The rich cultural heritage of Russia comes to the Grimaldi Forum this month with a performance of Anna Karenina by the Eifman Ballet.

Based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy, the ballet focuses on the passionate and tragic love triangle which devastated Anna, her husband Karenin and her lover Vronsky. It is set to a score by that most romantic of Russian composers, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, which features excerpts from some of his most beautiful works – including his Symphonies Nos 2 and 6, the Fantasy Overtures to Romeo & Juliet and Hamlet, his Symphonic Fantasies for The Tempest and Francesca da Rimini, the Serenade for Strings and his string sextet Souvenir de Florence.

Anna Karenina, which had its world premiere in St. Petersburg on April 2nd, 2005, is choreographed by the Company’s highly decorated Artistic Director, President and Founder, Boris Eifman. In 1977 he formed his own ballet ensemble, combining the then innovative achievements in the world of ballet with the results of his training in the school of classical Russian choreography. At the time, he was quoted as saying: “What I do can be called the dance of emotions, free dance, a new language, in which classical ballet, modern dance, ecstatic impulses and many other things are interwoven…”, which meant that his dancers – whose background was exclusively “academic” – had to acquire what he terms “a new vocabulary of body movement”.

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Eifman’s Anna Karenina is a high-impact, emotionally charged work, built around his belief that it was Anna’s passion – her “basic instinct” – which led to her disregard for the social values of the day, and killed her motherly love. “Being so completely consumed and crushed by passion,” he says, “a woman is ready for any sacrifice.

Following the ballet’s opening in New York City in May 2005, Dr. Roberta E Zlokower wrote: “In Eifman’s usual grand scale, no emotions minimized onstage, Anna Karenina as ballet is a masterpiece, a creation that magnetizes the audience through its two angst-filled acts”.

Anna Karenina with Eifman Ballet

Anna Karenina by Russia's Eifman Ballet

In June of the same year, Heidy Weiss of the Chicago Sun Times said: “With Eifman, you are simply carried away on a tsunami of pure movement….. The result is two hours of breathtaking dancing, awash in spectacular duets and trios in which every acrobatic lift and contortion speaks the language of passion and betrayal, dissolution and rejection, appetite and disgust.”

The Eifman Ballet’s performance of Anna Karenina takes place on one night only at the Salle des Princes, Grimaldi Forum, Monte-Carlo, on September 13th at 8.00 pm. For further information and bookings, visit  the Grimaldi Forum website.  

Anna Karenina by Eifman Ballet

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Gilly Lloyd is a journalist, copy and creative writer, and editor of Preview, as well as a regular contributor to the Arts section of Examiner.com

All photos courtesy St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet; © Souheil Michael Khoury

 

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