Russia’s prominent choreographer Boris Eifman has suggested creating an ad hoc commission under the Russian Culture Ministry that “would analyze the alarming situation in Russian ballet and develop measures to overcome it”.
The initiative was submitted to the Presidential Council for Culture and the Arts at the beginning of October and has been made public now in connection with the controversy over the dramatic changes at Russia's legendary Vaganova Ballet Academy.
Speaking about the weak points of Russian ballet, Eifman noted that the problem of personnel shortage received too little attention nowadays. In Moscow and St. Petersburg alone, there are eight state-run ballet companies and more than 25 in the whole country. Ballet schools fail to meet the challenges they face, including that of providing these companies with professional dancers. Eifman believes that ballet academies should prepare twice or thrice as many ballet dancers in contrast to their current turnouts. A government-backed contract is required to balance theatres’ needs and ballet schools’ capabilities.
Eifman said the current situation with choreographers was no less complicated. The greatest achievement for most theatres nowadays is to invite western ballet masters, who bring some of their own early ballets to Russian stages. A new generation of Russian choreographers will not appear without a special government programme.
“The lack of creative leaders even in the major dance companies, the absence of talented choreographers, capable of creating unique repertoire of modern Russian ballet, and theaters' staffing shortages - all these problems bring us ever closer to the Russian ballet's crisis,” Eifman warned.
Boris Eifman is one of the major figures in modern ballet. For more than three decades he has led his own Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg. In September, he opened his new Boris Eifman Dance Academy in St. Petersburg, which will be open to orphaned children and children from problem families. All classes at the academy, which is funded from the state budget, will be free of charge. The academy’s program will be comprehensive, indeed. The children will be taught everything from the art of acting and dancing to the history of music and the most delicate nuances of performing styles.