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Kirov Ballet : Kunakova In 'Swan' At Shrine

May 26, 1986|LEWIS SEGAL | Times Dance Writer

When Lubov Kunakova danced Odette-Odile opposite Evgeny Neff's familiar Siegfried Saturday in Shrine Auditorium, the final local Kirov Ballet performance of "Swan Lake" turned into something of an abstract ritual: a ballet compelling as movement design but largely passionless as drama.

All the inherent emotion seemed confined to the orchestra pit as Kunakova and Neff explored their roles in terms of formal lyricism and restrained virtuosity.

If Kunakova's foreshortened line inevitably gave her extensions less distinction than the swan-corps', her performance remained secure in technique, impeccable in style.

Unlike most Soviet dancers, however, Kunakova ends phrases exactly on the beat, not after it; this anomaly, in this company, sometimes made her seem the very model of a clockwork Swan--a dancer delivering calibrated steps almost impersonally.

Because Kunakova's Odile proved distinguishable from her Odette chiefly in terms of speed, any Siegfried might well have mistaken the former for the latter.

Siegfried might also have failed to recognize Rothbart, since Eldar Aliev sported a red beard (or goatee) in the Black Swan act that was missing in other performances on this North American tour.

"Rothbart" has always meant "red beard." Can it really have taken the Kirov 91 years to notice?

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