiful but troubled patient (Anastasia Sitnikova). As the patient is pulled out of her madness the Psychiatrist finds himself pulled into madness. The Patient’s millionaire father, who forced his daughter into an incestuous relationship and is the cause of her madness, believes any problem can resolved it you throw enough money at it.

The work is ripe with the Mr. Eifman’s signature style of choreography, long lyrical phrases of movement with each movement acting as a catalyst for the next. With his choreographic choices he is able to accurately portray the soul of the characters he has created. He shows the pain and turmoil, the brief moments of joy and the languishing absence when love is replaced by longing…

The dancers in the Eifman Ballet are exceptional, each and every one. All are tall and lean with ridiculously long legs. Sergey Volobuev, in the role of the Psychiatrist was wonderful. Mr. Volobuev has an intrinsic lyricism that seems to be as natural to him as breathing. If you have not seen him perform, do so, it will be a treat….

Anastasia Sitnikova danced the fragile and damaged patient with finesse. Her scenes in the asylum pulls on your heartstrings as you witness her recede deeper into her psychosis; you feel the nightmares that haunt her. When dancing with Mr. Volobuev, Ms. Sitnikova gave the audience glimpses of the all to brief joy she found when with him, either as patient or bride.

The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg performing Boris Eifman’s Newest Ballet “Up & Down.” Photo: Michael Khoury

But as the ballet progresses we see Ms. Sitnikova darker side emerge. The side that is so like her abusive father, manipulative and wealth obsessed. As this side becomes more evident, the more Mr. Volobuev seems to slide away from her.

Oleg Markov, as the patient’s father is a brilliant technician who displays great emotion in his dancing. He was wonderful to watch but my only complaint is he looked far too young to be the patient’s father. So youthful did he look he could have easily been the patient’s younger brother.

The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg performing Boris Eifman’s Newest Ballet “Up & Down.” Photo: Michael Khoury

When vacationing on a beach in a very upscale resort Mr. Volobuev comes in contact with a beautiful and very seductive actress danced by the exquisite Maria Abashova. Ms. Abashova led Mr. Volobuev around by his nose…and honestly, Ms. Abashova is so remarkably beautiful she could probably lead men around by their noses in real life if she were so inclined.

Now did I find Mr. Eifman’s Up and Down as brilliant a work as I did his Rodin seen in 2012? Sadly no, Rodin is a rare work; a work of unquestionable genius where Up and Down, which has its own merits and I enjoyed every minute, lacked the depth of statement found in Rodin.

But I still stand by my conviction that Boris Eifman is one of the great choreographers working today…..

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