George Balanchine’s Jewels (2005)


George Balanchine’s Jewels Storyline

This alluring, abstract ballet, a triptych in which each piece sparkles with the brilliance of a precious stone, is a lyric tribute to women and to the capital cities of the great dance schools. Couturier, painter and craftsman Christian Lacroix created the glorious costumes and sets which, together with the outstanding performances of the dancers and the sensitive musical direction of Paul Connelly, results in a celebration of sumptuous splendour.

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George Balanchine’s Jewels Movie Reviews

Aptly named, a real gem of a production

George Balanchine is a highly musical ballet director, I find his work fascinating and beautiful to watch. This Jewels production from the Paris Opera ballet is testament to that. I found this production a gem in every department. Throughout the sets(minimalist but still lovingly decorated) and costumes are just gorgeous, it has the effect of looking into a jewel box which came across beautifully. The choreography will literally leave you in a trance, which is exactly the effect needed for Emeralds, while Rubies’ razor-sharp quick-silver-like choreography ideally fits the jazzy nature of Stravinsky’s music. It’s all very French and very elegant, and I did love how the choreography in Diamonds seemed to be paying an affectionate tribute to Petipa. The music by Faure for Emeralds, Stravinsky for Rubies and Tchaikovsky for Diamonds is outstanding, especially the Faure, mainly because it evoked so much emotion from me and it was the most fitting within the dancing and such. The orchestral playing is ethereal and subtle for Emeralds, stylish and jazzy for Rubies and powerful in a hauntingly beautiful way for Diamonds, and throughout the sound is enough to transport you to another world. The piano solo in Rubies is superbly played.

The conducting is authoritative, nuanced and shapes and phrases the music very nicely. There is little, if anything, to complain about the dancing. The Corps-De-Ballet, at its largest in Diamonds dance impeccably. In the lead roles, the most captivating was Clairemarie Osta in Emeralds, sensual and petite and perfectly captures the dream-like quality shown in the music and choreography. She is supported very elegantly by Laeticia Pujol and Mathieu Ganio. Aurelie Dupont’s in Rubies dancing is phenomenal, her pirouettes especially are a source of admiration, and while she is charming she just misses that extra bit of swagger. Swagger is something that Marie Agnes Gillot, looking very glamorous, has this said, so much so she is like a refreshingly playful sexy minx. Agnes Letetsu and Jean-Guillame Bart in Diamonds are very elegant and naturally dignified, and they dance with such precision and magnetism. The Pas-De-Deux, while beautifully danced, was choreographically a little too dirge-like for my tastes, but the image of Bart kissing Letetsu’s hand and the final moments are unforgettably sweeping, in the spirit of a Petipa ballet I’d say. Overall, a gem. 10/10 very easily. Bethany Cox

His Romantically Tinged Classicism Again Proves That Balanchine Is The Champion Of Modern Choreography.

This electrifying ballet by the eminent George Balanchine is an abstract triptych, performed to compositions by, respectively, Fauré, Stravinsky, and Tchaikovsky, with the ever intriguing choreographer’s recognizable use of stage techniques permitting the emphasis of the work to be upon the matchless dancing by members from the Paris Opera Ballet, even upon consideration of designer Christian LaCroix’ essay into the medium of classical ballet costuming. Balanchine’s inspiration for Joyaux, presented here upon the stage of the delightfully ornamental Palais Garnier in Paris, before a live audience, came from showcase windows of the celebrated Manhattan jewelers, Van Cleef and Arpels, from which originated the disparate gem-based imagery created for the affair: emeralds, rubies, and diamonds. The persona of Balanchine seems to be immediate throughout. The French company is one of but six that include Joyaux within their repertories, and this performance makes it clear that the Paris Opera Ballet shall provide a touchstone for Balanchine’s dazzling invention for a good many years later than this 2005 production that features a magnificent corps, and the tightly trained Orchestre national de l’Opera de Paris beneath the skillful baton of Paul Connelly. Etoiles and other soloists from the French company sparkle as might the jewels that they depict during this ambitiously staged masterpiece that additionally benefits from the designing of Christian Lacroix that gives the ballet the character of being a brand new creation, despite its public debut in 1967 when performed by Balanchine’s New York City Ballet. An Opus Arte DVD is currently the sole video source for Joyaux. It includes a fine documentary: “George Balantine Forever”, that features interviews of several Paris Opera Ballet étoiles, and other soloists. These are supplied with optional subtitles. The entire DVD, one that provides excellent visual and sound quality, runs for greater than one and one-half hours, during which it effectively presents a superior ballet creation, one that should become a requisite inclusion for any viewer’s dance collection on film as it showcases a great deal of matchless balletic execution.