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New York City Ballet: Jewels 2008

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New York City Ballet
Jewels 2008
(NYC Ballet Website)

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 Mistress, Garielle Whittle
Orchestra, Music Director, Fayçal Karoui
Managing Director, Communications, Robert Daniels
Assoc. Director, Communications, Siobhan Burns
Manager, Press Relations, Joe Guttridge
New York State Theater, Lincoln Center

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
June 7, 2008

(Read More NYC Ballet Reviews).
Conductor: Maurice Kaplow

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 Rachel Rutherford, Stephen Hanna, Sara Mearns, Jonathan Stafford, Alina Dronova, Sean Suozzi, Ana Sophia Scheller, and the Company. There is no City Ballet season that’s complete without a few performances of Balanchine’s three-act Jewels. In tonight’s performance, Sara Mearns, partnered by Jonathan Stafford, was mesmerizing and impassioned, in contrast to Rachel Rutherford, partnered by Stephen Hanna, who was more restrained, but with elegant stillness. The music drives the soul, and this opening act dazzles, with bright green and diamond scenery that flows from the rafters and rivets the eye.

Among the soloists and corps, Ana Sophia Scheller transported the viewer to the serene, onstage paradise, as did Kathryn Morgan and Briana Shepherd. Alina Dronova and Sean Suozzi seemed more rigid and a bit off-balance. The Gabriel Fauré score envelops the dancers with serene tranquility.

Rubies: Music by Igor Stravinsky (Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra), Piano Solo: Susan Walters, Performed by Ashley Bouder, Joaquin De Luz, Teresa Reichlen, and the Company. Rubies, unlike Emeralds and Diamonds, has a vividly contemporary quality, with sensuality that sears the imagination and propulsive jumps, leg lifts, and instantaneous spins. Teresa Reichlen remains the star of this second act ballet, whether it appears in the full-length Jewels program or in an eclectic Retirement (will be performed on June 18 in Damian Woetzel’s Farewell). She magnetizes the audience’s mood and creates scintillating imagery, thanks to her long, powerful limbs and her coy, confident manner. At one point, the male dancers, in velvet and brocade, ruby-colored costumes, manipulate her leg at varying levels.

Ashley Bouder and Joaquin De Luz were lead dancers, appearing and re-appearing, with angular wrists and ankles, Balanchine’s signature running steps, and comfortable chemistry. They anticipate each other’s next step and feed off each other’s energy with sly sprightliness. Among the soloists and corps, Giovanni Villalobos, Georgina Pazcoguin, and Erica Pereira most galvanized this vivacious rendition of the Stravinsky centerpiece. The scenery and costumes could not be more stylized or stunning.

Diamonds: Music by Peter Ilyitch Tschaikovsky (from Symphony No. 3 in D Major, Performed by Wendy Whelan, Philip Neal, and the Company. Wendy Whelan and Philip Neal have perfected this Jewels third act that evokes regality, elegance, and class. Ms. Whelan’s focused and fluid lines merged mellifluously with those of Philip Neal, as he attentively and adroitly partnered her beneath the glittering diamond scenery that flows from the rafters. My favorite motif is the flying imagery of Ms. Whelan’s arms, as she is carried aloft by Mr. Neal to the airs of Tschaikovsky. Diamonds evokes the balletic paintings of Degas, all white and fluffy with a bit of silver and blue. Among the corps, Gwyneth Muller, Kaitlyn Gilliland, Devin Alberda, and Briana Shepherd were most persuasive.

Kudos to George Balanchine.

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