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Art Starter: Boris Eifman

21 August 2012 | 6:15 am | Danielle O'Donohue

Five minutes with Boris Eifman.

Pyotr Illych Tchaikovsky composed some of ballet's most recognisable pieces of music, including The Nutcracker's Dance Of The Sugar Plum Fairy and Swan Lake's Dance Of The Swans. It makes sense then, that Russian choreographer Boris Eifman would take inspiration from the life of this brilliant composer. Bringing his Eifman Ballet company to Australia for the first time to present the acclaimed work  Anna Karenina and Tchaikovsky, Eifman is grateful to be able to work with such rich subject matter.

“Tchaikovsky's work is some of the greatest in the world culture,” Eifman says. “Someday we will be gone, as well as our problems and doubts, but the emotional and spiritual elements created by the composer will power many generations to come.”

Despite a lifetime immersed in the world of ballet, Eifman hopes that his Australian audiences aren't just made up of long-time ballet fans. “I would like to emphasize that our work is available to anyone who is willing to open his or her heart to the art of the dance. We do not focus on the experts and sophisticated audiences. It is really hard to describe in words what we try to say with body language. Our ballet is not a composer's biography adapted for the stage but an attempt to put his personality, emotions, and immortal music into the dance.”

To mark Eifman's massive contribution to dance culture in his home country of Russia, a new academy bearing the choreographer's name has opened in St Petersburg and is about to celebrate its first intake of students. “We are going to look for talented kids from all over Russia to give them a unique education. Students of the dance academy not only will be able to become ballet dancers or theatre management specialists but also will get a chance to succeed in life and find their place in society. Careful attention will be given to orphans and children from problem families. I believe that art people today have no right to ignore acute social problems facing all of us.” But first, dancers who have already been influenced by this world-renowned choreographer will be giving Australian audiences a glimpse of Eifman's magic.

Tchaikovsky will run in Sydney from Wednesday 22-Sunday 26 August, Capitol Theatre, and Melbourne from Wednesday 5-Sunday 9 September, Regent Theatre.

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