Anna Karenina Comes to Life Onstage

St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet returns with signature piece
By Madalina Hubert, Epoch Times
April 22, 2015 Updated: April 23, 2015    

By Madalina Hubert
Epoch Times Staff

TORONTO—The story of Anna Karenina, the heroine of Leo Tolstoy’s novel by the same name, is a classic of world literature, read by generations since the Russian writer penned it in the 1870s.

The novel’s tale of a married socialite torn by her passion for the charismatic Count Vronsky explores issues of fidelity, love, identity, and social norms. Although set in 19th century Russia, it continues to be told and retold through various mediums including films and ballets, with Boris Eifman’s work as one of the most recognized.

The St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet is a renowned Russian ballet company, combining ballet and contemporary dance in unique performances that challenge audiences to rethink their conventions and explore the psychological worlds of the characters.

Drawing from a literary and artistic repertoire, the company made its Toronto debut in 2013 with sold-out performances of the ballet “Rodin,” shedding insight into the mind and work of the celebrated French sculptor. “Anna Karenina” is the company’s most successful production.

In a video greeting to Toronto audiences, Eifman, the company’s founder and choreographer, said of “Anna Karenina”: “This is where the creative personality of the St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet is fully represented. It also shows our inherent desire to express the life of the human spirit with the help of body language.”

Svetlana Dvoretskaia is the local impresario who first brought the ballet to the Toronto stage and is now bringing it back again. Although the ballet had previously performed in Ottawa and Montreal, it had never been to Toronto before 2013.

“It’s a very simple basic question of love and responsibility that concerns everyone in their lifetime at one point or the other,” Dvoretskaia said of the story of Anna Karenina, adding that the ballet holds an appeal regardless of whether someone is familiar with the novel.

“It is the story of a sensual drive which destroys the soul of the female character and how agonizing is the choice between the voice of passion and the standards of morality,” said Eifman.

Having wrapped up its run in Montreal, the St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet will perform three shows at Toronto’s Sony Centre from April 23-25 and will then continue on its North American tour. For more information, visit: http://www.eifmanballet.ru/en