Now celebrating its 50th year, George Balanchine’s sparkling ballet still shines with all the brilliance of the gemstones that inspired it.
Jewels uses three gem stones as starting points to explore an array of musical and dance styles, each intimately connected to Balanchine’s own life and career.
George Balanchine’s glittering ballet Jewels was inspired by the beauty of the gem stones he saw in the New York store of jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels. He went on to make history with this, the first abstract three-act ballet, first performed in 1967 by New York City Ballet. Jewels was performed in full by The Royal Ballet for the first time in 2007, using costume designs from the original NYCB production and new set designs by Jean-Marc Puissant.
Each of the three movements draws on a different stone for its inspiration and a different composer for its sound. The French Romantic music of Fauré provides the impetus for the lyricism of ‘Emeralds’. The fire of ‘Rubies’ comes from Stravinsky and the jazz-age energy of New York. Grandeur and elegance complete the ballet in ‘Diamonds’, with the splendour of Imperial Russia and Tchaikovsky’s opulent Third Symphony. Each section salutes a different era in classical ballet’s history as well as a distinct period in Balanchine’s own life. Through it all, Balanchine displays his genius for combining music with visionary choreography.