Getting psyched

The Boris Eifman Ballet delves into the heart and mind of Anna Karenina and Auguste Rodin.

June 27, 2013 13:58
3 minute read.
The Boris Eifman Ballet

The Boris Eifman Ballet. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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When attempting to feel out a person’s emotional state, psychologists will often pay close attention to body language. Crossing and uncrossing the legs, scratching the head and darting eyes point to malaise.

Slouching and averting one’s gaze indicate a lack of self- esteem. There is not question that the body conveys what is going on inside the mind.

For choreographer Boris Eifman, whose company will return to Israel this month, dance is a means to express the deep connection between mind and body. Eifman’s troupe, the Boris Eifman Ballet of Saint Petersburg, will perform at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center and at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center.

The company has become a staple in local dance programming in recent years. Outfitted with a cast of gorgeously technical ballet dancers, the Eifman Ballet offers classical dance lovers an opportunity to take in pure movement.

During their engagement at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center, the company will present Anna Karenina . The piece is based on Tolstoy’s beloved and tragic novel. During Eifman’s illustrious career, he has often drawn on literature for inspiration. His repertoire includes The Seagull , Onegin and Russian Hamlet . The company performed Anna Karenina last season during their visit to Israel.

The second program, Rodin , will be shown at TAPAC.

Rodin was inspired by the epic love story of famed sculptor Auguste Rodin and his muse and apprentice Camille Claudel. This is a relatively new piece of Eifman’s, having premiered in Russia in late 2011.

Rodin exposes the great pain of scorned lovers through long lines and deft movement. Rodin and Claudel were two French sculptors who fell madly in love while working alongside one another. When Rodin left Claudel, she fell to pieces. She was eventually admitted to a mental institution, where she spent the rest of her life in agony.

Throughout her three decades in the asylum, Claudel became convinced of a conspiracy against her and was certain that Rodin had devised the plot.

In an interview with the National Post , Eifman explained, “Rodin worked with bodies. All his life, he worked with bodies. He uncovered the secret of the body. And I, as a choreographer, do the same. I work with the body, and I want to open new possibilities to explain body language and how it affects people. This makes me like Rodin, and this is one of the reasons I chose this person for my new creation.”

Rodin is set to music by Maurice Ravel, Camille Saint- Saens and Jules Massenet.

Of the piece, Eifman writes, “With the help of body language, we talk in our performance about passion, internal struggle, despair, about all those life phenomena of the human spirit, which were brilliantly expressed by Rodin and Camille in bronze and marble. To turn a moment frozen in stone into an irrepressible sensuous stream of body movements is what I was striving for when creating this new ballet performance.

Rodin is a contemplation of the unreasonable price that geniuses have to pay for the creation of eternal masterpieces, and it is also about those torments and mysteries of the creative process that will always disturb the minds of artists.”

Both Anna Karenina and Rodin are what Eifman refers to as psychological ballets.

“What is psychological for me is the body language. It’s such a strong instrument that humans have. What is the soul? What is inside of us? I think this can be explained by movement. A psychological ballet can explore human expression. Not only what is going on with the exterior, but also what is happening on the interior. What is going on inside, and how do we express this? This is a style I have developed my whole life,” he said.

The Boris Eifman Ballet will perform at the Herzliya Performing Arts Center from July 6-9. For more information, visit

Rodin will be presented at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center from July 10-13. For more information, visit

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