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New York City Ballet: Jewels 2011

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New York City Ballet
(New York City Ballet Website)

Jewels 2011

Founders, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein
Founding Choreographers: George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins
Ballet Master in Chief, Peter Martins
Ballet Mistress, Rosemary Dunleavy
Children’s Ballet Master, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Fayçal Karoui
Managing Dir. Communications & Special Projects, Robert Daniels
Manager, Media Relations, Katharina Plumb
Assoc., Communications & Special Projects, Caitlin Gillette
The David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 1, 2011

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).

Guest Conductor: Tom Seligman

Jewels (1967): Choreography by George Balanchine, Scenery by Peter Harvey, Costumes by Karinska, Lighting by Mark Stanley. Balanchine was inspired by the jewelry of Claude Arpels and decided upon pieces of music that expressed the essence of each of these jewels. The NYC Ballet costume designer, Karinska, used artificial stones that exemplified each of these three jewels. Like the difference in jewels, the mood and music differ, as well. Emeralds signifies the romanticism of France. Rubies has jazzy elements that evolved from Balanchine's collaboration with Stravinsky. Diamonds is illustrative of Imperial Russia and its grandeur. Some of the 1967 Premiere featured performers were Suki Schorer, Patricia McBride, Edward Villella, Suzanne Farrell, and Jacques D'Amboise. (NYCB Notes).

Emeralds: Music by Gabriel Fauré (from Pélléas et Mélisande and Shylock), Performed by Tiler Peck, Amar Ramasar, Sara Mearns, Ask la Cour, Alina Dronova, Anthony Huxley, Ashley Laracey, and a female Corps ensemble. Every time I see this three-act abstract ballet, I, like the audience, gasp in awe at the sensational jeweled scenery, by Peter Harvey. I vividly remember Jenifer Ringer dancing the role that Sara Mearns took tonight, at that time with James Fayette as her partner. I thought they were irreplaceable, but Ms. Mearns, partnered by Ask la Cour, the second solo couple to appear, was enthralling. She was more impetuous and spirited than I remember Ms. Ringer in the role, and, with Mr. la Cour, she gripped the imagination, bringing us into that emerald green milieu, against Gabriel Fauré’s luxurious score. Ms. Mearns moves from the torso with romanticism and grace, taking her time, never rushing the beat. Mr. la Cour, who’s one of the finest male danseurs in the Company, has regal bearing, genuine chivalry, and long, sophisticated lines.

The first couple, Tiler Peck and Amar Ramasar, was the reason I changed my schedule to attend this evening’s performance. This was Mr. Ramasar’s debut, and he brought his magnificent charm and ardent vivacity, subdued in this aesthetic splendor, throughout his Emeralds appearance. He brightens the stage with dramatic rendering, and it was impossible to realize he was just Bernardo in West Side Story Suite last night. Here Mr. Ramasar shone, as did the always vibrant. Ms. Peck, like the jewels adorning the stage. Ms. Peck restrained her usual propulsion for this cultivated and burnished work. In the trio, Ashley Laracey caught my eye with sparkling gentility, while the entire ensemble was plush.

Rubies: Music by Igor Stravinsky (Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra), Piano Solo: Cameron Grant, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Gonzalo Garcia, Teresa Reichlen, and the Company. Rubies is so often performed in excerpted form, on its own, in repertory and galas, by this and other Companies, that it first feels familiar and predictable. Yet, from the moment the curtain rises, and the audience once again gasps in awe, with the scintillating reds and metallic ornamentations, the anticipation of each solo turn is contagious. We got star power in Ashley Bouder and Gonzalo Garcia, who has never danced better. They fed into each other’s precise rhythmic attacks, roaring toward each other, walking backwards, turning in place like automated tops, running with rolling arms, and spinning into the wings. Ms. Bouder’s tiny, rapid steps elicited glee from her fans, while Mr. Garcia glowed from within.

Teresa Reichlen was thankfully in her renowned solo role, lifting her long legs like trees uprooted, gazing sensually at the audience, always in eye contact. Her male assistants, who lift her legs in angular positions, holding her in balance, were Ralph Ippolito, Austin Laurent, Troy Schumacher, and Giovanni Villalobos. All four were delightful and devilish. The female ensemble added zest and zip to the Stravinsky Capriccio. Cameron Grant kept the piano solos magnetic, and the Orchestra showed its versatility, with Stravinsky’s music so contrasting to Fauré’s.

Diamonds: Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky (from Symphony No. 3 in D Major, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Tyler Angle, and the Company. The Diamonds motif uses blues in the backdrop to offset the huge crystal white diamonds and pearls, and, for a third time, the audience made known its awe. It’s wonderful to know new ballet audiences are always in attendance, experiencing exquisite ballets for the first time. That’s critical to the future of all ballet companies, not just in New York.

Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle were featured here, and they brought a sense of professional polish to the Tschaikovsky-scored third act of Jewels. Nobody commands the stage the way Ms. Whelan does, with serious serenity, intense focus, and exceptional skill. Mr. Angle, newer to the ballet, was immersed and protective as Ms. Whelan’s partner, allowing her to shine in her spotlight. There’s an exotic infusion in this segment, with subtle, urbane politesse. The excerpted Third Tschaikovsky Symphony is replete with polish and poetry. It slowly draws the viewer in, in contrast to the two earlier “jewels”. I often wish I could see Jewels with Emeralds last and Diamonds first, as Emeralds has more texture. Just once. Yet, Diamonds is the class act of the three, and is a fitting finale. Ms. Whelan brought poise and luster, while Mr. Angle brought nobility and gallantry to the moment.

In the Corps, I was drawn to Sara Adams, Gwyneth Muller, Christian Tworzyanski, Vincent Paradiso, and Daniel Applebaum. Kudos to Mr. Seligman, the Guest Conductor, to Karinska for all the incomparable costumes, to Peter Harvey for the bejeweled scenery, to Mark Stanley for nuanced lighting, and kudos to Balanchine.

Wendy Whelan and Tyler Angle in
Balanchine's "Diamonds" from Jewels
Courtesy of Paul Kolnik

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at