Los Angeles Dance Preview: RODIN (Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion)

Post image for Los Angeles Dance Preview: RODIN (Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion)

by Tony Frankel on June 5, 2015

in Theater-Los Angeles,Tours


Boris Eifman’s kinetic Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg is quickly becoming known for full-length ballets, quite often with a plot and literary source. What you will see is frenzied dancing, electric mood swings, pulsating lighting on swirling sets, and complete commitment to the emotional peak of every scene. The huge, young troupe—currently the only Russian contemporary ballet company touring outside of Russia—consistently transforms spectacle from raw energy to a thrill-seekers theatrical delight. Eifman refers to the magic on stage as “psychological ballet”; whatever the term implies, we can feel as much as understand his constant, complex investigation of the multiple meanings behind every movement.

Photo by Gene Schiavone (13) (1280x807)

Now, this amazing company will be erupting across the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for three performances only, June 12-14, 2015. The L.A. premiere at hand is Eifman’s 2011 ballet Rodin, which explores the textured genius of sculptor Auguste Rodin and his tortured love/hate relationship with Camille Claudel, his muse/mistress and fellow-sculptor (their mix of rivalry and romance immediately recalls Zelda versus F. Scott Fitzgerald in the 1920s.)

Photo by Gene Schiavone (53) (1280x1280)

I was fortunate enough to catch this innovating and exciting work in Chicago, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Employing a supple score by French composers of the period (Saint-Saëns, Massenet and Ravel), this two-hour tour-d’art focuses on Oleg Gabyshev’s tall and elegant Rodin, lean and lovely Lyubov Andreyeva’s too-fragile Camille (both of whom I saw before), and Yulia Manjeles’ dogged and damaged wife Rose Beuret.

Photo by Gene Schiavone (26) (1280x1149)

The action opens with Camille in the mental asylum where she spent 30 years before dying forgotten in 1943. Joined by other mad ladies who abuse her, she dances out her insanity (perhaps the easiest thing to depict in ballet, which is why it’s such a favorite subject). Flashbacks to happier times become the main story: We see Camille’s raucous arrival in Rodin’s busy studio as a model who will herself turn marble into life. She is literally on a pedestal but, a proto-feminist in mind as well as heart, she will soon carve on her own. Remarkably, the dancer does as much to her body—and quicker than chisel and mallet could permit.

Photo by Gene Schiavone (33) (1032x1280)

Eifman’s triumph is the opposite: His literally statuesque dancers turn life into marble as we watch Rodin and Camille moving their limbs into the desired finality of The Gates of Hell, Clotho, and other works. The galvanic ensemble effortlessly evoke Rodin: swirling students; villagers at a grape festival; pliable, homoerotic group sculptures in progress; soubrettes leaping into a can can or gallop at a Montmartre cabaret; and dream images of statuary to come or never to appear.

Photo by Gene Schiavone (50) (1089x1280)

Along with Gleg Filshtinsky’s swift lighting changes and the awesome living sculptures that Eifman molds as powerfully as Rodin did, there are splendid effects, like billowing shrouds in clouds, revolving walls that separate the lovers like their quarrels, sprawling silhouettes of the artisans frozen in action, a high-kicking bacchanal that all but scorches the stage, and stretching spandex that reveals figures who seem aching to emerge.

Photo by Gene Schiavone (48) (1005x1280)

Eifman’s greatest feat is, in effect, to recreate creativity. We see love as inspiration in the jagged, hypnotic and almost spidery duets between Rodin and Claudel, while Rose’s anguished solos exactly testify to all the outlets for love or art denied this all-suffering spouse. This wordless ballet attests to the many more than 1,000 words behind every stage picture—all generously presented in an enthrallingly sculpted saga.

photos by Gene Schiavone

Photo by Gene Schiavone (9) (949x1280)Rodin
Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg
Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance
at The Music Center
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
135 N. Grand Avenue
Friday, June 12, 2015 at 7:30 pm
Saturday, June 12, 2015 at 7:30 pm
Sunday, June 14, 2015 at 2:00 pm
for tickets, call 213.972.0711
or visit www.musiccenter.org

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