Dance: From Leningrad with Love

The Kirov's U.S. tour offers curiosities and stylistic contrasts

From the opening curtain on, exoticism was in the air. Leningrad's Kirov Ballet, embarking on a four-city, eight-week U.S. tour, chose to lead off its engagement at Manhattan's Metropolitan Opera House last week with Le Corsaire, a full-length ballet that very few Americans have ever seen. The kind of diversion that appealed to 19th century audiences in Paris or St. Petersburg, Le Corsaire now seems a genuine novelty, and, like the Kirov itself, it signaled that something fresh and curious can still be found in the post- glasnost era of big tours and cultural exchanges.

The first tableau showed a little...

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