About the only thing Valery Panov didn't borrow from silent movies for his mammoth ballet version of "The Idiot" were those placards that flashed on the screen explaining plot complications that couldn't easily be described without words. A few such hints. ("Rogozhin has just strangled Nastasya," for example) would aide immensely in clearing up some of the fuzzy spots that obscure this danced telling of Dostoyevsky's complex novel that the Berlin Ballet again presented at Kennedy Center's Opera House last evening.
As on opening night, Panov himself danced the role of the evil Rogozhin with uninhibited power and Galina Panova repeated her portrayal of the luckless Aglaja. Two newcomers in the other leading roles provided interpretations that differed greatly from those offered at the previous performance.
Opening night, Rudolf Nureyev played the hero, Prince Myshkin, as a childlike, saintly man; a trusting innocent, oblivious to evil.Last night, Vladimir Gelvan was more knowing, sadly aware that, socially awkward and ill, he was a misfit. Gelvan's dancing was beautifully clear and expressive, his leaps high and smooth, his partnering, particularly in the Act III pas de deux with Allaja, superb. For the most part, his interpretation worked, but in a scene in which Myshkin joins children in a simple dance, Gelvan seemed merely a kindly man, where Nureyev had make it clear that here was the only place where Myshkin truly belonged; and although Gelvan twisted and swung like a horribly tortured being on the bell-rope in the ballet's closing scene, Nureyev had been a jagged, ruptured nerve.
As Nastasya, the object of the heroes' affections, Heidrun Schwaarz was appropriately wanton, but lacked Eva Evdokimova's undelying innocence. Although Schwaarz was a perfect match for Rogozhin, she lacked the hidden purity that made Myshkin want to save her. As Ganya, the weakling clerk, Igor Kosak showed a strong technique in his brief solo, and his subtle acting made the most of a peripheral role.