Russian dance master awarded Order for the Merit to the Fatherland as his company debuts in Melbourne.

As the curtain rises on his dance troupe’s Melbourne premiere, Boris Eifman will be receiving the Order for the Merit to the Fatherland from Russian president Vladimir Putin, for outstanding contributions to his state.

The St Petersburg-based choreographer had to cut short his Australian tour to fly back to Russia on Monday night, after receiving word from Putin’s office that the prestigious award had been conferred on him.

The 40-strong Eifman Ballet will be giving the premiere of his Anna Kareninaon August 29, at the same time he accepts his new title during a ceremony at the Kremlin. The award, regarded as Russia’s highest honour, is bestowed on both civilian and military recipients for outstanding achievements in various fields of industry. Eifman will be the first choreographer to receive the award at the second tier having received the third level of the award previously.

Eifman founded his ballet company 35 years ago, exploring themes – homosexuality and mental illness among them – that were considered taboo in Soviet Russia. It was not until Gorbachev’s Glasnost policy of relaxed censorship came into effect in the 1980s...

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