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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Performance Reviews
New York City Center
United States
New York City
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New York, NY

Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg - Anna Karenina

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
April 29, 2007
New York City Center
130 West 56th Street
(Audience Entrance is on West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
(Entrance for Studios and Offices is on West 56th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues)
New York, NY 10019
About the Author:

Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg
Thirtieth Anniversary
(Eifman Ballet/Ardani Artists Website)
Boris Eifman, Artistic Director
Sergei Danilian and
Ardani Artists Management, Inc., Producer

At City Center
(City Center Website)

Anna Karenina 2007
Ballet in Two Acts
Choreography by Boris Eifman

Soloists: Maria Abashova, Elena Kuzmina, Natalia Povorozniuk,
Anastassia Sitnikova, Nina Zmievets, Yuri Ananyan,
Dmitry Fisher, Oleg Gabyshev, Andrey Kasyanenko,
Ivan Kozlov, Oleg Markov, Yuri Smekalov

Press: Ellen Jacobs Associates
(See Anna Karenina 2005 NY Review).
(See Anna Karenina 2005 Chicago Review).

Some Eifman Ballet Program Notes:

Boris Eifman, Artistic Director, Choreographer, and Director, has created over 40 ballets. He has won all the highest awards in the arts in Russia and was inducted into France's Order of Arts and Letters. Eifman is known to fuse classic ballet with contemporary choreography and is fascinated with the magic of genius and the realm of the human psyche. Eifman stresses the theatrical impact of his productions, one ruled by emotions.

The Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg has been geared for a continuous, creative process. Eifman has produced ballets to rock music, and he has also created ballets about Tchaikovsky and Moliere. He emphasizes psychoanalysis through movement and the energy of mass action scenes. Eifman has also designed ballets around Shakespearean theater, such as "Russian Hamlet" and "The Twelfth Night", plus the one-act Musagète for New York City Ballet. "Anna Karenina" was Eifman's last NY production at City Center. (Program Notes).
(See an Exclusive Interview with Boris Eifman).

Anna Karenina (2005): Music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Choreography by Boris Eifman, Set by Zinovy Margolin, Costumes by Slava Okunev, Lighting by Gleb Filshtinsky, Performed by Maria Abashova as Anna, Oleg Markov as Karenin, Yuri Smekalov as Vronsky, and Anastassia Sitnikova as Kiti. The Karenin's family is structured by the government and society, with Karenin working in government service, and a young child, Kiti, plays with trains. Anna, wife and mother in the family is in constant turmoil, as she internalizes repressed erotic passion for Vronsky, an artist. Karenin becomes aware of the relationship, and Vronsky and Karenin vie for Anna's love and intimacy, while Anna clearly chooses passion and guilt over duty and peace. Anna became enslaved to a man, with two selves evolving: One a controlled lady of society and one a tormented woman drowning in passion. Anna could not contain these two warring selves any longer. (Program Notes).

This is one Eifman ballet I could re-visit time and again for its sheer extravagance of emotions and elegance of décor. Eifman has synthesized the central drama of Tolstoy's masterpiece by focusing on the three tortured characters, Anna Karenina, her husband, Karenin, and her lover, Vronsky. Anna's son has a small role, but his presence encapsulates Anna's dilemma. Anna is a woman of society, of privilege, and Eifman here has not modernized or fiddled with the essentials. Rather, by synthesis, we are served one lavish main course of impassioned choreography, ornamented with a bronzed balcony, a spotlighted snowfall, a rotating electric train, and a masked ball. It's the impassioned choreography that heats the action and emblazons the memory.

There are, with full abandon, dances and leaps en air, powerful passion in the beds, and even a metamorphosis through an open box, baring Anna's quasi-naked skin and soul. Oleg Markov, as Karenin, reeks of frustration, humiliation, jealousy, betrayal, and vindictiveness. His pas de deux with Anna are percussive, propulsive, and pathetic. Yuri Smekalov, as Vronsky, reeks of control, youthfulness, simplicity, and sexuality. His pas de deux with Anna flow, where Karenin's explode. Anna and Karenin dance as if there was no yesterday. Anna and Vronsky dance as if there's no tomorrow, of prophetic and critical import. Maria Abashova, as Anna, is almost always onstage, and this is no short ballet. Her stamina and style were amazing, as one misstep or missed timing could have landed her on anything other then the two men by whom she was caught, lifted, carried, thrown, or caressed. In fact, the stamina of all three performers was extraordinary.

The company, as society, masked revelers, and the human train was also outsized in its focus (the ensemble images require synchronized motion par excellence), and, when they swung arms and legs to the high volume chugging of the oncoming train, they turned surreal. Color and lack of color were essential to the mood, as Karenin wore black, Vronsky white, and Anna seemed to switch tones, blood red, sun-drenched white, and early-late black, like night, day, night, depending on her partner. It was clear, when the train pulled in, that Anna could no longer fight her own impulses. The torment was total, and she walked the bridge steadfastly and serenely, finally in control of her own destiny. Kudos to Ms. Abashova, Mr. Markov, and Mr. Smekalov. Kudos to Boris Eifman, and kudos to Ardani Artists for an exceptional 2007 New York Season. (See Eifman 2005 Touring Schedule).
Eifman's 'Anna Karenina' Yuri Smekalov as Vronsky; Maria Abashova as Anna

Eifman's "Anna Karenina"
Yuri Smekalov as Vronsky; Maria Abashova as Anna

Photo © & courtesy of Valentin Baranovsky

Eifman's 'Anna Karenina'

Eifman's "Anna Karenina"

Photo © & courtesy of Dmitry Solobev

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