JEWELS (1967) is the three-part dance George Balanchine made in tribute to his early years at the Mariinsky Theater’s ballet school, where he learned techniques in mime and character and absorbed the school’s academic style. JEWELS—Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds—is also, according to Arlene Croce, “unsurpassed as a Balanchine primer, incorporating in a single evening every important article of faith to which this choreographer subscribed and a burst of heresy, too, to remind us that he willingly reversed himself on occasion.”*
The heresy was the creation—on Edward Villella, for Rubies—of a major role for a male dancer equal to his female partners. Balanchine was famously preoccupied with his ballerinas, and his danseurs were there as support—in his words, “very important as princes and attendants to the queen, but woman is the queen.”* So Rubies—set to music by Igor Stravinsky—is the anomaly, falling between the choreographer’s great showcases for his primas: Emeralds (music by Gabriel Fauré) and Diamonds (Tchaikovsky).
As the opening engagement of the 2019–2020 season of Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, the Mariinsky Ballet—accompanied by the Mariinsky Orchestra—will dance five performances of Balanchine’s JEWELS, which is titled for its gem-encrusted costumes as well as the necklace strands and diamond shapes of its choreography, an aspect best seen from the upper balcony. See link below for casting.
Thursday through Saturday, October 24, 25, and 26, at 7:30 pm.
Saturday and Sunday, October 26 and 27, at 2 pm.
Dorothy Chandler Pavilion
135 North Grand Avenue, downtown Los Angeles.
*Arlene Croce, “A Balanchine Triptych,” in Writing in the Dark, Dancing in The New Yorker (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2000), 449–456.
George Balanchine, Jewels, performed by the Mariinsky Ballet. Photographs, except above, by Natasha Razina. Above photograph by Svetlana Avvakum. Images courtesy and © the photographers, the dancers, and State Academic Mariinsky Theatre.