[ ACT ONE ]
Revolutionary Petrograd. In the ballet school of the former imperial theatre, a lesson of classical dance is in progress. Severe and perfect dance plus a slightly mysterious aura - such is its ideal of beauty.
A brilliant and gilt-decorated auditorium. The Ballerina’s performance arouses rapturous applause. Among her admirers is a representative of the new authorities, member of the Cheka. It is not just her fine dancing that attracts him to the Ballerina. The Chekist’s coarse pressure and his powerful embraces overcome the Ballerina’s will power.
The Chekist introduces the Ballerina to his world which is unknown to her. Here the wild revelry of the revolutionary crowd is transformed into a crazy festival of annihilation. And she, herself, hold sway at this festival, forgetting for a brief moment the behests of her Teacher. However the spiritual values instilled in her by the Teacher are stronger than the drug of destruction. The Ballerina returns to ballet school and to her Teacher.
A new power holds sway within the walls of the theatre: cruel and aggressive, it crushes all obstacles in its path. The white Ballerinas must be the obedient instrument of the red ideology. The Teacher is in despair. What is happening is unbearable, but he is unable to do anything about it.
The Ballerina and the Chekist are linked by a complex relationship. Here there is both attraction and non-acceptance, passion and non-understanding. The Chekist permits the Ballerina to join the emigres who are leaving Russia for good.
[ ACT TWO ]
A ballet class at the Grand Opera in Paris. A famous dancer and choreographer is taking the rehearsal. The dancing technique is unfamiliar to the Ballerina, but she recognizes the inspired talent of a creator. The dancer becomes her Partner: they are both to have a triumphant success.
The Ballerina’s growing infatuation with her Partner is not reciprocated. This unrequited love, her feeling of loneliness in a world that is alien to her have an increasingly negative affect on her mental state which shows signs of cracking-up. The Ballerina attempts to find distraction in gay Paris. But even here she is haunted by the specters of the past. The red reflections of the Revolution give her no peace. The Chekist appears to her in a nightmarish hallucination.
Even her favorite role of Giselle in which the Ballerina always moved her audience and for which interpretation she won world fame, did not bring her peace of mind. Giselle’s fate lay in store for her -she herself repeated it: the betrayal of her loved one, madness. Mirrors refract the great ballerina’s sick mind. And madness is seen as salvation, as a departure into the flickering world of’ the other side of the mirror.