For the past several years, one staple in the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center’s programming has been the Boris Eifman Ballet of Saint Petersburg.

Hailing from the widely accepted home of ballet, Eifman’s company has wowed Israeli audiences time and again with flawless technique and masterful composition. Now, with the summer almost over, TAPAC is gearing up for a new season of dance, which recently kicked off with Forever Tango by Luis Bravo. Following Bravo’s ode to Argentina at TAPAC, Eifman Ballet will return to Israel with two ballets: Onegin and a new interpretation of an old work entitled I, Don Quixote.

For more than three decades, Eifman has been a leading figure in the Russian dance community.

Since his appointment as the artistic director of the Leningrad Ballet Ensemble in 1977, the only consistent thing in Eifman’s life has been his commitment to the stage.

His work is largely narrative, drawing on beloved tales by cherished authors. But in each of the stories Eifman chooses to tackle, he first sees himself.

With the tragic tale of Don Quixote, Eifman found little difficulty in relating to the subject matter at hand.

Cervantes’s protagonist is wrought with delusions, which land him in a mental institution.

This is the backdrop for Eifman’s take on the story.

“I worked on this piece for a long time. I wouldn’t have taken up this subject if I myself hadn’t been fighting for free creative selfrealization during the times of the USSR,” he said in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post.

“I turned to Don Quixote’s image for the first time in the 1990s when the first version of my ballet was staged. Its premiere took place in 1994. Sixteen years later I considerably revised the choreography of the performance, entered some new plotlines into the narrative and, as far as I can see, managed to disclose the personality of the character more deeply. This was the way the ballet I, Don Quixote came into being. I have always wondered why any vivid, extraordinary personality is doomed to loneliness and misunderstanding. The lunatic asylum, where the action of the ballet takes place, is the metaphor reflecting the cruel and vicious society.”

Onegin, which Eifman presented two years ago during his last tour to Israel, is a modern look at Alexander Pushkin’s novella. In this piece, Eifman investigates the fine line between fantasy and reality.

The ballet is erotic, aesthetic and deeply tied to Eifman’s experiences in post-Soviet Russia.

And as if maintaining a company of more than 50 dancers weren’t enough to keep him busy, Eifman is already hard at work with a new facility. “At the beginning of this year our theater moved to a new rehearsal base in Saint Petersburg,” he explained. “We left our house where we had been living and working for more than a decade. But this sacrifice was not in vain because of the construction of the Dance Academy, an innovative educational institution in place of the previous base, where talented children will be learning the trade of the ballet artist. According to the builders, it will be able to open its doors to its first students on September 1, 2012.”

Eifman is also busy with a new ballet, which will premiere in the coming months. “Another important event in the life of our theater is the staging of our new ballet Rodin, dedicated to the destiny of sculptors Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel. The premiere will take place in November in Saint Petersburg, and then the audience of other cities and countries will see the ballet. I sincerely hope that Rodin will be presented in Israel in the near future,” confided Eifman.

The Boris Eifman Ballet will perform at TAPAC from September 19 to September 24. For tickets, visit www.israel-opera.co.il. These performances sell out quickly, so it is best to buy tickets right away.

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