George Balanchine's ballet Jewels, created in 1967, was publicised as the first ever three-act abstract ballet. In fact it really consists of three separate ballets - Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds, each with the appropriate colour scheme for the jewel of the title and in a different choreographic style. Rubies has been performed separately by a number of compaines, including the Royal Ballet; they first performed the full version in 1989 and have revived it in the current season.

Although each ballet is attractive, with no narrative structure the evening is a bit like a three-courses dinner consisting entirely of low-calorie desserts. The first, Emeralds, to some of Fauré's less interesting music, is mostly adagio and consists of graceful arabesques in classical style. Though very well performed by Roberta Marquez, Valeri Hristov, Leanne Benjamin and Bennet Gartside there is little variation of style throughout and at thirty minutes seems overly long.

Rubies, set to Stravinsky's lively Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, is more entertaining (and shorter at 21 minutes): the choreography is angular and witty (though in the end becoming a little repetitive) and Alexandra Ansanelli, Carlos Acosta and LauraMcCulloch gave every impression of enjoying themselves. This is the most effective of the three sections.

The final ballet, Diamonds, is set to Tchaikovsky's Third Symphony - a slightly odd choice as it is much weaker than the better-known second, fourth, fifth and sixth, and relies far too much on repeated phrases to build up tension (shades of Bruckner here, in technique though not style). Though it's the longest of the three ballets, the graceful choreography stands up well: in particular the extended pas de deux in the slow movement was danced by Alina Cojocaru and Rupert Pennefather with masterly fluidity and control. The whole evening makes for an attractive experience, but I'm not sure I could be bothered to see it again in the future.

Posted: Wed - June 17, 2009 at 09:26 AM by Roger Wilmut          



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Published On: Mar 11, 2016 05:00 PM