Russian masterpieces get Eifman Ballet treatment

Ma Yue
The St Petersburg Eifman Ballet will raise the curtain on the Shanghai Oriental Art Center's 2019-20 performance season next month with two masterpieces.
Ma Yue

The St Petersburg Eifman Ballet will raise the curtain on the Shanghai Oriental Art Center’s 2019-20 performance season next month with two masterpieces — “Anna Karenina” and “Beyond Sin,” which will be performed from September 12 to 15.

“Anna Karenina,” retuning to Shanghai for a third time, is based on Tolstoy’s sprawling novel, stripped of a myriad of subplots. It is the story of an extramarital affair between Anna and a dashing cavalry officer Vronsky that scandalizes St Petersburg society, breaks up Anna’s marriage and ultimately leads to her suicide.

Russian choreographer Boris Eifman used ballet language to illustrate the characters’ inner struggle and the contradiction between conscience and desire, sense and sensibility, responsibility and passion.

Eifman said the emotional contents of his ballet speak not only of previous times, but of today as well.

“My works are usually based on dramas or real stories with controversial characters,” said Eifman. “They can arouse audiences’ sympathy and let out their emotion when watching the characters struggle and fight against pain and despair.”

“The depth and power in Tolstoy’s work is not easy to be found in other literary works. There is a tragic part in Anna’s personality. The dark and destructive side of human soul always interests me much.”

Russian masterpieces get Eifman Ballet treatment
Ti Gong

Anna Karenina

Russian masterpieces get Eifman Ballet treatment
Ti Gong

Beyond Sin

The other ballet “Beyond Sin,” based on Dostoevsky’s novel “The Brothers Karamazov,” is making its Shanghai debut.

It’s a psychological, philosophical story that explores ethical debates about God, free will and morality.

It’s also a modern piece in technical and artistic expression, which explored the potential of body language as a way to showcase the complicated inner world of man. Eifman said “Beyond Sin” developed the tradition of the psychological ballet art.

“Instead of putting on stage all story lines of the novel, I focused on the process of creating choreographic insights into the souls of the main characters beset with internal conflicts,” said Eifman.

“‘The Brothers Karamazov’ novel was the epitome of Dostoevsky’s creative development,” Eifman said.

“For the last two decades, observing the march of our country’s contemporary history, I am convinced, again and again, of the all-time relevance of this work regarded as the spiritual will and testament of the great writer.”

Eifman graduated from the Kishinev Ballet School, who had performed as a dancer with the Kishinev Opera and Ballet Theatre, and went on to study choreography at the Leningrad Conservatory.

He established the St Petersburg Eifman Ballet in 1977. The company has been dedicated to innovation, enriching classical ballet with modern elements and emphasizing emotion and conflict.


• "Anna Karenina"
September 12, 7:15pm; September 13, 7:15pm
• "Beyond Sin"
September 14, 7:15pm; September 15, 2pm

Tickets: 80-1080 yuan
Venue: Shanghai Oriental Art Center
Address: 425 Dingxiang Rd
Pudong New Area

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