If you have never seen Eifman Ballet performing one of Boris Eifman’s works then you really should. Really, really, really. You might come away with a new love of dramatic dance told to the max, stupefied even by the power, or possibly just stupefied that it exists and people pay to see it. Like Bejart, Eifman has never really had a great critical reception in the UK, or points west, and yet the man and his company regularly tour the world, pleasing some no end.
If you like Kenneth MacMillan’s narrative works you may be attracted to what Eifman does – and that’s a hell of a large catchment. Think of one of MacMillan’s most visceral dramatic pdd, then the most dramatic 10 seconds… and then imagine 2 hours of it, with no light or shade in the telling, just 200% eye-popping, gut-kicking, drama. Like the drama, the movement is big and bold, often pushed as far as joints will allow and more. Shock and awe is the approach. I overemphasise of course, but not by much, I think.
All of this was to be seen in Rodin, Eifman’s 2011 work, charting life and relationships with the two most important women in Rodin’s life – Rose (wife) and Camille (lover, muse and apprentice who ended up in a mental asylum). On a positive note the company, Russian trained, are wonderfully talented, and because they just tend to do long runs of Eifman’s work, they are gloriously together – way slicker than most ballet performances. And Eifman also cleverly conjures real Rodin statues with his dancers. But never far away is that feeling that all women are available, legs forever apart and ready to clamber aboard for some hot lovin’. I’m sure Eifman aims for a deeper telling, but his dance vocabulary emphasises only passion.
I saw the second cast of Dimitry Fisher with Aigerim Beketayeva as Camille and Angela Prokhorova as Rose and they were indeed splendid dancers fully committed to what they do. It would be wonderful to see them dance MacMillan’s work with its infinitely more subtle storytelling and clever movement. But like it, or not, seeing Eifman’s company is a very memorable thing.