Kitty arrives at the ball, beautifully dressed in pink and bedecked with roses and a black velvet ribbon. Vronsky dances the first dance with her. Anna arrives in a low-cut black velvet dress, and even though Kitty had imagined her in lilac, Kitty realizes that Anna’s loveliness relies on standing out from what she wears, not standing out because of a bold color.
Kitty and Anna are contrasted by their ball dresses: while Kitty is youthful and pretty in her rose-colored attire, Anna stands out from the crowd not because of what she wears but due to her internal passion and fire.
An officer asks Anna to dance, and she initially refuses. Vronsky approaches and bows to her, but Anna does not respond to the bow, turning to the other officer and dancing with him instead. Kitty is puzzled. As Vronsky and Kitty prepare to waltz, Kitty looks lovingly at him, but he does not respond to her gaze.
Anna dances with the other officer to make Vronsky jealous, rebuffing Vronsky’s advances. Anna plays the game to perfection. The earnest Kitty, meanwhile, looks with all her heart at Vronsky, but he does not return the glance, indicating that he does not love her as she loves him.