Music: Exalted Kitsch

Folk dance, by definition, is an art of the people. One of the curious achievements of Russia's Moiseyev dance company, which opened its first U.S. tour in five years at Manhattan's Metropolitan Opera House this month, is to make folk dance seem almost aristocratic in spirit. What country commoners could ever attempt, let alone master, those split-second polka whirls and partner changes, those muscle-straining priziadkas done at trip-hammer speed, those leaping, Olympic-height splits? This is dancing performable only by a gifted few—a disciplined and rhythmic elite of superbly talented athletes.

To be sure,...

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