« A World Premiere, Here, This Weekend | Main | Jason Moran »

Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg

Did you see the incredible world premiere of Onegin this weekend?

Eifman Ballet of St. Peteresburg

What an absolutely stunning world premiere! Boris Eifman's modern-day take of Pushkin's 19th century novel, Eugene Onegin, was packed with contemporary Russian drama, brilliantly bold scenes, and astonishing movements from Russia's greatest dancers. Of course we would expect nothing less from Boris, who's often referred to as Russia's greatest living choreographer. Did you make it to the show? We'd love to hear what you thought!

In case you missed it, watch the performance preview with Boris Eifman and Northrop's Director Ben Johnson.

Comments

Last night it was an extraordinary performance Thank you!

The performance seemed dated and in Broadway show style, which I don't care for. Some of the choreography was new and exciting, but much of it was stale, like West Side Story or Cabaret. There are three things that make me want to stay away from Northrop: 1. There are no good seats in the place. 2. The audience applauds too often. For the Eifman, the applause started before a scene was over. I could not even hear the final notes of music because the unsophisticated audience started clapping so soon. Can't Northrop ask the audience to hold applause until the performance is completely over? It's like disc jockeys on the radio who talk over the end of a song. 3. The programs offered at the Northrop are very rarely cutting edge. They are very old and stale.

What some call "stale" or perhaps derivative, I call homage. I also saw a bit of direct Martha Graham and Cyd Charisse in the big dream scene from Singing in the Rain. If it works, let it be. Eifman always astonishes -- the April 25 performance was a breathtaking exhibit of his mix of ballet, contemporary dance, and a bit of gymnastics. The set worked wonderfully. My only real complaint: The music for this troupe seems to be many decibels louder than is necessary--I feel hammered by the sound.

I do agree that Northrop audiences (and MN audiences in general) are ridiculously addicted to applause, and Northrop would do us all a service by noting that applause should be held. It breaks the dramatic tension as the movements evolve.

As for seating--yes it is a mess. Could you please give us an update on the renovation schedule?

I really enjoyed the performance last night. Although contrasting it with Eifman's Anna Karenina performance two years ago, it was not as lushly creative or breathtaking. However, the dancers, as always, were quite strong and extremely versatile, as well as the lighting, set and costumes added much to overall presentation. I rather liked the music (and sound level) too.

The only reason, I rejoined as a subscriber was because the renovation is actually planned. I was very disappointed to hear the plans were pushed back a year and therefore will have to sit on broken chairs yet another year, while across campus a brand new state-of-the art football stadium is being erected.

As a lifelong resident of Minneapolis, I believe we miss the mark on historic preservation of our landmarks. I truly hope the university preserves the original grand architecture and what makes the venue 'Northrop' and updates only the seating, site lines and sound systems. It would be a shame if any of the beauty is lost for the sake of architectural progessiveness.

My daughters and I thorouly enjoyed the ballet. Yes, the last one they did was also marvelous. The applause was deserved and the shout-outs(which I participated in)were also deserved.

My husband and I were blown away by Friday night's performance. It was anything but stuffy and staid; it was marvelously young, edgy, sexy and exciting. The performers' very thoughts came through to us. I did happen to sit behind a very tall man and had to peek around him, side to side. I think that sort of thing will be remedied in the renovation. The offer of yummy bars as we exited was a very nice touch!

I tended to like the choreography, but found the adaptation troubling on three accounts: 1. I am not sure that Onegin is a very interesting character to explore the "soul of russia." Perhaps this is due to the more general problem with the timing of the adaptation. 2. Why now for Onegin? What is it about the conjuncture that is Russia today, post 91, that called forth Onegin to explore the state of Russia/humanity? The adaptation seemed confused as to how Onegin and the other characters were to represent the historical forces that motivate Russia today. Finally, Tatyana was basically represented as a kept women. Any chance that she has matured beyond the sexiness of what Onegin might have represented was lost in the rather comedic "Pygmalion" transformation scenes. It made me wonder what an adaptation that focused on Tatyana would say about Russia. Which brings me back to the dancing: the dancer that played Onegin seemed to overplay the role, I never thought he was not performing. Of course, I had a wonderful time and look forward to seeing the troupe again.

I agree with the previous poster that the adaptation of the characters was really troubling, particularly Tatyana's character. In Pushkin's poem she defies social norms by expressing her feelings and initiating contact with Onegin through her letter. In the ballet, that act seemed underscored as the childish act that Onegin construed it to be. Following the separation from Onegin, Tatyana's agency continues to be diminished. It's not her choice to remain with her husband; she is kept by force; once again she is a victim of circumstance and male dominance. Eifman seemed to consistently overlook the dimensional possibilities of the character. Only the performer saved Tatyana from death by irrelevance.

As to Onegin, I too thought that the character was stripped down to random, pointless moodiness and nihilistic excess. And with him, the performer didn't help much either. It was hard to figure out from the interpretative adaptation, why we would continue to care for Onegin after the first act. Onegin's conflicted nature, the essence of Pushkin's original character, was reduced to plain vanity and egocentrism. It was hard to figure out through whose eyes Eifman was asking us to view contemporary Russia. Both characters were reduced to immature personalities, and so they seemed diminished in their capacity to carry a commentary on social conditions and sentiments.


I too enjoyed a lot of the choreography. I was not as impressed with the choreography for the large group, in fact, some of it was rather lame. However, the star dancers were excellent. The music and production made it feel a little like a 1980's Vegas spectacular, and this really hampered my overall enthusiasm. As far as the applause issue goes- I can't remember the last performance I went to that did not receive a standing ovation. Even the most mediocre of performances receive this honor. I'm all about giving loud and ample credit where it's due, but shouldn't this gesture be reserved for those rare experiences when you feel so moved by the work that you leave the theater in a state of spiritual elevation? I experienced this feeling after Missa Brevis, but certainly not Eifman.