Thursday, June 19, 2014

"Beyond Sin" and Me

The ballet, that is.  Personally, I haven't even tiptoed anywhere near anything the pope might be inclined to categorize as sin (which would be most things, now that I think of it.)   Boris Eifman's marvellous ballet, Beyond Sin is, according to program notes, about The Brothers Karamazov, but you could have fooled me.  Within the first five minutes of spectacular dancing, Russian style--and nobody does melodrama like the Russians--I knew it was about how tough it is to be gay in Russia, and my husband was murmuring, "Hmmmm . . . is this about repression?"  There is that final scene of a lone priest hauling a large crucifix up a tortuously winding staircase.   Official program notes say something along these lines:

Amid global crisis of values of the beginning of the ХХI century the choreographer turned to secure moral foundations and created a ballet about warring against God and seeking after God, about unbelief and belief, the nature of human depravity and spiritual salvation.

By intermission, it was obvious that the rest of the audience did not get it . . . that is, laughing loudly at one particularly histrionic moment, I realized I was the only one to have made any sound at all.  So I followed the mood of the ballet and, well, repressed further giggles.  In the intermission I just couldn't help myself and, for my husband's entertainment,  imitated one of the frequently repeated overemotional pas-de-chat-like movements, resulting in my tumbling down the stairs and only slightly bruising my menopaused hip.   Which is now fine, after a glass of red wine.  Exiting the ladies room, I overheard the conversation of two dames who were approximately my age, but fancier: botox and bling had fixed them up.  And what were they saying?  "It's very . . . spiritual," said one to the other.  Her friend nodded with an air of seriousness that was hilarious.  If that's "spiritual," bottle the stuff.  I'll take a little blood-and-thunder any day, the way I shake Tabasco sauce into my meatloaf, buy bigger jewelry, smear on redder lipstick, and rub in even more Oil of Olay.  Give me Sensational, give me Stagy, give me Theatrical, give me Cloak-and-Dagger, Overdramatic!  Bring it on, because believe you me, there's nothing like any of the above when the Russians are dancing it to the tunes of Wagner, Mussorgsky, and Rachmaninoff, according to program notes . .  . music doesn't get bigger than that.  Could have sworn I heard some Khachaturian in there--a dramatic waltz somewhere, but I was probably thinking of Spartacus, of which this ballet reminded me.  
The piece didn't get great reviews in New York--probably they'd have had to call it Beyond Purity for that.  That might at least arouse curiosity.  I do believe it got better reviews where I am, but alas, where I am really does not matter in the international scope of things.  Just to illustrate:  to get to a really good ballet class, here's what I have to do:  get to my local tram stop more than three and a half hours before I want to be home again, settling down by the TV with my husband, watching the news.  So I got there and whaddaya know?  A delay.  Which meant arriving at the local Hauptbahnhof three nanoseconds too late for the regional express train that takes 12 minutes to the city with the good ballet class.  Which meant taking the ICE, which also takes 12 minutes, but they found me and insisted I pay them an additional fourteen euros and some cents (never mind the three euro ten cent ticket I'd already purchased).  I ambled off to class, but had to leave five minutes early to make the regional express back to my town.  Never mind, it was a great class and all I missed was the reverance at the end.  But I had to run, I mean really run, I mean, gang way, bulls of Pamplona run to get to track 11 in order to just make it to my train.  Never mind.  Ballet is lovely, the Russians endlessly inspiring.


  1. Oh these make me laugh! Did you really fall down the stairs???

  2. Well, just down a step or two . . . . one should never try to do a pas de chat on the stairs, in the first place. Nor an exaggerated one. Nor after a glass of white wine. Nor when one is not warmed up. But I did! And lived to tell the tale . . .


    How could a little wine possibly make this go wrong?

    You just keep on trucking -- I'm impressed that you could do it at all!

  4. Thanks! And thanks for the video of the lovely, elegant pas-de-chat. Now, that was a British one. Very perfectly placed. Just so. Precise. Lyrical. The Russians do it like WHAM! Which can, eventually, get a little overwhelming. I think I'll add a video to this post.