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Eifman Ballet brings its dramatic evocation of the Jazz Age to Auditorium Theatre

Has Russian choreographer Boris Eifman been reading that era-defining classic of American literature, “The Great Gatsby”?

Audiences will discover the answer to that intriguing question when the Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg returns to the Auditorium Theatre this weekend (May 8-10), with “Up and Down,” his Jazz Age ballet set to the music of George Gershwin, Franz Schubert and that European modernist, Alban Berg.



When: May 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m.; May 10 at 3 p.m.

Where:Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress

Tickets: $30 – $95

Info: (800) 982-2787;

Of course those who have followed this virtuosic company’s many visits to Chicago over the past 15 years, and have seen such Eifman works as “Red Giselle,” “Tchaikovsky”; “I, Don Quixote” and “Rodin,” know that “Up and Down” will be “a psychological ballet.” The story of a young psychiatrist slowly driven to madness after being swept up in the money-fueled glamor of a socialite romance in the 1920s, it will feature Eifman’s trademark mix of classical and contemporary ballet and extreme drama, along with the lavish design that becomes almost another character in his work.

A scene from choreographer Boris Eifman’s Jazz Age ballet, “Up and Down.”
A scene from choreographer Boris Eifman’s Jazz Age ballet, “Up and Down.”

According to Eifman: “The newly created world of ‘Up & Down’ is filled with luxury, lust, passion and greed. It is both a tragic and bright chronicle of a person’s spiritual death — the tale of how a dream of happiness turns into a disaster, and an externally beautiful and carefree life flowing to the rhythms of jazz turns into a nightmare. I want audiences to feel all of the emotions of these characters and become just as immersed in their lives as the dancers are.”

Zinovy Margolin’s sets and Olga Shaishmelashvili’s costumes promise to transform the stage into a kingdom of luxury evocative of the American Jazz Age, with lighting by Gleb Filshtinsky and Eifman designed “to create “a stark contrast between romance, and passion infused with greed and madness.”