Musings on Balanchine’s, “Jewels”

When I was younger there was a summer replacement show on television called International Showtime. It showcased performers from all over Europe. It was the first time that I heard the European style of applause – a rhythmic controlled audience clap that held a steady beat in direct contrast to the American burst of uninhibited ovation. It was my first taste of European performance and reception.

I bring this up, as I just saw the Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema presentation of Jewels. First EMERALDbroadcast live on January 19, 2014, this repeat showing offered the work to all who wanted a second viewing, or to those whom had not seen it before. I was one of the last group. Even though it was created in 1967, I’d never seen it all those years I lived in New York, and in the ensuing years after I left; therefore, it was a real treat to see this gem of a ballet!

Consisting of three acts, each representing a different jewel– Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds – the ballet incorporated the styles of three major schools of dance: French, American and Russian. Host Katya Novikova said that these types of ballet were Balanchine’s own experience with the three cities he loved: Paris, New York and St. Petersburg.  The ballets were indeed different.

Emeralds, according to the Pathe/Bolshoi program, with its green romantic tutus represented the “nineteenth century dances of the French Romantic.”  It was lyrical and emotional, and was danced to the score of Gabriel Faure’s, Pelleas and Melisande and Shylock.

Rubies, according to the Bolshoi, incorporated the American musical style “epitomizing Balanchine’s work RUBIES2with Stravinsky.” This was danced to Igor Stravinsky’s, Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra.

The last segment, Diamonds, contained a gorgeous pas de deux, along with the corps for a delightful classic white ballet with “the grandeur of Imperial Russia.” Peter Tchaikovsky’s Symphony #3 in D Major was the music for this exquisite work.

The cast of the Bolshoi, as always, was excellent. Dancing three different styles and genres of ballet in one night was certainly a marathon; nevertheless, the effort was invisible, and the ethereal lightness of skilled dancers glimmered, leading us to another world for but a few hours.

The original production of Jewels had its premiere on April 13, 1967, and presented a DIAMOND#2stellar cast. According to NYCB’s website: https://www.nycballet.com/ballets/j/jewels.aspx some of the more famous names included:

Emeralds: Violette Verdy

Rubies:    Patricia McBride, Edward Villella

Diamonds: Suzanne Farrell, Jacques d’Amboise

What a great evening that must have been!  

I’d still love to see the NYCB Balanchine version; however, I was enchanted with the offering of The Bolshoi.  With every bravura move in this Bolshoi in Cinema production, the audience showed their appreciation of the performance by implementing that classic rhythmic European applause. And, a bravura performance it was.   Now, that I have seen Jewels, it will be a part of my viewing repertoire because of the acumen of the choreography, dancers, concept, music and wonders of this sparkling Balanchine gem of a ballet.

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Where is the original cast of Jewels now?

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Suzanne Farrell – in the original production, now has her own ballet company, and you can visit her website,or Facebook page at Suzanne Farrell Ballet. http://www.kennedy-center.org/programs/ballet/farrell/

Patricia McBride also has her own ballet company – The Charlotte Ballet – in North Carolina. She won a Kennedy Center Honor in 2104. http://charlotteballet.org

According to the Washington Post, the Kennedy Center Award recipients for dance include: George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Edward Villella, Arthur Mitchell, Jacques d’Amboise and Mikhail Baryshnikov.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/wp/2014/09/15/patricia-mcbride-kennedy-center-honoree-is-no-tragic-ballerina/

Jacques D’Amboise, an original Jewels dancer, played the carnival barker in the film version of Carousel. He also founded the National Dance Institute to educate children in schools about dance. See link: http://www.nationaldance.org/

Edward Viella continued after his dance career by creating the Miami City Ballet.   His web site is linked here as well.  http://www.villelladance.org/edward-villella/

Violette VerdyA ballerina who worked in France and the U.S, and currently teaches in Indiana. See her entry on Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violette_Verdy

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Other Trivia and Info

1) A fourth ballet, Sapphires was discussed by Balanchine, but never created.

2) Merrill Ashley was a repetiteur for the Bolshoi for this production, danced Jewels, herself, and was an NYCB dancer of note.

3) NY Times original review of the January 2014 film of Bolshoi’s Jewels

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/21/arts/dance/bolshois-balanchine-from-stage-to-screen.html?_r=0

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References

New York City Ballet website: https://www.nycballet.com/ballets/j/jewels.aspx

New York Times Review: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/21/arts/dance/bolshois-balanchine-from-stage-to-screen.html?_r=0

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Photo – Emeralds

By Mauro Cateb (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo – Rubies

By Mauro Cateb (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo – Diamonds

By Mario Sarto (Self-photographed) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

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5 thoughts on “Musings on Balanchine’s, “Jewels”

  1. Sarah

    Lovely article!

    “Jewels” is one of my favorite ballets. I saw it a year ago again performed by Pacific Northwest Ballet. It was Karla Körbes’ last performance of “Diamonds”. Exquisite and the house applause went on for a very long time.

    One of my favorite things about PNB is that they have an after show discussion about the ballet with Peter Boal; the Artistic Director. Mr. Boal performed this ballet in NYCB.

    “The ballet was staged by Elyse Borne, had been coached by five of its original 1967 lead dancers — Violette Verdy and Mimi Paul (“Emeralds”), Edward Villella (“Rubies”), Suzanne Farrell and Jacques d’Amboise (“Diamonds”). And Carla Körbes, among the world’s greatest ballerinas today, was giving her final performances of Balanchine repertory in her farewell season with Pacific Northwest.”
    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/08/arts/dance/suzanne-farrell-coaches-pacific-northwest-ballet-balanchine.html?_r=0

    It was a rich and memorable evening. Ballet tradition creates our rich history, doesn’t it? Thanks Nancy!

    Reply
    1. Nancy Lorenz Post author

      Thank you for leaving such a nice comment! It is amazing how ballets can be seen again and again and still “sparkle!” I hope you come back again to read more articles too!

      Reply
    2. Nancy Lorenz Post author

      Sarah,

      I just saw your response in the midst of others here. Thank you so much for your wonderful response!! That evening of the revival of “Jewels” sounded so exciting. I would love to have been a virtual “ballerina fly on the wall” to see and experience that night! “Jewels” is such a fabulous ballet. Thank you for the link as well! We are so lucky today that we can have access to all of these dancers from the past. I remember them all from the time that I lived in New York. To see or hear about them again now is amazing. I went by the Joyce Theater in May and saw that it is presenting much dance and getting more recognition as well! It is interesting as they had this show at the Joyce Theater. It is a smaller theater near Hudson in the Village, which is really thriving now. Thank you so much for your comments! Visit again! Nancy

      Reply
    3. Marilee

      Hi there, i read your blog ocnclioaalsy and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy so any assistance is very much appreciated.

      Reply
      1. Nancy Lorenz Post author

        Marilee,

        I think that my publisher checks for spam, and eliminates it. I never see it. You could probably “Google” it or find help through Wiki How, a site that tells you how to do many computer things step, by step.

        Reply

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