Lucky circumstances or the fate of the stars, but I had a chance to watch “Anna Karenina” ballet. It was included in the program of commemorative events in honor of the 70th anniversary of Boris Eifman, the founder and artistic director of the St. Petersburg State Academic Ballet Theatre. Perhaps only now, after a few weeks, I can write about the impression this performance made on me.
“Astana Ballet” Theatre administration has good relations with Eifman, and the last day of their tour of the Theatre in St.Petersburg at “The Stars of the White Nights” festival, i.e. on July 21 the leaders and teachers of the young Kazakh theatre were invited to watch “Anna Karenina” performance at Alexandrinsky Theatre. I came to the theater 30 minutes before the start. It was interesting to look at the audience. I saw one of the most famous pianists of the Russian platform among those who have asked for an extra ticket. Although the performance was not the premiere, it caused a stir among the effeminate Petersburg public. The audience came to the old stage of Alexandrinsky in a good mood, it was clearly seen on their happy faces. It was obvious that everyone were waiting for not just a joy, but the pleasure and wonder. The confidence that it was going to be just as spectators were expecting. Enjoyable occasion for Eifman’s admirers to gather – all of this even more lifted spirit of happy owners of tickets and invitations.
Guests from Kazakhstan (administration, teachers of “Astana Ballet” Theatre) were provided with some great places in the stalls, and the chief choreographer of the Theatre Aigul Tati and repetitour Maira Kadyrova were fantastically lucky: they sat in the Tsar’s Box, where spectators can now buy tickets. Earlier these upholstered in velvet chairs, were completely free of charge for exclusively members of the Central Committee, secretary of the Leningrad Regional and City, high-ranking foreign guests, and before that for the representatives of the reigning House of Romanovs.
I can not boast of having seen many “live” performances of the Boris Eifman. Long time ago, Eifman Theatre came on tour to Kazakhstan. The performances were on the Congress Hall scene in Astana. I have watched the “Red Giselle” ballet. I was not able to come to life after the performance, colleagues asked me: “Will you go backstage to interview?” “What do you mean, – I said – My legs and hands are shaking.”
July 2016 and I am at the Alexandrinsky Theatre now. I am waiting for the pleasure and wonder. Seated on strapontin in the 4th row, I’m trying to calm inner turmoil. So gorgeous, almost black in the dark, the curtain suddenly disappears and opens a window to another dimension.
“Anna Karenina” ballet is called one of the best works of Boris Eifman. It has everything: “life, tears and love”. When you watch this concocted life from the side of the spectators’ hall, you begin not only to empathize with everything going on, but to live the life of the characters.
The performance united brilliant literature, brilliant music and the brilliant choreography. It goes too quickly. It seems intermission only need to rested actors, and the audience… The ballet does not let spectators go for a moment. I confess, even applause between scenes of the performance seemed superfluous. As they are unnecessary when performing an instrumental concert, which contains several parts. But for me and other audience applause must have been needed because of the opportunity to remove emotional stress. All the actors in this theater have incredible charisma. This is also about the soloists and corps de ballet, too.
Where does Eifman find such artists? He does it perfectly!
Everyone who appears on the scene, is the one and only, as an instrument in the orchestra, as a note in the score, which are indispensable for a holistic product. The performance seemed very masculine in nature.
In my opinion, this ballet is not about Anna, she is just a reason to talk about two opposites: about Karenin and Vronsky; two principles of world outlook, organization of life and human relations. I’d even draw a parallel (sorry, socio-political) – it is a ballet about the choice between well-minded conservatism and uncontrolled liberalism, where the human life is at stake. What to do … as someone once said: “To live in society and to be …”
Let us return to ballet and impressions. There comes a moment when unhappy Anna throws her life, her happiness, sorrow in front of a train and disburdens. She is free. Karenin and Vronsky have to live, but that’s another story. The audience after the final sounds of music, the last strokes of the hands and the final pas not just shocked by what they saw, they intuitively understand that the miracle was revealed just a moment ago, and it will not happen again. When the heavy curtain reopened and stage actors are all safe and sound, and then Boris Eifman joins them smiling, the public does not appease. The hall gurgles, no one goes away, they bring flowers, shouts of “Bravo” does not cease, the audience seemed to hope that if they now sit in their places, then everything is repeated again. But no. It is probably impossible for encore. The artists probably have enough power, but it would be difficult for the audience to be in shock again.
After the performance we went backstage to express our admiration. Artists have already gone, stage workers removed the props, but Boris Eifman remained on the scene and continued to accept congratulations. Maestro came up to our group. Eifman is well acquainted with the administration of “Astana Ballet”. He knows that the theater from the Kazakh capital wants to have one of his productions in its repertoire. Looking at artistic director of “Astana Ballet” Theatre Assel Kurmanbayeva, Boris Yakovlevich said with a smile: “Yes, yes, I think the music is already chosen.”
“Oh – I thought – is it truth that the original ballet of Eifman is going to be in our theatre’s repertoire? Is that a miracle? When we went behind the scenes, I noticed that good friends of Boris Eifman approached him. Arms outstretched for a hug, he went to Eifman and said loudly: “Boris, I know you are genius, but you surpassed yourself!”
Is Boris Eifman genius? Yes, he is.
The Russian ballet lucky enough that Eifman did not go abroad, though he was invited there, that despite all the difficulties and obstacles he could create an author's theater, to create performances that distinguishes unique choreographic language.
Today Boris Eifman is not simply one of the most famous choreographers of the world, he is the brightest icon of modern Russian choreography; so the 70-year anniversary of the choreographer was a momentous event in the cultural life not only in St. Petersburg. Eifman pleased the fans with anniversary events, among which there were the July performances in St. Petersburg, photo exhibitions in his hometown, which were dedicated to choreographer and to the theater. And the fact that the largest diamond was mined in early July on the “Nyurbinskaya” placer weighing 214.65 carats, will be named after the Russian choreographer, ballet master and artistic director of the St. Petersburg State Academic Ballet Theatre of Boris Eifman, speaks volumes. So, Boris Eifman is a national treasure in all respects. We would like to extend congratulations on a remarkable anniversary not only to him, but to all of us, because it is happiness to watch his ballets and enjoy his choreography. I wish that kind of happiness to all of us. Boris Eifman’s words allow to look with optimism into the future: “Anniversaries are associated with the tabulation of results. But I’m not going to look back and draw the line, because my best ballet is not created yet. Today, I am full of creative energy and ideas. I hope to be able to adequately implement them.”