Ballet Boris Eifman Anna Karenina TAPAC December 13 Under the oppressive regime of the former Soviet Union, Russian choreographer Boris Eifman had envisioned a bold, more "modern" form of ballet, akin in spirit to what he imagined was being done in the west. The popularity he won at home, long before he was allowed to travel, convinced him that he was on the right track. Unfortunately, the company's success reflects more on the public's taste, and less on its true artistic merits. Anna Karenina, much like his previous works, is a form of grand soap-ballet, a simplistic reduction of Tolstoy's novel into a tale of passion and death, flooded with pathos and devoid of sensitive details. With excessive facial expressions, gestures and symbolic movements, the story-ballet deals directly with verbal materials and spoonfeeds the audience with insights. Lack of refinement comes from Eifman's inclination to popularize his craft and flatter the audience. But he does have a genuine talent for dealing with space and creating large group compositions, as seen in the charming ball scene and masquerade party. However, he leaves no stone unturned in an effort to squeeze more distorted positions. If only he hadn't tried so hard, his work wouldn't look so contrived and outdated. The company has toured Israel many times and often impressed with its high technical control and stage capabilities. This time, the male dancers seemed stiff and lacked any grace, particularly the two men in the leading roles - Karenin, the betrayed husband and Vronsky the lover. A dozen female dancers surpassed them by far and were wonderful, like the strong, impressive dancer Maria Abashova in the role of Anna Karenina.