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17 July 2017 (Mon), 19:00 World famous Bolshoi Ballet and Opera theatre (established 1776) - Marvellous Main (Historic) Stage - Modern Ballet Modern Dance Ballet of Boris Eifman. "Russian Hamlet" Music: Ludwig van Beethoven, Gustav Mahler Tickets available only at

Running time: 2 hours

The performance has 1 intermission

Schedule for Modern Dance Ballet of Boris Eifman. "Russian Hamlet" Music: Ludwig van Beethoven, Gustav Mahler 2018/2019

Orchestra: Bolshoi Theatre Symphony Orchestra
Ballet company: St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet

Choreography: Boris Eifman
Set Designer: Vyacheslav Okunev
Composer: Ludwig Van Beethoven
Composer: Gustav Mahler

Modern Ballet in 2 act

Premiere of this production: 24 June 1999

In this ballet Boris Eifman refers to the life story of Prince Paul, later becoming Emperor Paul I of Russia. Here the choreographer does not endeavour to simply stage this well-known plot borrowed from the history of the Romanov’s dynasty – the struggle for power between Empress Catherine the Great and her son – but with psychological insight so characteristic of his style tries to offer a philosophical view and analysis of how political power distorts human relations and brings a human personality to a collapse turning a crown prince into a half-madman.

Keeping in line with the mission to promote Russian contemporary choreographic art, Eifman Ballet has been actively engaged in touring all over the world. The Company’s touring geography includes, besides Russia, many countries such as Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Switzerland, South Korea, Spain, USA, and others. Eifman Ballet's current repertoire includes world-acclaimed ballets Anna Karenina (2005), The Seagull (2007), Eugene Onegin (2009), I, Don Quixote (2010), Rodin (2011), Beyond Sin / The Karamazovs (2013), Requiem (2014), Up & Down (2015), Red Giselle (2015). The most recent ballet Tchaikovsky. PRO et CONTRA was premiered in St. Petersburg in May, 2016.

“The life of Prince Paul, afterwards Paul I of Russia , bears a striking resemblance to that of Prince Hamlet (contemporaries began calling Prince Paul ‘a Russian Hamlet’ already during his life); it is enigmatic in more than one aspect, full of ill omens and mysticism. A young Prince of the great Empire, with a bright outlook and brilliant education, he eagerly strived to prepare himself for the service of his Motherland, but assassination of his father – Emperor Peter III, dislike of his mother – Empress Catherine II who was afraid of her own son and heir, the atmosphere of never-ending spying, intrigues, fear and humiliation was what eventually brought Paul to live in his own imaginative world of fantasies and hallucination, persecution mania and spiritual loneliness. From the days of his childhood he was prone to mysticism (historical records have documented a story of Paul’s meeting the ghost of Emperor Peter the Great), and he presaged his own tragic end; this was the reason why he so passionately climbed to power to have time for progressive reforms in Russia. He was not understood, cruelly killed by the court nobility and cursed.

The hero of our ballet is Prince Paul in his younger years. We depict him in the period when he was full of bright ideas, far-reaching ambitions, and about to come across the first tragic turns in his life. This is a search for an answer to the eternal Hamletian dilemma: ‘To be or not to be?’”

Boris Eifman

Boris Eifman - Artistic Director of St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet

People’s Artist of Russia, the Laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation, the laureate of the Golden Mask and the Golden Soffit awards, the holder of the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 2nd class.

Boris Eifman, the founder and creator of his own theater, his own style, and his own ballet universe, who is called “one of the leading choreographers in the world” and an “amazing magician of the theater”, was born in 1946 in Siberia, into a family that was connected neither with ballet nor the theatre. From early childhood, however, he wanted to express his feelings and his thoughts in body language, in dance. He himself would later say, “For me, ballet is more than a profession. It is a means of existence, my mission on this earth. Using its resources, I am compelled to convey what is given to me from on high. Most likely, I would simply suffocate on my emotions if I didn’t have the possibility of expressing them through art. For me, choreography is art that is deeply religious, in the broadest sense of the word.”

