Russia's extraordinary Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg


COSTA MESA, CA Russia's extraordinary Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg returned to Southern California for two limited engagements: Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa from May 31 through June 5 and the Los Angeles Music Center from June 23 through 26.  The company's artistic director, Boris Eifman, offers three of his most acclaimed works, including Red Giselle and the Southern California premiere of Don Juan and Moliere in Orange County and the Southern California premiere of Anna Karenina in Los Angeles.    

I was among the lucky audience to experience the unique brilliant performance of the Eifman Ballet at the Orange County Performing Arts Center on May 31st. This ballet is a must see for anyone who appreciates dance and ballet. Although different from the usual classics, the beauty and spirit and magnificence of great dance is not lost. I found it to be a refreshing change from classic ballet. The performance had so many pluses; the dancers extraordinary talent, the mood enhancing lighting, expressive choreography, engaging sounds, beautiful sets and staging, everything! The performance is very high energy that sucks the audience into the experience onstage.

One of today's most original and adventurous choreographers, Boris Eifman has intrigued audiences around the world with his imaginative story ballets, taking dance to its highest level of expressiveness. A product of the grand Russian ballet tradition, Eifman uses his Russian heritage and classical training to create compellingly original dramas. Eifman's signature approach utilizes brilliant dance to reach the emotional heart of a story, finding new insights and nuances along the way. He not only creates thrillingly theatrical tales, but also helps develop a new type of dance artist, dancer/actors who use the solid foundation of impeccable classical ballet training as a launching pad for innovative, modern choreography and bold storytelling.


 Founded by Boris Eifman in 1977 as the St. Petersburg Ballet Theater, Eifman Ballet of St. Petersbrug has revolutionized the concept of classical dance in Russia by taking the art of ballet to its highest level of expressiveness and sophistication. Southern California audiences who came to the Orange County Performing Arts Center to experience Boris Eifman's A Russian Hamlet in 2001 and Tchaikovsky: The Mystery of Life and Death in 2003 know that this artistic genius creates ballet that is always provocative and compellingly original. New York's Newsday proclaimed him 'a master of narrative movement.'

Since its first season, the company has drawn international attention and praise throughout Western and Eastern Europe, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Israel, the United States and Latin America. The Eifman Ballet made its American debut in 1998 at New York City Center. Sharply contrasted against the strict conventions of classical ballet set by famous Russian ballet troupes like the Bolshoi and Kirov, the Eifman Ballet electrified New York audiences with its vibrant, often shocking style and frankness. The company now holds the prestigious honor as a resident company of New York City Center, the first non-American company to do so.


Boris Eifman began his choreographic career by enrolling in the choreography department of the Leningrad Conservatory in 1966. He commanded the attention of local critics as early as 1970, when he premiered his widely acclaimed ballet, Icarus. That same year, he became the official choreographer of the Vaganova Academy, the official school of the Kirov Ballet, and had the opportunity to choreograph for numerous television programs and ice shows. In 1972, Eifman choreographed Gayaneh for the Maly Opera and Ballet Theatre. It was such an overwhelming success that a film version was released in 1979. In 1975, he choreographed The Firebird for the Kirov Ballet.

Eifman is deeply concerned about the subject matter of his ballets, exploring philosophical issues through emotional depth and theatricality, fusing the expressiveness of modern dance with the language of classical ballet. Boris Eifman has traditionally been interested in psychological drama. Most of his ballets have been inspired by biographies of extraordinary people with a tragic fate, or based on literary plots. In addition to Red Giselle in 1997, Don Juan and Moliere in 2000, and Anna Karenina in 2003, other recent works include The Karamozovs, Don Quixote, Requiem, My Jerusalem, Russian Hamlet: The Son of Don Juan and Moliere

The ballet tells the story of Jean-Baptiste Moliere, - playwright, actor and director of the Royal troupe at the Palais Royale. The work follows his life through his friendship with Madeleine, his failed marriage to her daughter Armande and his efforts to create a new play based on the tale of Don Juan. There is a parallel between the two men and their love of women, victories, heartlessness and, ultimately, their deaths.
Red Giselle


As he often does, Eifman draws potent and insightful parallels between a real life person and a fictional character. Dedicated as a tribute to great Russian ballerina Olga Spessivtseva, Red Giselle tells the story of this great artist whose greatest role was Giselle - from the time she was selected to star in the Imperial Theater, through her complex and often abusive relationship with a secret police agent, to her flight from Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution and 20 years in a psychiatric ward in New York.

Anna Karenin

Eifman's choreographic rendition of the celebrated 1877 literary work explores women's dependency on sexual relationships. He describes the heroine as a werewolf. "Two confrontational human beings co-existed in her," he explains. "Anna belonged to high Society, yet she was a woman deeply plunged into the world of stormy passions, unknown even to Dostoyevsky's characters."


The Orange County Performing Arts Center applauds Audrey Steele Burnand, The Segerstrom Foundation Endowment for Great Performances and Mercedes Benz, the official vehicle of The Center for their support of The Center's International Dance Series.  Media sponsor is The Los Angeles Times. Additional support is provided by KOCE. Frei Brothers Reserve ( is the Preferred Wine of Dance at the Music Center.

Although not necessary to enjoy these brilliant ballet's, I feel that reading this synopsis before experiencing the performance will help you to understand the storyline so you can follow along. So when arriving at the theater, pland to read through it first thing.

Boris Eifman, Artistic Director
Orange County Performing Arts Center
Segerstrom Hall
Don Juan and Moliere
Southern California Premiere
Tuesday May 31 at 8 p.m.
Wednesday & Thursday - June 1 & 2 at 8 p.m.
Libretto, choreography and production: Boris Eifman
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Hector Berlioz
Sets and costumes: Slava Okunev
World Premiere: May 18, 2001, City Center, New York
Red Giselle
Friday - June 3 at 8 p.m.
Saturday - June 4 at 2 & 8 p.m.
Sunday - June 5 at 2 p.m.
Choreography: Boris Eifman
Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Alfred Schnittke, Georges Bizet, Walter Donaldson, Horst Aekermann, Bert Loska Stefan Laube and Adolphe Adam Boris Asafiev
Sets and costumes: Slava Okunev
World Premiere: January 28, 1997, St. Petersburg, Russia

Theater: Orange County Performing Arts Center Segerstrom Hall
  600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA
Tickets: $25, $40, $50, $60, $75
In Person - The Center Box Office
Online -
Phone - CenterTix (714) 556-2787
TTY number - (714) 556-2746
Groups - Group Sales office at (714) 755-0236
Dance at the Music Center
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
Anna Karenina
Southern California Premiere
Thursday - June 23 at 7:30 p.m.
Friday June 24 at 8 p.m.
Saturday June 25 at 8 p.m.
Sunday June 26 at 2 p.m.
Choreography: Boris Eifman
Music: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Sets: Zinovy Margolin
Costumes: Slava Okunev
Lighting: Glebb Filshtinsky
World Premiere: March 31, 2005, St. Petersburg, Russia
Theater: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at The Music Center
             135 North Grand Avenue, Los Angeles
Tickets: $20, $30, $50, $75
In Person - Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office
135 North Grand Ave.
Ticketmaster Outlets including Tower Records, Robinsons-May,  Wherehouse Music, Tu Musica and Ritmo Latino
Online -
Phone - Ticketmaster Phone Charge (213) 365-3500 or (714) 740-7878
Mail/Fax - Single Ticket (Music Center PDF Printable Form)
Groups - 15 or more, call Connie Nelson at (310) 446-4398
Information: Online - 
Phone - Music Center Dance information line (213) 972-0711


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