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Sun Jul 16, 2017, 10:38 PM

Three Companies, Three Facets of Balanchines Jewels

'The choreographer George Balanchine was opaque about the meanings buried in his ballets. But he was a canny showman, and knew how to plant an idea when it suited him. Fifty years ago, when he was creating his evening-length work “Jewels” for New York City Ballet, he told journalists that he had been inspired by a visit to Van Cleef & Arpels and posed for pictures with ballerinas wearing gem-encrusted tiaras. And so the ballet became synonymous with a glamorous idea: the glitter of jewels.

“Jewels” was a hit from the start, a suitably grand yet plotless work to fit the ample stage of the newly built New York State (now the David H. Koch) Theater at Lincoln Center, where the company had moved three years earlier. Since then, it has been performed by almost two dozen companies around the world. In each case, its premiere has been seen as an important test of a company’s ability to sustain distilled meaning and emotion over the course of an entire evening, without the help of a story. The ballet “acts as a catalyst for maturity,” the Russian critic Maria Ratanova wrote in 2000 of the Mariinsky Ballet’s premiere the year before, “elevating the troupe to a new level of choreographic consciousness.”

For the 50th anniversary of “Jewels,” the Lincoln Center Festival has brought together a cast made up of three major international companies — the Paris Opera Ballet, New York City Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet. Each will perform one of its constituent parts: “Emeralds,” “Rubies” and “Diamonds.” (City Ballet and the Bolshoi will alternate in “Rubies” and “Diamonds.”)

This shared format highlights a subtext left unmentioned by Balanchine but much commented on since the ballet’s unveiling — the idea that each section is meant to suggest a different school of ballet: French (“Emeralds”), American (“Rubies”) and imperial Russian (“Diamonds”).'>>>


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