American Ballet Theatre will offer two full-length (or evening-long) ballets and a series of programs made up of shorter works during the company's engagement March 12 through 24 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.
For full-length works, you have a choice between drugs, treachery and murder in "La Bayadere" (March 19-22) and intelligence and love conquering all in "Coppelia" (March 15-17).
Most Westerners knew "La Bayadere" only from the frequently performed "Kingdom of the Shades" scene in Act II, until Natalia Makarova restaged the full-length work for ABT in 1980.
The typically convoluted plot concerns the thwarted love between Nikiya, an Indian temple dancer (or Bayadere), and the warrior Solor. Complications arise because the rajah orders Solor to marry his daughter Gamzatti, while Nikiya dies from the bite of a poisonous snake. In an opium dream, Solor visits the Kingdom of the Shades and sees Nikiya again. But at his wedding, the gods destroy the palace and bury everyone, thus allowing Solor and Nikiya to join in death. (That's the way things went in 19th-Century ballets.)