St. Petersburg State Theater Ballet of Boris Eifman
Degen, Arsen, Dance Magazine
Don Quixote, or the Fantasies of a Madman is the full title of the new work choreographed by Boris Eifman for his troupe. The first part of the title suggests a link with the traditional ballet originally staged by Marius Petipa and revised by Alexander Gorsky. But Eifman's new production is a free fantasy on the old ballet. Relying upon the traditional, though completely remounted, music by Minkus, and using the principal elements of the old plot--a love story involving Kitri, a tavern-keeper's daughter, and Basil, a poor barber--the choreographer has not only renewed the ballet, but endowed it with an essentially new sense.
In this new staging, Don Quixote is an inmate of an asylum who imagines himself a fearless knight. His fantasies, derived from the immortal Cervantes novel, lead us away from severe reality to the squares and taverns of Spain, hot with passion. The grotesque world of the asylum may seem amusing at first, but the smile disappears when, in the second act, one of the madmen breaks through a window in a hopeless attempt at longed-for freedom. I don't know how people in other countries would perceive this tragicomic performance, but in Russia, where not so long ago dissidents were sent to asylums for "reformation," and where even today life sometimes looks rather chaotic, Eifman's idea that only a madman can feel himself a knight and a defender of those oppressed is--alas!--right up-to-date. It should be noted that the disturbing notes of this by and large amusing performance are rather emotional but not overwhelming--there are occasional and spare tears through unobtrusive laughter.
All the choreography for this new Don Quixote, except for the wellknown pas de deux, is composed anew by Eifman. …