Dark night of the soul

By JEFFREY GANTZ  |  May 8, 2009

And that's just the first half. In the second, Eifman roams farther afield. Lensky appears to Onegin as a kind of gray angel from the beyond and there's another tortured duet in front of the burning circle; Olga and Tatiana show up at an infernal disco where Tatiana gets taken up by the now-blind Colonel. We get the famous waltz from Tchaikovsky's opera as the colonel's guests — the ladies in short black wigs and short black cocktail dresses — get down and the staff wheel Tatiana — who's now the Colonel's wife — across the stage, first in her bathtub, then under the hairdryer, then getting a massage, before she picks out a white off-the-shoulder number with a clingy skirt slit to the waist. Onegin appears and agonizes to some cadenza-like writing from the First Piano Concerto; he and Tatiana dance to the "Letter Music" from the opera while the Colonel gropes blindly for his wife. The guests rock out to Sitkovetsky and Tatiana shudders as her husband embraces her. It's Onegin's turn to write a letter, and to dream: he and Tatiana as of old, by the bridge; Tatiana, in a snappy green number, ripping his letter in two; Tatiana leaving Onegin to accept a necklace from her husband; the Colonel slashing blindly at Onegin with a knife until Onegin runs onto the knife. Onegin wakes, whereupon the wind scatters the pages of his letter.

As always, Eifman creates fabulous tableaux: Onegin hoisted prone by a host of gray angels and Lensky standing atop him; Onegin on his back dragging himself across the stage and rolling Lensky with him under his knees; the Colonel standing upstage under the bridge and hitting the bottle while his wife and Onegin grapple. And he has fabulous dancers: Abashova with her long limbs and long line and lush sensibility as Tatiana; Gabyshev a cocky but unstable Onegin; Fisher a settling influence as Lensky; Povoroznyuk a cute, uncomplicated Olga; Volobuev an un-Gremin-like Colonel, both cruel and piteous. It's just that these Russian souls, racked by guilt and passion and not much else, are indistinguishable from those of Eifman's The Seagull and Anna Karenina and Russian Hamlet and Tchaikovsky and Red Giselle. And the same is true of their dancing. There should be more to Russia than a universal soul.

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Related: Review: A House in Bali, Still life, Dawn Kramer's 'Body of Water', More more >
  Topics: Dance , Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Dance, St. Petersburg,  More more >
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