The innate sense of movement and the “instinct to compose” brought him to the Leningrad Conservatory, where he studied in the Choreography Department, and then to the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, where he worked for ten years as a choreographer, composing new works for student performances. Finally, in 1977, he formed his own ballet ensemble. This is the moment when the Eifman story began, as, with his talent, with his blood and sweat, with his energy, dedicating himself a full twenty four hours a day, he began to create his own theatre.

Eifman brilliantly combined cutting-edge achievements in the world of ballet with what he learned in the academic school of classical Russian choreography, to which he traces his roots. “What I do can be called the dance of emotions, free dance, a new language, in which classical ballet, modern dance, ecstatic impulses and many other things are interwoven…,” he said at the time. His dancers, who had an exclusively academic grounding, had to acquire a new vocabulary of body movement.  It was a completely different kind of choreography, whose fundamental principle came into being as the troupe was formed by Eifman.

Eifman Ballet was established by Boris Eifman in 1977 (the original name of the company was the Leningrad New Ballet). The concept of the New Ballet was more than innovative for its time: from the first days of its work it was conceived and developed as an experimental laboratory, a ballet theatre for one choreographer.

The company’s first performances such as Two-Voice and Boomerang brought success and stirred intense interest of the audience; ballet critics began arguing about new tendencies in the Russian ballet. Advocates of the traditional ballet school, however, were rather reluctant to acknowledge the young choreographer’s authority. Eifman’s novelty in how he chose literary basis and music for his ballets, the audacity of the body movement vocabulary secured for him the reputation of “a choreographic dissident”.

In late 70s – early 80s Eifman’s theatre is working out its own individual approach to repertoire formation. More and more new ballets based on the world classical literature appear on the playbill. The choreographer and his company, characterised by an outstanding dance intellect, explore new genres. Boris Eifman creates performances whose distinguishing feature is the strikingly sharp choreographic patterns, intended to express the fiery passions of ballets’ characters: The Duel, The Idiot, The Mad March Day, or the Marriage of Figaro, The Legend, The Twelfth Night, Master and Margarita, Murderers etc.

Today St. Petersburg Eifman Ballet is renowned among ballet lovers in Asia, Europe, the Americas and in Australia for such ballets as Tchaikovsky; I, Don Quixote; Red GiselleRussian HamletAnna KareninaThe SeagullOnegin, Rodin, Beyond Sin, Requiem and Up & Down. These works were generally recognised. Not only they represent the highest artistic level of achievements of the contemporary Russian ballet, but also turn the audience to the immortal spiritual heritage of Russian and world culture that inspired the choreographer and his dancers.

Boris Eifman’s endeavour to engage his spectators in the infinite world of human passions, to form a spiritual liaison with the audience, to amaze viewers by the brilliance and dynamism of his plastique – all this has ensured a decades-long success of Eifman Ballet’s performances at leading venues around the globe.

Boris Eifman is a philosopher choreographer. He is earnestly concerned with the problems of today, with the secrets of creativity. The choreographer 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 calls Boris Eifman the leader among living choreographers: “The ballet world in search of a major choreographer need search no more. He is Boris Eifman.”

The company is distinguished by its brilliant technique, unique dedication and high onstage intelligence. Today excellent dancers, winners of international ballet contests and laureates of the Russian Government prizes in the field of culture, holders of the prestigious Golden Mask and Golden Soffit awards, implement Boris Eifman’s ideas: Oleg Gabyshev, Dmitry Fisher, Nina Zmievets, Lyubov Andreyeva, Anastasia Sitnikova, Sergey Volobuev and others.

An important period in the company’s life began in 2011, when the Government of St. Petersburg took a decision to launch the construction of the Boris Eifman Dance Academy – a project originally initiated by the choreographer himself. In September 2013 the Academy announced the start of its first academic year.

Another Eifman-initiated ballet institution is to be built and opened in St. Petersburg in the near future. It is the Boris Eifman Dance Palace envisioned by Boris Eifman as a new world center of dance arts.

