Eifman, Boris

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EIFMAN, BORIS (1946–), Russian choreographer. He was born in Rubtzovsk, Siberia, where his parents were exiled before ww ii and returned to Kishivev in the 1950s. At an early age Eifman showed a keen interest in ballet and dreamed of becoming a choreographer. He went to Leningrad where he was admitted to the ballet faculty of the conservatory. An autodidact, without taking any professional theater directing courses nor performing as a dancer, he became one of the world's prominent choreographers of his time. His first step as a choreographer was made in 1970 with his ballet Gayane, to the music of Kachaturian, performed in the Musorgsky Theater in Leningrad; this was a great achievement for a beginning choreographer. In 1997, he founded the theater of modern choreography named after him: the Boris Eifman Ballet Theater, which was extraordinary for Russia at that time. His theater's unusual repertoire included over 40 productions comprising tragedy, comedy, biblical story, fairy tales, and philosophical and psychological works. His theater became a laboratory where he experimented with different approaches and elaborated his own unique style, which combined modern art achievements and features of the classical school tradition. In Eifman's theater, the corps de ballet holds a place of pride and plays a role comparable to soloists. Turning to Russian literature he created in 1980 the ballet The Idiot based on Dostoyevsky's novel and set to the music of Tchaikovsky's 6th symphony. This performance played a very significant role in the cultural life of Russia. Another significant event was his ballet Tchaikovsky where Eifman used movement to penetrate the inner world of the musical genius. In 1990, he created Don Quixote, based on the original music of Mincus, and its original interpretations. The performance resulted in a political manifest, his creativity turned against totalitarian rule. In 1995 he returned to Dostoyevsky and created the ballet The Karamozovs, full of lust. A peak of his creativity is the ballet Giselle, based on the magical life the Russian dancer Olga Spessivtseva. Here, Eifman achieved the supreme blend of dance styles from classical to character dancing to expressionist movements. After his visit to Israel in 1997 he created a ballet My Jerusalem, based on Mozart's requiem. One of his most impressive works dedicated to the perverse Russian history is Russian Hamlet based on the sad life of Tzar Pavel I, the son of the great Yekaterina, set to the music of Beethoven and Mahler. Many of his productions were televised. Boris Eifman was a philosopher and a very sensitive person, concerned with contemporary problems. Among his numerous awards are the People's Artist Award (1995), National Prize of Russia (1995), Theater Prize (1996 and 1997), Golden Mask Prize (1996 and 1999), the prestigious prize of Peace and Consent (1998), and the chevalier of Arts in France (1999).

[Yossi Tavor (2nd ed.)]