Music: Ivan Is Terrible

Moscow's massive Bolshoi Ballet approaches the great classics of dance—Swan Lake, for example, or Giselle—as if they were museum pieces on the move, as many of them are. The Russians' excessive awe of tradition can be a hindrance when it comes to creating new choreography. A striking case in point is Yuri Grigorovich's Ivan the Terrible, which was given its American premiere at Manhattan's Metropolitan Opera House last week by a large touring company of the Bolshoi. Grigorovich is probably the Soviet Union's finest classical choreographer, and the two-act ballet is his first...

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