What you see on stage is the result of a long development, major experience, continuous path I have overcome together with my theater. Speaking of Anna Karenina, I wanted to experience her strong emotional drama myself. I had staged a variety of ballets: political, psychological, comedy etc. But I had always wanted to make a ballet about love, so that the theme would touch people deeper and more painfully. I chose Anna Karenina.
Reading Anna Karenina anew I came to understand that psychoanalysis was born a lot earlier and not in Austria but in Russia. This novel is the model analysis of woman’s sexual psychology, her hidden life, her sexual dependence, and the tragedy of that dependence. The analysis that was as detailed as a cardiogram. This is a rare thing even in the fiction of today. I was deeply shaken by this fact.
Of course we would read Anna Karenina at school. But then, we never understood what lied beyond the limits of the text. Nowadays, the novel appeared absolutely new, with a far greater depth, with a lot more meaning for the personality of today. This is an incredible frame for the study of the nature of human being, especially of woman’s nature.
Karenina was born for an unearthly passion. Had not it been for Vronsky, she would find someone else. Or she could make him up in a dream. Vronsky came only to realize her erotic potential. In this case, he is just a subject that came she picked up on her way.
There are people for those, as Dostoevsky said, the God and the Devil fight. I think Anna was the very chosen one in whom Good and Evil tested their power once more. And actually, despite that her suicide is nothing but purification, a catharsis; still it was Evil that won.
I am just a man and male problems are closer to me. But I was really enjoying this particular female psychology. I can, following Flaubert, say that Anna is myself.
The male principle in Tolstoy is absolutely transparent. Vronsky and Karenin are understandable and elementary. Of course Vronsky could be remade as an evil character. Even in the book he is unfinished for that. He is a man of honor, a brave man, who really loved her. He even was not frightened of the metamorphosis Anna came through. He simply became bored, tired.
On the other hand, Anna is an incredibly interesting human type. She displays the very nature of female psychology and organic character, the kind of sexual dependence on man, which changes everything in woman. Woman is a complex multifaceted being. Man is far simpler and weaker. He is usually deceived into misunderstanding the mysterious, dark depths a woman conceives. There is another being that can develop inside a woman, which can control her so that she is not able to regain her own consciousness.
For the theater mechanics, a suicide under train wheels is a great problem. Anna Karenina was staged as a ballet many times before. There has always been a monstrous locomotive appearing on stage so that Anna could fall under its wheels. This was so vulgar it should not have ever been combined with ballet tradition. So I decided to introduce a metaphor. In my ballet, the corps de ballet is the key answer. This is very important. This is the force that creates the real hell for the heroine. It becomes a construction of human bodies that destroys everything on its way. It is the society that destroyed Anna and at the same time it is her own imagination. This living machine is not a bit less scary than the real locomotive wheels. In this way it becomes theatrically meaningful and polysemantic. This is the very machine that can cut anything to pieces, both body and soul. It is more terrible than any real machine.
© DE I / DESILLUSIONIST ¹-1. BORIS EIFMAN. PSYCHOANALYSIS STARTED IN RUSSIA