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At the Opera House

By Stephen O. Saxe

The vernal equinox can be taken as an infallible sign of the approach of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo to Boston. Through the years the group has almost earned honorary custody of several ballet standbys. Three of these--"Swan Lake," "The Nutcracker," and "Scheherazade" --have been placed on one program which will be repeated two or three times during the group's Boston stand.

The Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo continues to perform these stock items in excellent style. Here and there, throughout the evening, one may become aware of stiffness in a leading dancer or faulty timing by someone in an ensemble, but above these imperfections there is always the enjoyment of beautiful ballet, tastefully and skillfully performed.

The abstract grace of "Swan Lake" requires faultless dancing to be truly successful. Its movements are classically simple, and the chaste costumes and Tschaikowsky's subdued music offer little distraction. Alexandra Danilova, as the swan queen, unfortunately, lacks some of the effortless, completely-controlled action that is demanded of her. Mlle. Danilova's dancer, Frederic Franklin, is also occasionally ungainly. The corps de ballet proves to be technically capable, although not distinguished.

A ballet more suited to this group is "The Nutcracker." Formal rigidity is not stressed in most of this work; animation and perhaps "prettiness" takes its place. In the part of the Snow Queen, Ruthanna Boris shows herself in many ways superior to Mlle. Danilova. She is more proficient technically, and far less tense. It is evident that she feels what she is dancing, not merely performing what she has learned. Leon Danielian, the Prince, dances with a great deal of case and sureness. Robert Lindgen, although in the subordinate role of Trepak, deserves praise for his crisp performance.

"Scheherazade" is a colorful and agitated ensemble work that does not stress the individual dancer so much as the group's effect. Here the corps de ballet shows its special profficiency; for in "Scheherazade" the spectacle of the whirling, sensual dance is important, not stylistic perfection. In this dance the orchestra is missing much of the turbulence called for by Rimsky-Korsakov's score. In this respect the musicians mirror the essential weakness of the entire company; after many years on the road it is difficult to muster the great enthusiasm first class ballet requires. Nevertheless, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo continues to provide good ballet, and that is high commendation in itself.

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