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January 4, 2012

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Creating Russian 'psychological' ballet

A ballet about the life of Russian composer Tchaikovsky and a Russian Hamlet are attempts to create a modern Russian ballet, combining classical and modern dance and stressing modern themes.

"The new era demands new forms of choreographic art that is close to modern people and attitudes," says choreographer Boris Eifman whose ballets "Tchaikovsky" and "Russian Hamlet" will be performed on January 13 and 14 at the Shanghai Grand Theater.

"Our aim is to create new ballet repertoire of modern Russia based on the tradition of Russian ballet theater. I am convinced that Russian psychological ballet theater will become the really original art of the 21st century," says the artistic director of the Eifman Ballet St Petersburg.

The ballet, which features the Romantic composer's famous music, tells of his tormented personal relationships with three women, including a first love, an emotionally unstable wife and a rich patron - especially difficult given his repressed homosexuality. Solos and pas de deux express his conflicts. It also deals with his ambition and rebellion.

Tchaikovsky's music is used throughout the ballet drama, including Symphony No. 5 in E Minor, Serenade for String Orchestra, Italian Capriccio and Symphony No .6 in B Minor.

Established by Eifman in 1977, the company has been dedicated to innovation, enriching classical ballet with modern elements and emphasizing emotion and conflict.

"The secrets of life, of the human soul, elements of human passions always interest me in creativity," Eifman says. He describes his characters as "swept, searching, plunging into sufferings and madness."

'Russian Hamlet'

In the spirit of innovation, the company also presents "Russian Hamlet" about a young Russian prince swept up in murder, revenge and family power struggles.

The performances are very cathartic for the audience and this is a major reason for the company's popularity, according to Eifman.

"Our aspiration is that psychological theater is not restricted to drama but also includes ballet and in this view we are unique," Eifman says. Audiences need drama, deep philosophy and passion, he says.

Classical Russian ballet is acknowledged to be in crisis and in need of dancers, choreographers and leaders and Eifman aims to reinvent the art form by creating original Russian psychological ballet theater.


Date: January 13, 7:15pm

'Russian Hamlet'

Date: January 14, 7:15pm

Venue: Shanghai Grand Theater, 300 People's Ave

Tickets: 200-1,080 yuan (US$32-171)

Tel: 962-388


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