(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Like a colorful migrating bird, the Boris Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg comes for a yearly visit, and plays to a full house for several nights. On its current tour it presents Up and Down , a new creation based on Scott Fitzgerald’s celebrated novel Tender is The Night.
Eifman’s affinity for bold, dramatic themes found a treasure in the novel, which contains biographical components. Eifman portrays the story in his distinctly literal and detailed way, using abundant expressionist tools, through movement, gestures and facial indications, which fit his distinctive style, a derivative of neo-classical ballet and theatrical dance.
This ballet leaves no stone unturned and delves into the rollercoaster of ups and downs in the life, love, betrayals and institutionalized experiences in mental asylums of the novel’s leading characters, many of which coincide with the lives of the author and his wife.
After mounds of emotion, from love to lust, brittle health and broken souls as a result of parental sexual abuse one could use some relief, and indeed Eifman wove in diversions; after somber scenes, set to music by Franz Schubert and Alban Berg, came chorus dance intermezzos filled with fun, color and merriment, with Gershwin’s jazzed-up rhythms of the ’20s and ’30s, yet those diversions, filled with musical theater clichés, turned out to be the weak links.
Eifman’s dramatic choreography is very well crafted on many levels and he uses the space cleverly, and with the years his range of movement inspiration has become more varied, and produced several romantic duets which received particular attention.
The cast, by and large, was dynamic and attentive, and the leading duo of Oleg Gabyshev as Dick Diver and Lyubov Andreyeva as Nicole Warren was outstanding. Both were extremely light on their feet, with nice, strong technique. Yet, with all the invested (often excessive) effort, Up and Down remains detached, too calculated and technical to touch.