Eifman Ballet puts Russian classics on stage
St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet is in Shanghai this week to raise the curtain on the Oriental Art Center’s new season with two works – “Anna Karenina” and “Beyond Sin.”
Based on Tolstoy’s masterpiece, “Anna Karenina,” is returning to Shanghai for a third run, while “Beyond Sin,” a tribute to Dostoevsky’s novel “The Brothers Karamazov,” is making its Shanghai debut.
“This version of ‘Anna Karenina’ is slightly different from the previous one we performed here,” said German Gureev, vice director of the company. “Compared to ‘Anna Karenina,' 'Beyond Sin' features more contemporary dance elements, and I hope the Shanghai audience will like it too.”
Using body language and facial expressions to display complicated emotions and the inner struggles of controversial characters is always a challenge for dancers.
Russian choreographer Boris Eifman is known for using ballet language to explore psychological and philosophical themes. “Anna Karenina” focuses on the eponymous heroine's extramarital affair with Vronsky and performers have to demonstrate contradictions between conscience and desire, sense and sensibility, responsibility and passion.
“Anna is a role all ballerinas want to dance,” said Lyubov Andreyeva, one of the two dancers to take the role in Shanghai. “She is passionate and crazy for love like all girls, but also complicated due to her identity as a mother and a wife. She bears all the pressure and releases it in an extreme way. For ballerinas, we also shoulder all kinds of pressure from daily training and release it all on the stage.”
According to Oleg Gabyshev, who plays Vronsky in the ballet, the difficulty in performing Eifman’s work is to squeeze the characters’ emotions into every motion on stage.
“It’s a challenge, but also the distinguished feature of the St Petersburg Eifman Ballet,” said Gabyshev. “Dancers take a lot of time to study the complexity of the characters. We want the audience to come up with their own understanding of the roles after watching the performance, as Eifman wants his work to trigger people’s thinking about life.”
During the ballet’s stay in Shanghai, some dancers took part in a master class for young dancers.