Robert Tanitch reviews Rodin at London Coliseum.
The prolific Russian choreographer Boris Eifman’s psychological two-act ballet, Rodin, is about the life and work of the great French sculptor, Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), and his disciple, mistress and muse, Camille Claude (1864-1943), a sculptress in her own right who was never given the recognition and commissions she deserved.
Camille went mad and spent the last 30 years of her life in a mental clinic. There is also Rodin’s relationship with his other mistress, Rose Beuret, the mother of his son.
The ballet, performed to bits and pieces of music from Ravel, Saint-Saens and Massenet, records the passion, hatred, artistic jealousy and despair of the trio.
Oleg Gabyshev is Rodin, Lyubov Andreyeva is Camille and Yulia Manjeles is Rose. All three dancers have strong presences.
Eifman is at its best and most interesting, however, when he is showing Rodin at work and we are able to watch marble and stone, as it were, being turned into living sculpture with body movements.
Famous sculptures – such as The Eternal Idol, The Crouching Woman and The Burghers of Calais – are created on a turntable. These images, particularly the last, are striking.
The image of the torment and agony expressed in The Gates of Hell, which is here reproduced on a vertical scaffold, with the dancers seemingly falling from a great height, is no less striking.
There are also scenes, such as the wine-harvesting and the can-can, which are danced with great vigour by the corps, but which are so totally superfluous to the drama you wonder why they are there.