CULTURE

Boris Eifman’s ‘Anna Karenina’

The Eifman Ballet Theater of St Petersburg brings a Tolstoy heroine to the Athens Concert Hall this week. Two years after presenting ?Red Giselle,? the troupe returns to the Athenian venue with ?Anna Karenina,? running from February 17 to 20.

The production is defined by its sense of drama, the power of movement and the emotion it conveys. A well-known rebel of the classical ballet world, Boris Eifman, whose choreographies often explore new ground in established works, has come up with his own version of the Anna Karenina story and placed the novel?s three leading characters outside their social and historical context. A wise choice, as it turns out, given that it would be practically impossible to translate Tolstoy?s entire, dense narrative into a single dance performance. On stage, Eifman?s version unfolds in a quick succession of scenes, demanding solos and lively group scenes.

Ever since the start of his career in the late 1970s, Eifman has shown a penchant for working with characters who have been crushed by their times (?Anna Karenina? and ?Russian Hamlet? are such examples), characters who appear unstable and condemned (?Red Giselle? and ?Don Quixote?) and the protagonists of epic dramas (?Karamazov,? ?Don Juan,? ?Moliere? and ?Onegin?).

Born in Siberia in 1946, Eifman began his career as a choreographer at the Leningrad Conservatory in 1966. In 1977, he established the Eifman Ballet Theater, breaking away from classical ballet traditions. He did so at a time when the Soviet regime?s restrictions were beginning to loosen up and although local authorities gave him a hard time early on, 10 years after the troupe?s establishment and following the Perestroika, he went from being an opponent of the regime to a symbol of Russia?s dance innovation. Eifman?s troupe comprises 60 dancers and boasts its own dance center.

Athens Concert Hall, 1 Kokkali