Emotion in motion

Emotion in motion

Boris Eifman prepares to premiere his latest ballet, ‘Rodin.’

Published: November 16, 2011 (Issue # 1683)


Choreographer Boris Eifman (l) gets hands on with his dancers during rehearsals for his new ballet, ‘Rodin.’

Dance and body language are capable of conveying what words alone cannot, according to Boris Eifman, whose ballet troupe will premiere the choreographer’s latest work, ‘Rodin,’ at the Alexandriinsky Theater on Nov. 22.

The ballet depicts the fate of the French sculptor Auguste Rodin and his model and muse, Camille Claudel.

Unfortunately for Camille, her famed lover and teacher refuses to end his twenty-year relationship with his wife Rose Beuret, causing Claudel to become mentally unstable. Her desperate love for Rodin is soon replaced by bitterness as she feels betrayed by him and her emotions.

In Eifman’s interpretation of the story, set to the music of 19th and early 20th-century French composers Maurice Ravel, Camille Saint-Saëns and Jules Massenet, Rodin is both an incredible love story about a meeting of minds, as well as a tragic portrayal of artistic jealousy and selfish passion that destroys the love and lives of both Rodin and Camille.

Eifman, who is known for his depictions of tortured passion and has previously devoted ballets to the tormented composer Tchaikovsky, Tolstoy’s tragic heroine Anna Karenina and the ill-fated Tsar Paul I, was not only attracted to the story of Rodin by the strong characters. In spite of the obvious difference between sculpture and dance, the basic principles of Eifman and Rodin’s work are the same. Both artists see the body and movement as a means of expressing human passions and life.

“With the help of body language, we communicate passion, internal struggle and despair in our performance, all the aspects of life of the human spirit, which are brilliantly expressed by Rodin and Camille in bronze and marble,” said Eifman. “To turn a moment frozen in stone into an irrepressible sensuous stream of body movements is what I was striving for when creating this new ballet performance.”

Movement by itself, however, means nothing. Eifman is not only a choreographer, but a philosopher and psychologist as well. His ballets are choreographed to make the audience think and empathize with the dancers through vivid portrayals of extreme psychological states. For Eifman, ballet is a medium through which to explore the meaning of life and death, love and madness, spiritual and carnal passion.

Eifman’s theatrical productions have gained fame, both at home and abroad. This success is possible largely due to his team of masters of classical and avant-garde dance. In this production, the roles of Rodin, his mistress Camille and wife Rose are played by Oleg Gabyshev, Lyubov Andreeva and Nina Zmievets, and the scenery and costumes are designed by Olga Shaishmelashvili.

The Boris Eifman Academic Ballet Theater, founded thirty years ago as the Leningrad Ballet Ensemble, is celebrated for the originality of its performances, which earned the maverick choreographer the reputation of a dissident back in the Soviet Union. Today, Eifman is known around the world for his own inimitable style, developed while working with the traditions of Russian classical ballet.

Next year, “Rodin” will be performed on the stage of the Bolshoi Theater as part of the Chereshnevy Les (Cherry Orchard) Open Art Festival in May.

“Rodin” will premiere at 8 p.m. on Nov. 22 at the Alexandriinsky Theater, 6 Ploshchad Ostrovskogo. M. Gostiny Dvor. Tel. 710 4103.

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