PHILIP GLASS scores impressively with his opera, "La Belle et La Bete" ("Beauty and the Beast"), using Jean Cocteau's 1946 classic film of the same title as the backdrop for his singers.

The black and white movie is shown without a soundtrack, while the singers, surrounded on stage by seven musicians of the Philip Glass Ensemble, lip-sync to the visually surrealistic film, which starred Jean Marais as Beast and Josette Day as Beauty. The production works so impressively that it seems like a natural, rather than a forced multimedia trick, says critic Mary Campbell.Cocteau's "La Belle et La Bete" as opera had its American premiere in early December as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival.

The composer has decided to set three Cocteau films for theater. The first was "Orphee," which Glass turned into an opera. It has been performed at the Brooklyn Academy in an imaginative, modernistic production. The third will be "Les Enfants Terribles," from which he intends to create a dance theater work.

DANCE MERRY-GO-ROUND: Roman L. Jasinski has resigned as artistic director of Tulsa Ballet Theatre, requesting that his mother, company co-founder and former Ballet Russe dancer Moscelyne Larkin, retain her position as artistic director emerita . . . John McFall, recently forced out at BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio, has been named the new artistic director of Atlanta Ballet.

Meanwhile, David Nixon has been appointed to head BalletMet. Nixon is now ballet master of the Ballett Der Deutschen Oper in Berlin, and will assume his post in Columbus in July 1995. A Canadian, Nixon first danced with the National Ballet of Canada, then with BDO. He has done a great deal of guesting in Europe, both as dancer and choreographer. His wife, noted ballerina Yoko Ichino, will accompany him to Columbus and is expected to teach in the ballet school.

Karen Scalzitti, who left Ballet West to join Boston Ballet, has joined the Indianapolis Ballet Theater as a principal dancer . . . Ogden-born Bart Cook, long a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, has become assistant artistic director of State Ballet of Missouri, located in Kansas City, where former Balanchine dancer Todd Bollender is artistic director.

- BARRY TUCKER, president of Richard Tucker Music Foundation, wanted to give silver castanets to RISE STEVENS, the mezzo-soprano, at the foundation's recent benefit concert. But Tucker, a son of the tenor Richard Tucker, who died in 1975, learned that this was easier said than done.

"I wanted the silver castanets to reflect the 80 performances of `Carmen' that she did with my father, and I wanted to engrave something on them," he said. "I called music stores everywhere and they all said, `There's no such thing, but why don't you try Stephen Weiss Music in Phil-a-del-phia.' "

Weiss told him that silver makes a sound that is too tinny. "He said, `I have beautiful black ebony castanets that would be better,"' Tucker recalled. "Then he asked who I was." When Tucker told him, Weiss offered to send the castanets as a gift in return for a photo of Richard Tucker for his mother. "He said, `My father made me grow up on Richard Tucker,' " Tucker said.

- HAVING LOST their Soviet-era privileges, dancers and musicians from Moscow's Bolshoi Theater are fighting proposed management reforms that the government hopes will restore the company's fading luster.

The Bolshoi has suffered in recent years from insufficient funding, the flight of talent abroad and internal bickering. Artistic director Yuri Grigorovich, the company's driving force for 30 years, jostles for control with theater director Vladimir Kokonin, and both are unpopular with performers.

The theater has not produced a new ballet in nearly 15 years and its 218-year-old building needs an estimated $300 million in repairs.

The Ministry of Culture has proposed overhauling theater management by setting up a board of directors and a contract hiring system. It hopes the changes will reverse a decline in the theater's quality and reputation.

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Performers, however, fear a board of directors would reduce their influence, and a contract would throw injured and older employees out on the street.

Some 500 of the theater's 1,000 performers voted last month to hold a strike to protest the reforms and demand Kokonin's ouster.

Tatyana Kuznetsova, a critic for the daily Segodnya, calls the dancers "infantile" in their expectations that the state continue to take care of them as it did in Soviet days. "Nobody's bothered explaining the contract system to them," she said.

- THE ARTS HAVE LOST: Pearl Primus, 74, in New Rochelle, N.Y. after a short illness. A noted dancer in many mediums, founded her own company, studied dance in Africa, and founded a school in New York with her husband, Percival Borde. She highlighted the 1991 convention of Dance and the Child, held at the University of Utah.

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