From Russia with love

Leading Russian choreographer Boris Eifman brings his company back to Israel, this time with ‘Red Giselle’ and ‘Onegin’.

May 28, 2010 17:22
2 minute read.
Elfman's ballet

Elman's ballet 311. (photo credit: courtesy)


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‘At the present moment we are preparing for our performances in Israel,” said choreographer Boris Eifman in a recent interview. His company, the Boris Eifman Ballet, will perform six shows divided into two programs at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center starting on Thursday evening.

“We are very happy to return because we know that we are loved and always awaited in Israel. All our past tours in Israel had great success. But to achieve success is one thing. And it’s not simple to retain it. I hope that during our future tour in Israel, we will justify all the expectations of our spectators,” he continued.

Last year, the Eifman Ballet came to Israel for a similar engagement during which they performed two of their director’s works, Anna Karenina and The Seagull. In fact, the company is a staple of TAPAC’s dance programming. Eifman’s 2010 visit boasts one new piece, Onegin, and an old favorite, Red Giselle.

Eifman has been a beacon of artistic energy in St. Petersburg for more than 30 years. His works draw on the deep well that is Russian history and speak of life in a tumultuous country. Beyond his mastery of classical ballet, Eifman is bold and risky as a choreographer, often incorporating sexual angst and struggle into his opuses. For inspiration, Eifman says he turns to Russian literature.

Onegin, which is his newest work, explores Pushkin’s narrative poem Eugene Onegin. Pushkin’s poem is a cherished classic, which deals with the conflict between fiction and reality. Eifman spoke of his connection with this text. “I combined Pushkin’s plot with realities of our epoch, new Russia. It was very important for me to understand in what way the Russian soul has changed since the time when Pushkin created his novel in verse. Pushkin’s work can be a unique instrument of creative interpretation of the modern epoch,” he said. “In his works, an artist cannot avoid reflecting the epoch in which he works, thinking about the past or asking questions about the life of a contemporary society.”

A unique mixture of contemporary and classical music allows Onegin to exist both in present and past times. The score includes music by Tchaikovsky and a harder, rock edge by Russian musician Sitkovesk.

In Red Giselle, Eifman brings the beloved ballet Giselle to Russia. He based his lead character on famous Russian ballerina Olga Spessivtseva, who won her place in the spotlight as prima ballerina in a production of Giselle for the Marinsky Theater in 1916. Spessivtseva, who died in 1991, is remembered as one of the best classical ballet dancers of all time.

“The play is devoted to the tragic fate of Olga Spessivtseva, who had to leave Russia and died in oblivion in a foreign land. Spessivtseva’s life story is an eternal and clear example for everyone about the tragedy of a person who lost the threads of spiritual connection with their motherland,” explained Eifman. “The ballet is full of thoughts about Russian history, Russian character, about the power of historical circumstances over a person.”

To see the Boris Eifman Ballet’s flawless dancers twirl across the stage – that in itself is worth a trip to the theater. Regardless of the subject matter, Eifman’s works are always dramatic and well crafted.

The Boris Eifman Ballet will perform at TAPAC on June 3 through June 8. For tickets, visit

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