Center Stage: Eifman Ballet is ‘Up and Down’ at Segerstrom Center June 5 – 7

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Segerstrom-Center-Eifman-Ballet-Photo-by-Michael-Khoury_8No one does dark nights of the soul better than Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg.

As gut-wrenching as they are unforgettable, each of the company’s works is wrought of a richly layered emotional intensity and the stark, evocative beauty of its dancers’ virtuosity.

From “A Russian Hamlet: The Son of Catherine the Great to Anna Karenina,” “Onegin,” and “Rodin” to name just a few, Artistic Director Boris Eifman has spent years delving deftly into the human psyche.

Through his company’s unique blend of dance and theater, the renowned choreographer explores themes of love, loss, and betrayal with dramatic poignancy.

This weekend, Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg returns for its eighth visit to Segerstrom Center for the Arts with the highly anticipated West Coast Premiere of “Up and Down,”Segerstrom-Center-Eifman-Ballet-Photo-by-Michael-Khoury_3 which closes out The Center’s 2014-2015 International Dance Series.

While “Up and Down” may be set against the backdrop of the French Riviera, its true landscape is the unconscious mind, says Eifman. It’s there that his two key characters, “Psychiatrist” and “Patient,” dance out their doomed love affair, with music by George Gershwin, Arnold Schoenberg, Franz Schubert and Alban Berg conjuring up the jazzy decadence of the 1920s.

“I was totally captured by the conception of a ballet depicting the life story of a young gifted person who ruined his identity, career and happiness on his own accord,” says the award-winning Eifman via email earlier this week. “It’s the parable about how fatal the lack of will can be. We all face temptations, but not everyone remembers about the danger the compromise with the world around carries.”

Segerstrom-Center-Eifman-Ballet-Photo-by-Michael-Khoury_4Reflecting on his creative process and the journey that resulted in “Up and Down,” Eifman’s insights prove as powerful and provocative as his works themselves.

“There is no fail-safe scheme,” he reveals. “I can be inspired by music, by literature, by the life story of an artist. When the fire is lit inside me, I should do my best to carry it through hardships and doubts to create the impressive and distinctive piece of art. I rely on my artistic intuition.”

“Body never lies,” Eifman continues. “It carries the priceless information about the emotional life of our predecessors. If choreographer manages to spell out these ancient messages, then dance becomes not only a physical, but also a spiritual process. Surely, such great researchers like Freud or Jung know a lot about our mental sphere, but it’s choreographer who owns a key to the greatest mysteries of human nature.”

And what about all those tragic endings?

“Well, life is a cruel thing, but you should never give up hope,” he affirms. “That’s true, the characters of my ballets are usually put in the dramatic circumstances, but only because such context uncovers the immensity of our inner world. I’m not gloomy… I believe in the power of human spirit.”

Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg performs “Up and Down” June 5 – 7 in Segerstrom Hall at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. For tickets and information call (714) 556-2787 or go to


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