© Photo by Nina Alovert
Thirty five years ago, a ballet troupe with an intriguing name of "The New Ballet" presented its first performance – which completely justified its name. In the stagnant creative atmosphere of Russia in the 1970s, works by Boris Eifman – the founder and Artistic Director of "The New Ballet" – were like a breath of fresh air. Eifman's combination of relevant themes and deep psychological perception, philosophical ideas and fiery passions, audacity of movement vocabulary and clarity of dramatic intent were highly unusual for that time. Even more remarkable was the artists' level of commitment. The creation of a ballet troupe dedicated to performing works by one choreographer only was a unique phenomenon in itself.
Eifman's ballet theater was geared towards a continuous creative process and each year produced new titles for its repertoire. After "Boomerang," which was set to rock music, came "The Idiot," which became a phenomenon in the Russian theater and clearly defined the aesthetic goals of Eifman's ballet troupe: the dramatization of the art of dance, deep penetration into the human psyche, daring interpretation of the most relevant, or "taboo," themes of the time, and the creation of meaningful metaphors through movement. Eifman also became known for the elegance and powerful impact of the mass action scenes impeccably executed by the troupe's captivating corps de ballet.
Eifman's repertoire helped create a special type of artist, combining dancing, acting, brilliant technique, and a gift for transformation.
Eifman's ballet theater presented 27 productions in its first decade. Seeking to create a diverse repertoire, Eifman experimented with various genres, which ranged from choreographic miniatures to full-evening ballets. This period produced "The Metamorphoses" and "Autographs," "The Legend" and "A Crazy Day," "The Twelfth Night" and "Love's Intrigues."
It was also during that time that the poignant "Sub-lieutenant Romashov" and the innovative "Master and Margarita" broke though the barriers of censorship. These ballets saw an entire generation of audiences to whom Eifman's works have given an unusual feeling of freedom and on whom they have made an astounding emotional and spiritual impact.
Eifman's production of "The Murderers" signaled a new period in the life of Eifman Ballet characterized by a special emphasis on seeking new forms of dance expression, psychoanalysis through movement, and a new, previously unexplored, energy in dance.
Eifman Ballet's latest and best known productions include "Tchaikovsky," "Don Quixote," "The Karamazovs," "Red Giselle," "My Jerusalem," "Russian Hamlet," and "Don Juan & Moliere." These ballets have brought worldwide recognition to such already well-known and versatile artists of the Eifman Ballet as Albert Galichanin, Elena Kuzmina, Vera Arbuzova, Yuri Ananyan, Alexander Rachinsky, Sergei Zimin. Today, a young generation of artists is realizing its talent alongside these masters. They include Yuri Smekalov, Natalia Povorozniuk, Alina Solonskaya, Konstantin Matulevsky, Anastassia Sitnikova, Maria Abashova, Oleg Markov. Besides the talent of its soloists, Eifman Ballet also owes its success in large part to the incredibly disciplined and professional corps de ballet. Collaborating on "Tchaikovsky" has laid the foundation for a creative union between two extraordinary artists – Boris Eifman and set designer Vyacheslav Okunev, both of whom are now responsible for what is described as the "amazing visual impact" of the Eifman Ballet productions.