Fifty-two performers in the Eifman Ballet will make their Seattle debut at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall with “A Russian Hamlet: The Son of Catherine the Great,” through March 24.
The company’s creator, Boris Eifman, although a non-practicing Jew, said that his choreography brings him closer to God. After visiting Israel, at age 42, he was inspired to create the ballet “My Jerusalem.”
In The New York Jewish Week, Eifman said he always remains conscious of his Jewishness because he feels like a guest in his own country. “I feel like people look at me and wonder what I’m still doing here,” he said. “This is why I had to make a ballet about Jerusalem that looks utopian. All my life, I am a Jew in a Christian land who dreams of no more fighting.”
Eifman currently lives in St. Petersburg, where he founded the Eifman Ballet in 1977. In 1998, the ballet made its critically acclaimed American debut in New York. Eifman started the company to open doors to new ideas in relationship to ballet, drama and art as well as encourage young people to attend the ballet. He is known for combining traditional ballet with dramatic theater. Although Eifman has staged ballets to rock music in the past, with Pink Floyd and Rick Wakeman, the music in “A Russian Hamlet” is classical — by Ludwig van Beethoven and Gustav Mahler.
“A Russian Hamlet” focuses on the strained relationship between Tsarevich Pavel Petrovich (Paul I), heir to the Russian throne, and his mother, Catherine the Great. It traces his transformation from an innocent boy into a man haunted by the ghost of his slain father and fantasies of his mother’s funeral.
On March 23 at 7:10 p.m., prior to the performance, Eifman Ballet producer Sergei Danillian will present a lecture on an insider’s perspective on Eifman’s unique approach to the story of “The Russian Hamlet.”
On March 24 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., prior to the performance, there will be a community forum called “The State of the Performing Arts in Russia: Past, Present and Future” that will focus on the role of contemporary performing arts in Russia. Danillian and Eifman will join community members, art critics and UW faculty to discuss Russia’s changing social and economic environment and its effect on the performing arts. The panel will take place in the Meany Studio Theater and is free and open to the public. For tickets, call 206-543-4880 or 206-292-ARTS.