Panov Dance Ensemble Carmen Tel Aviv Opera House May 18 Renowned Russian choreographer Valery Panov's Carmen veritably rocked the Tel Aviv Opera House. Dancing their hearts out to a capacity crowd, the Ashdod-based Panov Dance Ensemble, flanked by the Jerusalem Flamenco Group, put on a stunning performance. Set to the exhilarating score of Rodion Shchedrin's Carmen Suite, interspersed with authentic Flamenco music and songs, the classic tale of the ill-fated young girl unfolded with passion and panache. Red lighting illuminated the stage, with a large triangle of light on the floor to symbolize the fateful love tryst. In the starring role, making her debut on the stage was Siberian-born ballerina Annette Birdina. Dressed in a short, bright red body suit, she captured the spirit of the fiery protagonist, her movements so tempestuous that she looked like a dancing flame. The interplay of Panov's masterful modern choreography with the throbbing, hand-clapping, foot-stomping Flamenco forays was truly inspired. Not to be overshadowed by that dramatic interpretation, Carmen was preceded by the lithe, lilting Les Sylphides. Twenty ballerinas, as lovely as one could imagine, wearing flowing white gossamer dresses and floral wreaths, accompanied by Panov's principal dancer Valery Kuklachov, gracefully leapt and fluttered across the pale blue stage to the music of Chopin. A striking contrast to the impassioned work that was to follow, it provided the audience with the best of both dance worlds. If cheers and bravos are any indication, the overall performance was a resounding success. The next show is in Or Akiva on June 19.