Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Boris Eifman On His Latest Work, "Onegin"

Visionary choreographer Boris Eifman will be bringing the Chicago premiere of his latest work, Onegin, to the Auditorium May 14-17. Inspired by Pushkin's novel Eugene Onegin, this is a story of love, rejection and regret.

"In turning to great literature to inspire my ballets, I try to use the art of choreography to express the emotional agitation that comes from communing with the wisdom and creative power of our genius predecessors. The word is an instrument of both creation and destruction; it can generate and it can annihilate.

The language of the body, as the most ancient form of self-expression, bears universally understood emotional and spiritual values. By turning to the literary original source, I make it my goal to reveal what is of concern to my contemporaries and what can be expressed only through the great art of choreography.
Why did I choose Alexander Pushkin’s novel Eugene Onegin, what is in it that affects me today? The novel has been called “an encyclopedia of Russian life,” in which Pushkin saw and created an amazingly accurate archetype of the Russian character of his time, fashioning a poetic image of the Russian soul, mysterious, unpredictable, and incredibly sensual.

I use my art to understand the secrets of the Russian soul. Basing a ballet on Eugene Onegin is one more attempt to express innermost spirituality through dance.

I transported Pushkin’s characters to our times, placing them in new circumstances, more dramatic, even extreme, when the old world is collapsing and life dictates new rules. I needed that experiment in order to answer the question that troubles me: what is the Russian soul today? Has it preserved its uniqueness, its mystery, its attraction? What would the novel’s characters do with their lives today? What in the novel was just a reflection of the times and what was a sign of the destiny of many generations of my fellow countrymen?

The art of choreography is unable to respond to the real questions of building a society. But by participating in the creative formulation of those questions, analysis, and individual evaluation, we participate in the process of society’s perfection." - Boris Eifman

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