Eifman Ballet 

Choreographer Boris Eifman cuts to the chase in his evening-length ballet Anna Karenina, focusing on the love triangle at the center of Tolstoy's sprawling novel. A master at establishing character and psychological situations through movement, Eifman has created an excruciating scene between Anna and her husband, Karenin, after their marriage goes bad: while he orbits around her abruptly, seemingly trying only to get her attention, she sits stock-still in a chair staring straight ahead. Something of a martinet, Karenin remains touchingly rigid even in his grief, leaping straight up with his arms and legs symmetrically arranged. Some of the motifs introduced in this early section reappear throughout: encircling but not touching the loved one's torso in desperate attempts to win back love, and Anna becoming stiff as a board in a sort of life-in-death state that means something different when she's with her lover, Count Vronsky. Eifman has been called melodramatic, and the movements and emotions in his pieces are often larger than life. But they're not without subtlety: the best moment in Anna Karenina comes when Vronsky casually, almost absentmindedly removes Anna's caressing hand from his face. There's nothing violent about the gesture, but it's the pivotal moment of separation between them. From that point it's all downhill for Anna, whose despair is chillingly represented in the way she squeezes herself into a tiny ball, like a child trying to shut out everything, even herself. Opens Thu 6/16, 7:30 PM. Through 6/19: Fri-Sat 8 PM, Sun 3 PM. Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress, 312-902-1500, 312-922-2110, ext. 357, for groups of ten or more. $32-$67.

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