Eifman Electrifies L.A.

REVIEW by Willard Manus

LOS ANGELES -- Boris Eifman is without question the most daring choreographer in the contemporary dance world. As evidenced by Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg's recent appearance at the Music Center (with the West Coast premiere of ANNA KARENINA), Eifman's originality and theatricality cannot be matched today.

He is also fortunate in having the kind of dancers who can deliver the breathtaking splits, leaps and intensity called for by his balletic art, which is deeply rooted in modern literature, psychology and eroticism. The principals in ANNA KARENINA--Maria Abashova, Albert Galichanin, Yuri Smekalov and Natalia Povorizniuk--not only had to cope with high-velocity steps and challenging contortions but go deep into character and keep a complex story moving. Abashova, with her long legs and pliant body, was a remarkable Anna--passionate, reckless and headstrong, dancing full out from start to finish.

Eifman's creative team--Zinovy Margolin (sets), Slava Okunev (costumes), Gleb Filshtinsky (lights)--also made significant contributions to the ballet's success. Everything on stage looked fresh and bold, with spectacular effects and cinematic-like scene changes.

Set to (taped) music by Tchaikovsky, ANNA KARENINA looks at Tolstoy's tragic love story with unflinching eyes, giving us a woman who, forced to chose between passion and duty, literally dies for love. Abashova (and her alternate, Vera Arbuzova) were backed up a large, well-trained corps which excelled in the light-hearted costume-ball scene and turned, malevolently, into the speeding train before which Anna throws herself in the climactic scene.

The 2005-2006 Dance at the Music Center series will include visits by the Kirov Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Limon Dance Company, Nuevo Ballet Espanol, Miami City Ballet and Matthew Bourne's Swan Lake. For more information click on musiccenter.org