Russia’s most innovative dance company returns to the Auditorium Theatre following the triumph of 2017’s Red Giselle, named one of the best dance performances of the year by the Chicago Tribune. The company gives the North American premiere to Boris Eifman’s The Pygmalion Effect, a new re-envisioning of the classic Greek myth. Set to music by Johann Strauss, Eifman’s ballet follows a passionate ballroom dancer who crafts a young woman into a brilliant dancer. Eifman — known for his “Russian psychological ballet theatre” and choreography that is “big on tumultuous narrative and passionately seething characters” (Los Angeles Times) — and his dancers have been called “among the most fascinating artists before the public today” (San Francisco Chronicle).
The Pygmalion Effect is presented in two acts.
Gala, the dweller of city outskirts, calls on tourists to enjoy the ride in a carriage driven by her father, Holmes.
Leon, superstar of ballroom dancing, welcomes the arrival of a new day in his luxurious home surrounded by maids under supervision of stern Greta.
Gala is full of admiration as she watches the ballroom dancing tournament. Leon and his partner Tea are the favorites but, sadly, a mistake costs them the victory.
Gala rescues Leon from mobsters and makes it into the house of the public’s darling. Holmes, who also gets inside, tries to earn off his daughter. Gala develops affection for Leon; a dream of becoming a dancer is kindled within her.
In his dream Holmes is visited by a messenger of the Heaven, who keeps him away from the favored pursuits – women and drink.
Gala’s appearance in the dance class causes general confusion. Leon makes a bet with the Coach – he will transform this gawky girl into a star.
Gala’s training commences. Her body, used to rough movement, resists unfamiliar plasticity. The maids kick Gala out of the house.
Holmes alternates between going rogue and preaching sobriety and chastity.
Leon locates Gala and paints a picture of her future triumph.
Torturous rehearsals are not working. The only solution is to apply a modern gadget which turns Gala into a mechanical dancing doll.
Tea steals the partner from one of the competing female dancers. Leon brings Gala into the dance class. Everyone is amazed by her transformation and congratulates the tutor while ignoring the pupil. The girl is furious.
The support and attention of the Coach help Gala achieve recognition among dancers.
Gala and Leon make up and win the tournament, but separation is inevitable. Leon cannot forget about or accept his partner’s past. Slum dwellers pay tribute to their queen. But Gala can only think about Leon, with whom she is destined to be joined together only in her reverie...