High-tech lighting raises the emotional drama of dance in Eifman Ballet
Next month, The Sony Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto will host one of Russia’s premier contemporary ballet companies, Eifman Ballet, in Tchaikovsky. PRO et CONTRA, an exploration of the man behind the genius and the price of fame.
The show runs May 9 to May 11, and combines the physicality and emotional intensity for which Eifman Ballet performances are famous.
The founder and artistic director of the St. Petersburg-based company, Boris Eifman, says the use of technology in the performance is a large part of what is an immersive experience for the audience.
But not too large a part. There is a fine balance between technology and the human element in ballet.
“I believe that technological innovation can never replace a human being on stage,” Eifman says.
“A dancer has a truly priceless gift – a soul.”
People attend theatre in part because of the live emotions from dancers – it is real, authentic. Still, he adds, modern ballet theatre is a “complex, multi-level phenomenon.”
“Its emotional impact on the audience is made from a combination of dance, music, light, costumes and sets. The technology is lifeless. Only being a part of a great idea set by a choreographer does it become one of the most important expressive mediums and contributes to causing that emotional turmoil, catharsis … without which the art of Eifman Ballet is inconceivable.”
Eifman references both the artistic and technological development of his company since his first ballet about Tchaikovsky in 1993. This new production was created in 2016.
The lighting design includes modern, light-emitting diodes, which Eifman says makes it possible to develop a “rich lighting score contributing to the choreographic and dramatic identity of the production.”
Advanced technologies have changed both the possibilities and aesthetics of lighting over the past few decades. Those behind the production have an understanding of complex, dynamic lighting devices – none of which were used in 1993 – which provide pronounced scenic effects while evoking emotion, context and subtext that crucially and subliminally impact an audience and the way they feel about the work.
Eifman also points to the “monumental and spectacular” set design made of ultra-lightweight materials, including recyclable materials.
Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.