By Mudassir Raja
It was a Russian treat for a cosmopolitan audience. Diplomats, local residents, businessmen and women among a wide group of dignitaries in Doha witnessed the spectacular Anna Karenina ballet show at the Qatar National Convention Centre.
The auditorium was full to its capacity as the mesmerising traditional ballet performance kept the audience captivated for two hours with riveting music, lighting effects, rhythms, dances and acting of a remarkable cast.
The Anna Karenina ballet show by the world-renowned choreographer Boris Eifman was organised for the first time in Qatar. The show was a hallmark event as part of a series of projects held in the framework of the Year of Culture Qatar-Russia 2018. It was organised in partnership with Rosneft Oil Company.
Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg brought the Anna Karenina show to the Doha audience.
Anna Karenina is a novel by Russian author Leo Tolstoy. It was first published in book form in 1878. Many authors – and Tolstoy himself – consider the novel the greatest work of literature ever written. It deals with themes of betrayal, faith, family, marriage, Imperial Russian society, desire, and rural and city life.
The plot centres around an extramarital affair between Anna and a dashing cavalry officer Count Alexei Kirillovich Vronsky that scandalises the social circles of St. Petersburg and forces the young lovers to flee for Italy in a futile search for happiness. Returning to Russia, their lives further unravel.
Boris Eifman is a Russian choreographer who has created more than fifty ballet performances. He established Eifman Ballet of St. Petersburg in 1977 as an experimental laboratory and a ballet theatre of one choreographer.
Over four decades, Boris and his unique company developed world-renowned repertoire that defined modern Russian psychological ballet theatre.
The recent performance was a testimony to performing art choreographed by the Russian master. Among many other ambassadors, Fahad bin Mohammed al-Attiyah, ambassador of Qatar to Russia, was also present to attend the performance.
Talking to Community, the ambassador shed some light on the cultural interaction with Russia and its significance on the bilateral ties.
He said: “Throughout the cultural year between Qatar and Russia, we have tried to develop comprehensive and diverse programme which is not limited to ballet, as we see tonight. The programme included sports, films, photography, visual arts, music, fashion, design, and lifestyle activities. It was really a comprehensive and diverse programme.
“We tried to have some form of spread between the events happening in Qatar and the events taking place in Russia with the aim to bring the two societies closer to each other by exposing them to different parts of their culture. This event comes within that context. We are very happy to have the world-renowned ballet here for the first time.”
Commenting on how the cultural exchanges have helped in improving the bilateral ties, the ambassador said: “I would say that it had improved the ties dramatically, especially with the technological advancement that we have today. We have actually involved the pubic in the year of culture. What I mean is that we have start-ups of small business from Qatar to Russia and that has generated a lot of public interest in both countries. I think it has led to a greater understanding, especially when Russia hosted FIFA World Cup 2018. That was very vital for us to have the year of culture in 2018.
“It [the cultural year] is a beginning. I think we should just continue on the path and go from strength to strength. I think if we understand that business, commerce, and economy are going to benefit from the cultural exchanges, then we will pay more attention to the cultural programmes.
Most people think that culture does not contribute to economic growth. I think that is a very wrong perception. We should really focus a lot on investing in cultural exchanges because it is through that greater understanding, exposure and knowledge that people will be willing to invest, engage and develop business relations. My suggestion is that we should look at culture as an instrument for improving bilateral economic relations.”
Honours and awards earned by Boris Eifman
People’s Artist of Russia (Russia, 1995)
Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 2nd (2012) class
Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (France, 1999)
Commander of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland (2003)
State Prize of the Russian Federation - 1998
Theatre Award of St. Petersburg Golden Soffit (1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2012)
Golden Mask (Theatre Union of Russia, 1996 and 1999)
Award Triumph (1996)
Prix Benois de la Danse for Best choreographer of 2005 (2006)
Order of Peace and Harmony (Russia, 1998)
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