Forming an original ballet repertoire of modern Russia based upon the rich traditions of Russian psychological theatre, along with searching for and developing new forms of choreography of the XXI century are among the key priorities within the artistic mission of Boris Eifman and his brilliant company.



Catherine is humiliated by the drunken debauchery of her husband, Tsar Peter III. Her Court Favorite aids her in staging a coup against the Emperor. Little Prince Paul becomes an involuntary witness to the murder of his father.

Act I

We are in the Russian Royal Court Chambers in the middle of 18th century. Young Prince Paul feels alone among the hypocritical courtiers, in the atmosphere filled with empty chatter of the maids, gossip and intrigue, His mother – the Empress – is inaccessible, always shielded by her Favorite.

Catherine keeps her son away from the throne – for her, power is indivisible.

The Favorite's attempts to accustom the Prince to the depravity of Court life do not bring the expected results, and so the Empress decide that an early marriage must distract him from any thought of inheriting the throne.

Paul is happy with his wife, but she is filled with ambitious plans – she dreams of power and pressures him to fight for the throne of Russia. The Empress discovers the young bride's intentions. Lies and treachery are commonplace in the struggle for power, and Catherine's next scheme destroys Prince's happy life in marriage – his wife becomes Favorite's prey. But even that is not enough: the death of his beloved is the full price paid for her pursuit of the throne.

Paul is scared in the midst of the endless chain of betrayals and crimes.


Act II

The events of the past haunt Paul; his fantasies intertwine with reality. The hostile labyrinths of the Royal Palace frighten him and take away the hope of breaking free from the power of the Empress, who still keeps the Heir away from the slate affairs. Paul finds gratification of his ambitions only in the world of toy soldiers, which he loved since childhood, in the neat military ranks governed by order. But, realizing that this is only an illusion of power, he, for the first time, decides to stand up to his mother – and is crushed again.

The Ghost of his father, surrounded by black knights, is calling Paul to revenge. Agonizing memories of the murder ignite the son's rage, which seeks a way out.

The Royal Palace continues inventing new forms of entertainment. Catherine the Great presides over a masked all, which soon turns into an orgy. The favorite spectacle of the Royal Court is a theatre play, but this time the actors perform a scene, in which a wife and her lover kill her husband. The Empress is furious – everything points to her role in the murder of Peter III. She tears the mask off the actor who played the murderous wife, revealing Prince Paul.

The Empress broods. Many sacrifices have been made in the struggle for power, and there is no peace in her soul. The Favorite is also in turmoil. With his caresses, he tries to reclaim his power, but in vain – his rule has ended, and he must leave the political scene…
The Heir is restless dreaming of revenge. In his fantasies Paul takes the coveted revenge – the Favorite dies in the arms of the ghost of Peter III, whom he had murdered.

In the whirlwind of fantastic images, Paul sees the Empress – now it is in her turn, he only has to wave his sword… but he cannot raise his arm to deal î deathly blow to his mother.

One vision is replaced by another – and the Empress is alone again. Her price for the throne is a complete spiritual isolation. She is separated from her son by the wall of hatred, which she herself has erected. The image of the Tsar, whom she had murdered, does not leave her alone, tortures, suffocates her…

Even in his daydreams, ascension to the throne does not bring joy to Paul – he is not destined to attain the glory of his mother. And as soon as his illusions dissipate, Paul understands: he is only a shadow of his dreams, a reflection of his own phantasmagorias…

Schedule for Modern Dance Ballet of Boris Eifman. "Russian Hamlet" Music: Ludwig van Beethoven, Gustav Mahler 2018/2019

Modern Dance Ballet of Boris Eifman. "Russian Hamlet" Music: Ludwig van Beethoven, Gustav Mahler
About This Video
Albert Galichanin (Favorite), Elena Kuzmina (Empress), Igor Markov (Heir), Alina Solonskaya (The Heir's Wife) in the ballet "Russian Hamlet"

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