In its first U.S. engagement in 22 years, the Kirov Ballet of Leningrad will dance the full-length "Swan Lake" and a program of highlights in Shrine Auditorium from May 21 to 26.
The company also will perform in Philadelphia (May 28-31) and at Wolf Trap Farm Park outside Washington (June 2-5) on a tour that the White House announced Thursday as a direct outgrowth of the cultural exchange agreement signed during the U.S.-Soviet summit in Geneva last November.
Presidential spokesman Larry Speakes told reporters that the first American performer to visit the Soviet Union under the agreement would be Vladimir Horowitz, who will return to his native country next month for the first time in 61 years. That part of the exchange was worked out earlier this year, Speakes said.
Sponsored by the Ambassador Foundation, in association with Great Artists Management Inc. and ICM Artists, the Kirov's Los Angeles performances will take place in Shrine Auditorium because of the size of the stage, according to Wayne Shilkret, Ambassador Foundation director of performing arts.
Shilkret worked as a publicity associate for the S. Hurok organization on the '64 Kirov tour and said "to me, this was the greatest ballet company in the world. When I approached the foundation with the prospect of presenting the Kirov, Vice President Ellis LaRavia said that the foundation would also be delighted to participate in the cultural exchange process which promotes peace."
The Kirov is bringing a contingent of more than 150 to North America, including principal players of the company orchestra (to be augmented by local musicians) and more than 90 dancers, Shilkret said.
Founded more than 200 years ago at the Maryinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg (now Leningrad), the company that has been known since 1935 as the Kirov Ballet is considered the touchstone of Russian classicism. Marius Petipa created such classics as "Raymonda" and "The Sleeping Beauty" for the company and Lev Ivanov collaborated with him on "Swan Lake."
In our century, such stars as Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky left the company to establish a new standard of ballet artistry in the West and, more recently, Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov brought from the Kirov a style and a repertory that has helped reshape the concept of classical dancing.
The Kirov had been scheduled for some months to visit Canada from May 14-19 as part of Expo '86 in Vancouver, B.C. Besides "Swan Lake," the company has programmed for Canada a ballet not to be included on the U.S. tour: "The Knight in the Tiger's Skin," choreographed by artistic director Oleg Vinogradov. Following its U.S. tour dates, the Kirov will return to Canada for performances in Montreal (June 6-8) and Ottawa (June 11-14).
Associated Press sources said that following the signing of the cultural exchange agreement by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev at the close of the Geneva summit, U.S. negotiators proposed that the Soviets extend the Kirov tour to include the United States.
The six-performance Los Angeles engagement will begin with "Swan Lake" (May 21 and 22 at 8 p.m., May 23 at 2 p.m. and May 24, at 8:30 p.m.). The highlights program is scheduled for May 25 and 26, at 8 p.m. Tickets, ranging from $10 to $40, will be available by mail only.
Ballets on the highlights program and principal dancers on the tour will be announced shortly. For information, call (818) 304-6166.