The Eifman Ballet.
(photo credit: PR)
Without knowing it, Boris Eifman has been paving the way towards making the ballet Up & Down for more than two decades. The St. Petersburg based choreographer is best known for his psychological ballets, which are often based on classic pieces of literature or sculpture.
“Interest in the mental world of the individual and the subject of the unconscious has always been part of me. This is well illustrated by the Eifman Ballet’s old performances created in the 1980s and early 1990s. In my time, I even wanted to make Sigmund Freud the protagonist of my ballet, but then I changed my mind. After all, there was neither external drama in Freud’s life nor dynamics,” he explains.
The Eifman Ballet was established in 1977. Eifman has created one ballet per year for nearly 40 years, bringing together strong narratives with classical dance vocabulary.
Eifman spares nothing when it comes to design, adding dazzling sets and costumes to each of his creations.
This month, the Boris Eifman Ballet returns to Israel to perform at the Tel Aviv Performing Arts Center.
This is the company’s 15 engagement in Israel.
Two years ago, Eifman presented the ballet Rodin, based on the life and work of French sculptor Auguste Rodin. During his upcoming visit, Eifman will once again present Rodin, as well as Up & Down.
Having abandoned the concept of creating a ballet about Sigmund Freud, Eifman continued to feel the pull towards psychoanalysis.
“I’m really fond of psychoanalysis. It is attractive to me not as a scientific theory or a phenomenon from the world of medicine but as the ability to penetrate into the deep layers of the inner world of the individual.
Knowledge of the human soul and its expression in dance is the most important task for me as an artist. And, of course, I am interested in any knowledge and practice that can help me in the realization of such a creative mission. Although I am sincerely convinced that the choreographer is more privileged than a scientist or psychiatrist, as their research capabilities are strictly limited by the scope of scientific theories.
No dogmata prevail over the artist. Moreover, there are no phenomena of our mental or sensual life that cannot be known by using body language,” he says.
Up & Down, which premiered in January, is based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel Tender Is the Night. The book follows an up-and-coming psychoanalyst and his wife and patient over the course of several tumultuous years. The novel was Fitzgerald’s last complete work and mirrored the events of his personal life, seeing his own wife, Zelda, through mental illness.
Through Fitzgerald’s writing, Eifman finally felt able to access the passion he felt towards psychoanalysis and to harness it into a ballet.
“Up & Down does not retell the original story but abstracts away from it to a great extent, offering a very special view of the world of Fitzgerald’s heroes and subjects raised in the book,” says Eifman.
“That is why our ballet will be clear to those people who don’t know the text of the novel. Up & Down is my deeply personal reflection on the causes of existential catastrophe to a talented person, the tragic consequences of the internal discord of betrayal, as well as the danger of compromise with him or herself and with the outside world,” he explains.
The two programs, Rodin and Up & Down, are markedly different.
However, Eifman feels that audiences will recognize strong connective threads.
“With each ballet, I am looking for a special esthetic language that corresponds to the philosophical attributes of the production.
Therefore, any subsequent performance is unique, and it opens a new page in the artistic evolution of our company. At the same time, both productions belong to the modern psychological ballet art that I have developed with the Eifman Ballet over many years. We have created a unique type of theater, which ischaracterized by a serious dramatic foundation, intellectual richness, philosophizing and incredible passion. And most importantly, our creative work is entirely directed to the person and the mystery of his or her soul. We give the viewer the emotional energy that can shake him, lead to a catharsis, that is the spiritual purification,” says Eifman.The Eifman Ballet will present Up & Down on July 23, 24 and 25 at TAPAC. Rodin will be performed on July 26, 27 and 28. For more information, visit www.israel-opera.co.il.