Like orphans about to meet their long-lost cousins from the Old Country, New Yorkers reared on Balanchine awaited the arrival of the Kirov Ballet full of vague hopes of gaining new insights into a common classical heritage. This first visit to New York in a quarter century of the artistic descendants of the company that had launched Balanchine seemed to hold out the promise of a renewal of the language that has so sadly languished in the absence of its greatest exponent.

When the much-anticipated event took place, however, we were dismayed to discover that, far from being the elegant and stylish sophisticates we had imagined, our kinsmen wore polyester suits, tucked their napkins under their chins, and slurped their soup. At a certain point it became depressingly clear that there were no revelations to be gleaned from our end, that, indeed, any possible benefits would accrue to the visitors.


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