Boris Eifman (Борис Яковлевич Эйфман) (born 22 July 1946 in Rubtsovsk, Altai Krai) is a prolific choreographer associated with the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg. He is known for his dark portrayals of anguished sexuality and extreme psychological states. The company frequently tours abroad, and has been economically successful. While some critics have received his work positively, other responses, especially on the U.S. East Coast, have been derisive."
Eifman was born in Siberia and graduated from the Leningrad Conservatory. In 1977 he was appointed director of the Leningrad Ballet Ensemble at the age of 30 and he remained there for over 30 years.
Saint Petersburg Eifman Ballet
Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg was founded by Boris Eifman in 1977. At that time the company was named ‘Leningrad New Ballet’. The concept of ‘The New Ballet’ was innovative for that time; from the very beginning it was conceived as an experimental laboratory of one choreographer.
The very first performances ‘Two voices’ and ‘Boomerang’ brought the theater success among the audiences and prompted critics to speak of new tendencies in the Russian ballet art. However, advocates of the traditional school were reluctant to acknowledge the authority of the young choreographer. Eifman’s novelty in choosing literary basis and music, the audacity of the movement vocabulary entailed him the reputation of ‘a choreographic dissident.’
In late 70s – early 80s Eifman’s theater develops its own approach towards the repertoire formation. More and more ballets based on the works of the world classical literature appear in the theater’s playbills. The choreographer addresses classical plots and explores new genres. He creates ballets characterized by the sharpness of the choreographic patterns that render fiery passions of the characters: ‘The Mad March Day or the Marriage of Figaro’, ‘The Twelfth Night’, ‘Legend’, ‘Therese Raquin’, ‘Idiot’, ‘Duel’, ‘Master and Margarita’ et al.
As director Eifman makes his audiences not just appreciate the beauty of the ‘dance fabric’ of his performances, but empathize the scenic action. Besides the artistic quest Boris Eifman Theater was among the first in Russia to develop its own organizational model for theater management based on principles of state and private partnership.
The Company distinguished by the particular dance intellect, brilliant technique and gift for the transformation fascinates the western audience. At present Saint Petersburg Eifman Ballet is well-known among ballet lovers in Asia, Europe, the North and South America for the ballets ‘Tchaikovsky’, ‘I, Don Quixote’, ‘Red Giselle’, ‘Russian Hamlet’, ‘Anna Karenina’, ‘The Seagull’, ‘Onegin’, ‘Rodin’ and ‘Beyond Sin’.
Having choreographed over forty ballets Boris Eifman defines the genre in which he works as ‘psychological ballet.’ By using the language of dance he speaks sincerely with his audiences about the most complex and exciting aspects of human existence such as the quest for the meaning of life, the collision of the spiritual and physical in the private human world, and the cognition of the truth. ‘Throughout all my creative life I’ve been expanding the boundaries of the ballet theatre’s abilities and in the first place – searching for the body language that can express the life of spirit. Dance isn’t the physical process for me, but the spiritual one. Body language is more ancient, more profound communicative means. Reflexes of sensual life of many generations are fixed in it. To decode these signs, to transform them into the emotionally rich ballet piece – that’s our goal’, - says Boris Eifman.
The significant period in the Theater’s life started in 2009, when the Government of St. Petersburg made a decision to start building Dance Academy of Boris Eifman, the project initiated by the choreographer. The results of the competition for the best architectural project ‘Boris Eifman Dance Palace’ on the Europe Embankment were also concluded in summer of 2009. Today the enrichment of the ballet repertoire of modern Russia and the realization of these two large-scale projects are among guiding points in long-term plans of the choreographer and his Company.
Honours and awards
- Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 3rd (2007) and 4th (2003) classes
- Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (France, 1999)
- Commander of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2003)
- State Prize of the Russian Federation - 1998
- Theatre Award of Saint Petersburg "Golden Soffit" (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2005)
- "Golden Mask" (Theatre Union of Russia, 1996 and 1999)
- Award "Triumph "(1996)
- Prix Benois de la Danse for "Best choreographer of 2005" (2006)
- Order of "Peace and Harmony" (Russia, 1998)