May 24, 2015
An elegant, tall man in a white lab coat strolls with imperial grace across the City Center stage littered with his psychiatric patients, one with a noose around his neck, another under a stool, a third clutching a doll. Choreographer Boris Eifman hints that the connection between the man who walks and the ones that writhe is too strong and the man, much too confident. Midway through the ballet, the doctor’s examining, staccato gestures are now those of his former patient, former wife. Oleg Gabyshev, a soloist with Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg since 2004, remains the magnet throughout this narrative ballet. His every move feels organic and expressive, a testament to Eifman’s inventive choreography, as much to his embrace of the Eifman style.
His patient played by Lyubov Andreyev is cheated by a poorly sketched medical condition. Andreyev plays, at first, a warm innocent, with a nightmare or two, who becomes cool and finally cold. When the marriage dissolves, Gabyshev falls for an Actress who barely acknowledges him, but grants him access to her work life. Suddenly, he is a witness to the chaos of a movie set, and then we see a movie of that scene above the backs of the company who sit on the floor, watching it as well, projected on the back wall.
Eifman packs his ballets with swift moving plots with the ease of a tv director squeezing the essence of a feature film into a 30 second commercial. Both the marvelous set designer Zinovy Margolin and costume designer Olga Shaishmelashvili play off 1920s chic. In this ballet which premiered on January 27, 2015, Eifman has two choreographic threads - one being the emotional ride of the doctor, his relationship with his patient, the patient’s Father (Jiri Jelinek), and a Movie Star played with only kitsch appeal by Maria Abashova, and, the other, being the carefree couple dances of the early twentieth century that take place in a glamorous ballroom and later by the sea. His company members clearly enjoy being mad and madcap; they dance with complete freedom and confidence.
What would George Gershwin, or his fans, think of the choreography set to so much of his music, from “The Man I love” to “Concerto in F, Part I Allegro” to “Fascinating Rhythm?” He’d probably say, "cut the angst and stick with the joy. These Russians love to dance!"
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY --Deirdre Towers