This video is part of a series from New Jersey Arts News

Russia's most famous verse-novel, Eugene Onegin, by Pushkin, may be best known in America through the opera by Tchaikovsky.

But a unique performance at Princeton University marked the first "staging" of Eugene Onegin with music by Prokofiev — interpreted through ballroom dance.

The innovative collaboration combined the forces of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra and conductor Rossen Milanov, the Princeton Glee Club, and the university's Ballroom Dance Club. Dancer and choreographer Sydney Schiff, a 2010 graduate of Princeton, played the lead role of Tatyana — a character much loved throughout Russia.

Princeton's "Onegin Project" has an intriguing background. In 2007, Princeton music professor and Prokofiev scholar Simon Morrison discovered — in the Russian State Archive of Literature and Arts in Moscow — a script for a theatrical adaptation of Pushkin's text by the Soviet playwright Krzhizhanovsky. A production had been planned for the Moscow Centennial of Pushkin's death in 1937, but was abruptly cancelled.

Subsequent to the February 9 orchestra and dance performance at Princeton's Richardson Auditorium, Krzhizhanovsky's adaptation was explored in theatrical form at the Lewis Center for the Arts in collaboration with Princeton professor of Slavic Languages and Literature Caryl Emerson.


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