Jewels, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden, June 2009


This 1967 Balanchine ballet is in three parts: Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds. Mr. B originally hoped that the jewellers Van Cleef and Arpels might bankroll the ballet, and although that never happened, they did sponsor this Royal Ballet production two years ago. The staging is simple yet effective and in each part the costumes, reflecting emeralds, rubies, and diamonds, are delightful.

Emeralds is to Fauré’s incidental music for Pelléas et Mélisande. In this strange tale by Maeterlinck, Mélisande is found by a stream in a forest, like a naiad, and the green of emeralds recalls both the forest and the watery world from whence she comes. The leading couple were Tamara Rojo and Valeri Hristov, with Leanne Benjamin and Bennet Gartside as the second couple, and Deirdre Chapman, Laura Morera and Steven McRae in the pas-de-trois. They all danced extremely well, particularly Tamara Rojo, Leanne Benjamin and Steven McRae, as did the supporting artists, and this was a wonderful start to the evening.

Rubies is to Stravinsky’s Capriccio for piano and orchestra. The racy choreography involves a pas-de-deux for a central couple, in this case Alexandra Ansanelli and Carlos Acosta, who were full of vivacity, looking as if they were really enjoying themselves. They are complemented by another woman, in this case Laura McCulloch, who plays a temptress role, and she and the lead couple take it in turns to accompany the supporting dancers. Again the ensemble work was excellent.

Diamonds is to music from Tchaikovsky’s Symphony 3, which was his last composition before starting work on Swan Lake, and the ballerina is like a diamond in glacial splendour, a precursor to the cold beauty of Odette in Swan Lake. The principal couple, Alina Cojocaru and Rupert Pennefather were brilliant. He danced like a god, with great precision and a lovely line, and she was simply delightful. They were attended by: Yuhui Choe, Hikaru Kobayashi, Helen Crawford and Emma Maguire, as the four soloists, whose dancing was a delight to watch, as they inter-weaved with one another on stage. Again the ensemble work of the other dancers was superb, and this was altogether a terrific evening with a wonderful cast. Valeriy Ovsyanikov conducted with great brio and precision.

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