Spectacular show dance elements and some motifs from the musical My Fair Lady will also appear in Boris Eifman’s modern ballet The Pygmalion Effect, which will be presented by the Hungarian National Ballet on Saturday at the Ybl Palace on Andrássy Road.
The choreography, based on the works of Johann Strauss jr., was the first in the world to be performed by the ballet company of the Hungarian State Opera House, in addition to Boris Eifman’s own company. The tragicomic-themed ballet will be performed nine times this season in a triple bill at the Opera House.
Boris Eifman during rehearsals. Photo: Facebook Magyar Nemzeti Balett /Nagy Attila
Set in the 1920s, the ballet is about a young girl named Gala from the slums who is enchanted by the elegance of Leon, a champion dancer, and the luxurious appearance of his life. She decides to become a dancer herself to get closer to the man she covets. A worldly dancer, he is looking for a dance partner when he catches sight of Gala at a dance class. Leon turns the simple girl into a star by taking a bet.
Boris Eifman has been an internationally acclaimed creator of contemporary Russian dance for more than four decades with his St. Petersburg-based company, and his choreographed work, The Karamazovs has been a popular piece in the Hungarian National Ballet repertoire since 2009.
Eifman Ballet’s 2019 production of The Pygmalion Effect draws inspiration from the story of Pygmalion, the sculptor and Cypriot king who fell in love with his work of art and brought it to life through the intercession of Aphrodite, as well as the psychological term of the title.
Some elements of the plot of this two-act modern ballet refer to G.B. Shaw’s 1913 play Pygmalion, made world famous by the 1956 musical version, My Fair Lady. The Pygmalion Effect is, however, a work in its own right, as reflected in the choreographer’s characteristically and psychologically elaborate portrayal and the dramatic conclusion of the plot. Johann Strauss and other composers draw heavily on ballet and modern dance elements, as well as on the step material of waltzes and Latin ballroom dances.
The piece stars Maria Yakovleva, Kristina Starostina, and Maria Beck (as Gala) in a triple cast, and Gergő Ármin Balázsi, Louis Scrivener, and Nikolai Ragyus (as Leon), with David Coleman conducting the Opera Orchestra. The Pygmalion Effect will be staged by the Hungarian National Ballet on May 11, 14, 16, 18, 20-22, and 25, 2024, and will be performed a further 10 times between May 18 and June 1, 2024.