The Dancer Comes First

by Natalia Kolesova

The contemporary dance company Ballet Yevgenii Panfilov is now at the level of the famous Perm Ballet Academy, one of the greatest cultural institutions of Perm. The widely known Perm contemporary company is celebrated not only for the unique modern dance style advocated by its choreographer, but also for its versatile, original repertoire, in which each work symbolizes a hidden challenge.

The fruitful creativity of Yevgenii Panfilov can be gleaned from the following partial list of his works: Five Impromptus Against a Table (music by the NHA's, Saint-Saëns, Vitali and Franck), Bolero (music by Maurice Ravel), Endlessly Long Life (music by the Enigma group), Island of the Dead 1 and Island of the Dead 2 (music by Sergei Rachmaninoff), Waltzes for the Dim-Witted (music by Emil Waldteufel), Eight Russian Songs, Cinderella, Second and Last Part (music by Vincenzo Bellini), The Parrot's Cage (music by Bizet-Schedrin), Duets the Color of Fog (music by the Queen group), Mistral (music by Karl Orff), The Legend of the Flying Toad, Triptich (music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky), Carmila Burana (music by Karl Orff) Not-romantic Dreams, Romantic and Surrealist Dreams, Several Show-pieces for the program «Wide awake», Le Spectre de la Rose.

Organized at the end of 1994, this institution recalls a present — day ancient centaur. It is evident, that this theater is headed by two people of absolutely different aesthetic views and orientations: Ludmila Sakharova, Artistic Director of the famous Perm Ballet Academy and Yevgenii Panfilov, one of the first devotees and enthusiasts of modern dance in Russia.

However, despite their dissimilarities, both personalities confess to have one single «credo» — admiration and reverence for the dancer, i.e. the dancer comes first. It follows then that what the dancer performs — be it, a fragment of Giselle or a interpretation of Nabokov's modern novel Lolita — is less important to this new theatrical organization than is the artist who does the performing. (Lolita was, in fact, premièred by the Ballet Yevgenii Panfilov at the American Dance Festival). In fact, a ballerina's legs wearing point shoes, crisscrossed with the expressive bare feet of a modern dancer was the dual symbol chosen as the company's logo.

The fusion of classical and modern dance undertaken by the choreographer in his newly premièred work Metamorphosis is at the same time natural and formalistic. The upper level students of the Perm Ballet Academy dance in all the «classical episodes» of this work. And there where the quality of the performers is high, an organically structured synthesis supports the logical links joining the episodes which form the collage of the new work.

The mixture of present and past in this new piece symbolizes present reasoning, burdened by memory and disappointment.

A musical collage of classical ballet music — Tchaikovsky, Adam, Délibes — and of contemporary group music — «Dead can Dance» and «Daddy has Hanged» accompanies the action.

Multiciphered ad multifaceted, Yevgenii Panfilov's Metamorphosis is subordinated to one idea alone; The eternal life of the human soul. The soul's incarnation and re-incarnation engages the choreographer more and more, as he penetrates into the intellectual understanding of beauty, death, love, hatred and art.

The anxiety of the creator is so strong, however, that, finding himself in a permanent state of flux, he searches for new forms of self-expression as he gives us a non-stop series of premières. The first sketch-draft of Metamorphosis was presented before the public at the festival New Trends in Volgograd. As usual, Yevgenii Panfilov chose a poetic and encompassing title for the work: Lullaby for Men.

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