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MUSIC AND DANCE REVIEWS

Illness Revises Cast for Bolshoi's 'Sylphide'

November 02, 1996|LEWIS SEGAL LEWIS SEGAL | TIMES DANCE CRITIC

The illness of ballerina Galina Stepanenko caused major changes in the casting of the Bolshoi Ballet "La Sylphide" in Shrine Auditorium on Wednesday--and, for once during the eight-performance engagement, an announcement kept the audience informed.

Back in the title role: the previously reviewed Nadezhda Grachova. Opposite her, a new James: 23-year-old Dmitri Belogolovtsev, scheduled to dance the part the following night.

Belogolovtsev displayed a fine jump and worked at the acting challenges more conscientiously than did his predecessor, though, again, the high-Romantic yearning that propels James to disaster never fully emerged.

Moreover, Belogolovtsev's mastery of the rapid, intricate leg-beats essential to the choreography proved fitful and declined to mere approximation in the most grueling passages of the second act.

As Madge, Svetlana Tigleva used humor to mask the character's evil intentions, convincing everyone except James that she was merely an eccentric, fortunetelling crone--until the time came for dire deeds. The mime flummoxed her and nearly all the principals on Tuesday and Wednesday (it's not just generalized character gesture but word-images).

Of course, Madge needed the weight and authority befitting an embodiment of nature's darkest forces: something Tigleva tried to suggest only as the final curtain descended.

If Belogolovtsev's performance on Wednesday failed because of insufficient skill, Tigleva's represented something worse: a failure of imagination.

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