“Anna Karenina is among Eifman's greatest works. The new ballet is relentless in its energy and merciless in its emotional impact.”——Robert Johnson, Star-Ledger
“As the curtain came down on Boris Eifman’s evening long ‘Anna Karenina’ the audience rose to its feet and cheered. It was impossible to be surprised. Large numbers of the audience were not just visually pleased by the ballet, although they were that and had a right to be: the costumes were sumptuous, the sets were grand, the dancers were gorgeous.”——Ann Murphy, New York.
“This production exerts a relentless grip.” “…the production leaves one applauding the Eifman company for its passionate integrity, and Eifman himself for a gift for showmanship.”——Laura Thompson, The Daily Telegraph
Boris Eifman’s ballet Anna Karenina is a true burst of inner psychological energy and is amazingly precise in delivering emotional impact upon its viewers. By setting aside all secondary storylines in Leo Tolstoy’s novel, the choreographer focused on the love triangle “Anna – Karenin – Vronsky”.
Using dance language, Boris Eifman in his ballet managed to portray the drama of a woman being reborn. According to the choreographer, it is the love passion, the “basic instinct” which has led the heroine to the breach of the then current norms of social morality, killed motherly love in Anna Karenina and destroyed her inner world. Being so completely consumed and crushed by passion, a woman is ready for any sacrifice.
The choreographer says that his ballet speaks not of previous times but of today: the timeless emotional content of the performance and obvious parallels to reality can’t leave the contemporary viewer indifferent. The brilliant technical mastery of the company’s dancers and Boris Eifman’s astounding choreography present to us in a remarkably impressive way all the aspects and peripeteias of the Tolstoy’s novel.
“Ballet is a very specific realm where psychological drama is reenacted and fulfilled; it is a chance to get an insight into the subconscious. Every new production is a search for the unknown.
The Anna Karenina novel by Tolstoy has always been the object of my keen interest. While reading Tolstoy, one can see how fully and intimately the author understands the inner world and psychology of his heroes, how keenly and precisely describes he the life in Russia. In the novel one will find a plunge into the psychological world of the chief character and also a psycho-erotic interpretation of her personality. Even in our contemporary literature we won’t find similar passions, metamorphoses and phantasmagoria. All this has become the gist and essence of my choreographic reflections upon the book.
The measured, regular life of the Karenin family – the husband’s public service, the strict high society conventions – produced an illusion that harmony and peace reign there. Anna’s passionate love for Vronsky destroyed the «matter of course» in their existence. Sincerity of the lovers’ feelings was doubted and rejected, their frankness was afraid of. Karenin’s hypocrisy was acceptable to everyone but Anna. She preferred the all-absorbing love for Vronsky to mother’s duties regarding her son. And thus she doomed herself to lead the life of an outcast. She saw no pleasure in traveling or in habitual high society entertainments. There was a feeling that a woman is tragically constrained by sensual relationships with a man. This sort of dependence – as any other one – brings pain and suffering. Anna committed suicide to set herself free, to end her dreadful and agonizing life.
For me Anna was sort of a ‘shape shifter’ because two persons lived within her: externally she was a high society lady known to her husband Karenin, to her son and to everyone around. The other one was a woman immersed into the world of passions.
What is a more important goal in life: to maintain the conventional illusion of existing harmony between duty and feelings, or surrender to a sincere passion?.. Do we have a right to destroy our family, to deprive a child of his mother’s care just for the sake of what our flesh lusts for?...
All these questions haunted Tolstoy in his times, and we can’t avoid thinking them over again and again today. But answers are still far-off! What remains there is only our thirst for being understood both in our life and death…”
The scene opens with Anna Karenina in the heart of her family in St. Petersburg.
At a high society ball, Anna meets a dashing young officer Count Vronsky.
In the Karenin household there is marital discord.
Anna and Vronsky meet again at the horse races, they fall deeply in love.
Anna’s life becomes difficult as rumours and gossip starts to spread about the Karenin’s relationship.
At a long-awaited assignation passion overcomes the lovers’ rational thoughts.
After a confrontation with Karenin Anna is overcome with dark thoughts foreboding.
The married couple makes a reconciliation.
Vronsky is at his officers club.
Following a meeting at the Karenins` home. Anna leaves her husband.
At a Carnival in Venice. The affection between Anna and Vronsky begins to break down
In St. Petersburg high society turns its back on Anna. She becomes shunned and isolated.
In an opium induced state of mind, Anna is in the grip of visions and fantasies.
Final despair. Anna’s suicide.
St.Petersburg Eifman Ballet
Saint Petersburg Eifman Ballet, established by Boris Eifman in 1977, was from day one recognized for its new and innovative concept of ballet. The company’s first performances already stirred the interest of the audiences and ballet critics who argued about new tendencies in Russian ballet.
In the 1980’s the choreographer and his company, characterized by an outstanding dance intellect, continued to explore new genres and develop new repertoires which are all distinguished for their strikingly sharp choreographies, intended to express the fiery passion of the ballet characters.
Today St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet is renowned among ballet lovers in Asia, Europe, the Americas and in Australia for such ballets as I, Don Quixote; Red Giselle, Russian Hamlet, Anna Karenina, The Seagull, Eugene Onegin, Rodin, Beyond Sin, Requiem, Tchaikovsky. These works not only represent the highest artistic level of achievements of contemporary Russian ballet, but also welcome the spectators into the immortal spiritual heritage of Russian and world culture that inspired the choreographer and his dancers. The creativity and innovation of Eifman Ballet and their new interpretations of cultural masterpieces carry a huge educational potential to involve a wide audience into the world of high arts.
Boris Eifman’s endeavor to engage his spectators in the infinite world of human passions, to form a spiritual liaison with the audience, to amaze viewers by the brilliance and dynamism of his plastique – all this has ensured a decades-long success of Eifman Ballet’s performances at leading venues around the globe.
Artistic Director: Boris Eifman
Boris Eifman is one of the few, if not the only Russian choreographer who’s energetic and brilliant artistic life has been going on for several decades. He has created more than forty ballet performances and obtained honorary titles such as the People’s Artist of Russia, the Laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation, the laureate of the Golden Mask and the Golden Soffit, he is also the holder of the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, and many international prizes and titles.
The choreographer was born in Siberia and received his ballet degree from the department of choreography of the Leningrad Conservatory. Already in 1977 he set up his own company – the Leningrad New Ballet today known to millions of art lovers as St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet. The choreographer and his outstanding dancers are known for creating the new dance repertory of modern Russia. According to Boris Eifman a new century demands new choreographies that closely reflect the modern human being. Earnestly concerned with the problems of today Boris Eifman openly speaks with his audience about complicated and dramatic aspects of human life; he defines his genre as “psychological ballet”. “Throughout my creative life I’ve been expanding the boundaries of the ballet theatre and, first and foremost, searching for a body language capable of expressing the life of human spirit. Dance isn’t a physical process for me, but a spiritual one”, - says Boris Eifman.
Forming a special and innovative repertoire based upon the rich traditions of Russian psychological theater, and new choreography of the XXI century are among the key priorities within the artistic mission of Boris Eifman and his company.
Director&Light Director: Boris Eifman
Music: Pyotr Tchaikovsky
Sets: Zinovy Margolin
Costumes: Vyacheslav Okunev
Light: Gleb Filshtinsky
Anna Karenina – Daria Reznik
Alexey Karenin – Sergey Volobuev, Oleg Markov
Alexey Vronsky – Oleg Gabyshev, Igor Subbotin