Boris Eifman Ballet The Seagull TAPAC January 5 Boris Eifman and his St. Petersburg-based ballet company are back with yet another dramatic ballet creation by this most prolific choreographer. Eifman gained fame decades ago as a dissident ballet maker and became a popular choreographer with a long line of dramatic - and often melodramatic - but always spectacular ballets. The Seagull, a free rendition of Chekhov's play written at the end of the 19th century, is perhaps one of Eifman's more interesting productions. His unique hybridist style is less forced than before, and the effort to tame spectacular stage sets and technical extravagance did wonders to the stage of The Seagull, adding a touch of contemporary sophistication not seen in his previous works. So, hurrah for set designer Zinovei Margolin, and for the lighting by Gleb Pilshtinski and Eifman himself. The mixture of styles that Eifman uses is part of who he is: always tied tightly to past perceptions and techniques with elements borrowed from more moderns practices. Eifman seems to need to be as updated as the next guy; he successfully introduced some of Bill Forsyth's more obvious moves into the studio scenes, he had another scene influenced by American innovator Alvin Nikolais's style, and to top it all, a hip-hop group dance played in between. Artistically, under all the makeup, he is more traditionally inclined than he likes to believe. The need to stick to specific narrative, the strict hierarchy of the dancers, the overtly dramatic gestures and the ballet body perception in general are all part of it. But audiences around the world love his ballets because they are accessible, easy to identify with and feature a terrific group of dancers with Maria Abashova and Nina Zmievets in the lead. The Seagull will play in Tel Aviv at TAPAC on January 7, in Jerusalem on January 11 at Binyanei Hauma and in Haifa at the Congress Center on January 12. Eifman will also stage Anna Karenina at TAPAC on the 8th, 9th and 10th.