"Follow the letters." That was choreographer David Nixon's advice in the pre-performance talk for his "Dangerous Liaisons."

"Follow the letters." That was choreographer David Nixon's advice in the pre-performance talk for his "Dangerous Liaisons."

Based on the 1782 epistolary novel "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos and its modern stage and screen adaptations, the ballet features letters being traded by the characters. And Nixon is right. Watching who writes to whom and how they react helps clarify the plot.

But then Nixon has always been a master at conveying story through movement, and rarely more so than in "Liaisons." BalletMet premiered the revised full-length version of Nixon's ballet in May 1996, when he was its artistic director. Now a decade after leaving BalletMet for Britain's Northern Ballet, Nixon has revised "Liaisons" again, jettisoning the narration and tightening the work.

As in 1996, Jimmy Orrante is Vicomte de Valmont (casts vary). He plots seductions and betrayals with Annie Mallonee's Marquise de Merteuil. Co-conspirators with fewer scruples would be difficult to find, and the two dancers revel in the evil.

"Liaisons" brims with duets in which Nixon defines characters and their relationships by how they move together: who possesses the power, who is being manipulated, who loves truly, who feigns it.

Take two scenes in Act Two, after Valmont has fallen hard for Madame de Tourvel (Adrienne Benz). When they love, he tosses her over his shoulder and curls her around under his arm into a position to kiss her. When later he must spurn her, he repeatedly tosses her away, refusing even to partner her - it's as distant and cold as the earlier scene was sensuous and warm.

BalletMet's performance makes "Dangerous Liaisons" worth writing home about.