Eifman Ballet

Eifman Ballet's Red Giselle. Photos by Evgeny Matveev
and Yulia Kudryasheva
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Real-Life Tragedy, On Stage Drama

Red Giselle marks welcome return for Eifman Ballet June 16–18

Eifman Ballet's video

It's a real-life story that would be hard to make up. Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg returns to the Center June 16 – 18 to perform Red Giselle, Boris Eifman's ballet fantasy inspired by the tragic and tumultuous life of one of Russia's greatest ballerinas, Olga Spessivtseva. This North American tour is in celebration of Eifman Ballet's 40th anniversary.

Red Giselle is set during the beginning of the 20th century, an era of worldwide revolution, expatriation and personal tragedies, and Eifman's ballerina is both a force and a victim in this captivating psychodrama. The New York Times declared, "It is a highly dramatic and theatrical (the two are not the same) work, a perfected form of narrative ballet for which others in the West have strived."

Eifman Ballet

Spessivtseva became a ballet dancer with the Imperial Ballet—there was hardly a more traditional training ground. But with the Russian Revolution, everything changed. It is likely that she was involved with a member of the secret police, and Spessivtseva found herself pulled between him and her ballet master. Leaving Soviet Russia in 1923 for Paris of the Jazz Age, she danced for Ballets Russes and Paris Opera Ballet, where she was a triumph and made a prima ballerina.

Eifman Ballet

She was most closely associated with the title role in Giselle, and her depiction of the delicate village girl who dies of madness echoed Spessivtseva's own fragile state of mind. She had several nervous breakdowns in the 1930s, but after moving to New York at the beginning of World War II, she suffered another breakdown that required hospitalization. Spessivtseva was moved to a mental asylum where no one spoke her language or knew of her previous fame. She was there for 20 years before she was discovered by a fan and moved to a comfortable retirement home in upstate New York for Russian exiles, where she died in 1991, having never returned to her homeland.

Eifman Ballet

In Eifman's own words about Red Giselle, "I was shocked to learn the details of Spessivtseva life. This unique actress who was bathed in glory, worshipped by admirers and critics, one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century, who later spent 20 years in a mental clinic near New York, totally alone and deprived of her rights! And it was the deep and tragic sadness I felt when I learnt this that motivated me to produce Red Giselle. The ballet is not an illustration for Spessivtseva's biography, but an attempt to draw a generalized picture of her fate and of those of many talented people who were forced to leave Russia and finally came to a tragic end."

Eifman Ballet

Eifman's works appeal to the dance fan as well as those who crave powerful and provocative theater. SFgate.com says, "This Russian dancemaker and his dancers are among the most fascinating artists before the public today," and he amazes audiences with the brilliance and dynamism of his choreography. Eifman speaks openly with his audience about the complicated and dramatic aspects of human life: He defines his genre as "psychological ballet." The New York Times says, "One has to admire the impact of Mr. Eifman's choreography and the sheer originality of his theatrical vison" and calls him the leader among living choreographers. No wonder he celebrating the decades-long success around the world and right here in Orange County.


Dates: June 16 – 18, 2017
Tickets: $29 and up
For tickets and information, visit SCFTA.org
or call (714) 556-2787.
Group services: (714) 755-0236

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The Center's International Dance Series is made possible by:
Audrey Steele Burnand Endowed Fund for International Dance
The Segerstrom Foundation Endowment for Great Performances

With special underwriting from:
Mary and Richard Cramer
Tim and Mary Harward

Media Partners:
Classical KUSC Radio
COAST Magazine



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