Repertoire / Up & Down

A ballet by Boris Eifman
Music: George Gershwin, Franz Schubert, Alban Berg
Sets: Zinovy Margolin
Costumes: Olga Shaishmelashvili
Light: Gleb Filshtinsky, Boris Eifman

Premiere: January 27, 2015

Running time: 2 hours, with one interval

General sponsor of the production

Boris Eifman is justly called a “choreographer-philosopher”. However, a much more subtle definition that accurately captures the aesthetic individuality of the Maestro would be a “choreographer-psychoanalyst”. Rightly believing that ballet tools open truly unlimited research opportunities before a dance creator, Eifman plunges into the unknown depths of his characters’ inner worlds and penetrates into the most hidden places of the subconscious.

The quintessence of the choreographer’s psychoanalytic research has become the ballet Up & Down. The semantic space of the performance encompassed between two oppositely directed vectors of the plot (the degradation of the talented young doctor and the ascension of his wife and patient), is turned into a field for surrealistic experiments. With the help of the original plastic vocabulary Eifman depicts the disintegration of characters’ consciousness, bringing their nightmares and delusions to the surface. The choreographer emphasizes rather ironically: the ballet Up & Down is not just a full point but a blot in his many years of psychiatric ballet epic.

The characters’ ups and downs take place in the magnificent Jazz Age – the unstoppable feast of life; the era of freedom, sensuality, and hedonism, masterfully recreated by Boris Eifman and his dancers.

“Our fate is woven of cruel ironies. Wealth can be more unbearable than the most terrible poverty, and a clear and sharp mind is vulnerable to the chaos of the unconscious.

The ballet Up & Down is a tragic and bright chronicle of a person’s spiritual death. The story about how a dream of happiness turns into a disaster, and an externally beautiful and carefree life flowing to the rhythms of jazz – into a nightmare.

The ballet’s main character – a charming socialite and talented psychiatrist – has everything to realize his gift and make a great academic career. However, in the world enslaved by money and dark instincts a true harmony is impossible.

The kingdom of luxury, in which the doctor immerses, turns out a perilous morass. An attempt to find a balance between his inner world and reality goes into collapse. Concession after concession – and the character loses his identity, actually leaving the profession and becoming a nurse for his half-mad wife. His mind, charisma, and career fall into pieces. Having lost everything, the doctor becomes an outcast in the society where there is no place for the weak.

A person that forgets his mission and destroys his talent is doomed, and a compromise with the treacherous world full of temptations is always wrecking. The ballet Up & Down is to remind of the fatal consequences of a man betraying himself.”

Boris Eifman

Act 1

A psychiatric clinic. A bizarre kaleidoscope of obsessions, fears, and fragments of patients’ minds. A young Psychiatrist is in the center of this phantasmagoric world. Striving to help the miserable, he plunges into the innermost secrets of their fractured souls.

Young female Patient, a new inmate of the clinic, brought there by her millionaire father. The perceptive Psychiatrist manages to earn the confidence of the patient. The established spiritual connection develops into affection. But what is the root cause of the nightmares that torture the girl?

Psychiatrist finds Patients's Father. Under doctor’s pressure he confesses to the sin of incest.

Psychiatrist’s care helps Patient break free from the burden of the past. Psychiatrist suffers the pangs of conscience: doctor’s commandments deny any possibility of intimacy with patients.

Patients's Father – the ominous personification of the power of money – would not mind buying a personal doctor for his daughter. Such fate is unacceptable for Psychiatrist. He has to part with his patient.

Bouts of madness remind of the fragility of the Patient’s regained sanity. Her mind, split by the mental illness, generates a sinister twin that haunts the girl. And yet now, she has never been closer to recovery. Psychiatrist’s love is a salvation for her. Inhabitants of the clinic celebrate Psychiatrist and Patient’s wedding.

 

Act 2

The just married couple’s family life goes within the clinic walls. The insidious disease, ready to return at any moment, saddens their marital happiness. Patient does not want to share Psychiatrist with other inmates, so she makes him leave the clinic.

The couple’s everyday existence is turned into a carnival. However, the never ending feast does not save Psychiatrist from the aching longing for his old life filled with the doctor’s noble work. The flow of luxury that hit Psychiatrist after his marriage to the possessor of millions consumes him rapidly. The corruption of the soul cannot be stopped.

Psychiatrist meets Movie Star. The romance between them does not bring him the harmony he wishes for.

Patient’s illness finally recedes, revealing the cold and power-hungry nature of her blood. Psychiatrist’s marriage falls into pieces. Patient gets closer with Buddy, who has been long in love with her.

Psychiatrist is broken and crushed. Desperate drunken escapades are the ultimate gesture of helplessness. His medical talent is ruined, his will to live has drained, and the mind is clouded with the haze of impending madness. Psychiatrist returns to the clinic that he has left once. From now on he is its new patient.