George Balanchine’s “Jewels” is a curious piece of ballet. First performed in 1967 in New York, Jewels consists of three acts named Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds, and is a uniquely refined and stripped-down work of dance that embraces a forward-thinking perspective while working within many of the traditions of the ballet, an inherently conservative art form.
Jewels was recently performed by the Miami City Ballet at the Kravis Center to scintillating effect. The Miami City Ballet production included a live orchestral accompaniment and a minimal set with a single backdrop, reflecting the title of each of the acts (Emeralds in green with a silky light display, Rubies in red with a lurid floral patten of illumination and Diamonds with its crystalline white-themed sparkles).
Prima Ballerina Tricia Albertson was the star of the show. Her finale with Renan Cerdeiro was a graceful display of elegance, precision and bravery. Their chemistry transcended the professional displays of grace to fill one’s imagination with thoughts of a great love affair destined for life happily ever after despite having traversed many tragedies.
But I am getting ahead of myself. The opening “Emeralds” served as a lovely entry point with its large ensemble pieces. The audience was clearly not ready for such a loving display of ballet virtuosity. I saw nary a smartphone in sight the whole evening!
Rainer Krenstetter, Simone Messmer and Jennifer Lauren each offered standout performances as they delved into this richly-played display of near austere beauty. What makes the Miami City Ballet production of Jewels special is the company’s ability to please those lovers of modern dance as much as those who come to see the traditional steps and plays, feints and balance of classical ballet.
This production is about much more than George Balanchine’s choreography. From the elegant costuming to the aforementioned streamlined set design, the evening was a delight to all who paid attention. With an interesting interlude displayed in the more colloquial styles of “Rubies”, this reviewer was left with a sense of unease, even mystery surrounding the finale.
My unease was due to a worry, a lingering concern that this production may detour into a territory not quite suited to Balanchine and something more towards Martha Graham. Once “Diamonds” unfolded however, I was left with the sense of luxury that all my worries were laid to rest and the belief that today’s ballet is in excellent hands with the Miami City Ballet.
Jewels is a work of requisite grace and exquisite beauty.