Nation: Dance of Death

Art and life at the Met

The Berlin Ballet company had performed Firebird and the pas de deux from Don Quixote before a packed Metropolitan Opera House in New York City, and it was time for the orchestra to take a break. Helen Hagnes, 30, an attractive, blond, Canadian-born violinist told a friend that she was going to see Valery Panov, the Soviet-born choreographer and principal dancer for the Berlin Ballet, to ask him to pose for her sculptor husband, Janis Mintiks.

She never got to Panov's dressing room. Colleagues missed her when the...

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