For decades after World War II, Russian ballet was something to be glimpsed through the Iron Curtain when the Bolshoi or Kirov companies brought their full-length ballets on a rare tour, or in smaller ensembles traveling under the banner of Stars of the Bolshoi, Stars of the Kirov or the catchall Stars of the Russian Ballet. The Iron Curtain may have fallen, but contemporary economic curtains have replaced the political ones as constraints, yet Orange County Performing Arts Center has found an inside track with producer Ardani Artists to regularly bring Russian ballet companies and their stars to SoCal audiences -- and it's raised the bar several notches this time. In a week almost too full of goodies, Russia's Eifman Ballet opens Wednesday with the first of five performances of choreographer Boris Eifman's full-length Onegin, followed on Thursday by a one-night gala for which star-studded is an understatement. While dominated by stars from Russian companies, the roster includes luminaries from U.S. and European companies dancing pas de deux from the classics as well as several contemporary works, mostly from Eifman. On Friday, the programming returns to full-length ballet with four more performances of Onegin , Eifman's exploration of Russian poet Alexander Pushkin's classic Eugene Onegin.
Wed., May 20, 7:30 p.m.; May 21-22, 7:30 p.m.; May 22-23, 2 p.m., 2009