DANCE

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - JOY SABLE Jewels

Royal Opera House

JEWELS IS a tril­ogy of one­act bal­lets, cre­ated in 1967 for the New York City Bal­let by its founder and chief chore­og­ra­pher, Ge­orge Balan­chine. The three pieces — Emer­alds, Ru­bies and Di­a­monds — are com­plete in them­selves and can be per­formed sep­a­rately, so it is a real treat to see the bal­let as a whole danced on the Covent Gar­den stage.

Where once Balan­chine’s style — all an­gles, speed and pre­ci­sion — was some­what alien to our home-grown dancers, now the Royal Bal­let is made up of such a di­verse group of in­ter­na­tion­ally trained per­form­ers that tack­ling some­thing so dif­fer­ent to the English (and for that, read “Ash­ton”) style holds no fears.

Jewels is said to have been in­spired by a visit by Balan­chine to the New York jew­ellers Van Cleef & Ar­pels, but he later stated the bal­let had noth­ing to do with jewels, the dancers are just dressed as gems. And how glo­ri­ous the cos­tumes are! The evening be­gins with Emer­alds, the women dressed in float­ing, long, green tu­tus in the ro­man­tic style, ideal for in­ter­pret­ing Faure’s lush mu­sic. In this piece, Yuhui Choe and Va­leri Hris­tov are the Alexan­der Camp­bell, Ry­oichi Hi­rano and Ed­ward Wat­son in

cen­tral cou­ple, coolly el­e­gant and re­mote. Francesca Hay­ward is a heart win­ner with her play­ful, light solo — what a gem of a dancer she is.

Ru­bies, in con­trast, is set to a jazzy score by Stravin­sky. It is, per­haps, Balan­chine at his most fa­mil­iar — pelvic thrusts and jut­ting hips, ex­treme ex­ten­sions and sharp foot­work. The women in this sassy, sexy piece are dressed in ruby-coloured leo­tards with fringed, short skirts (which au­di­bly rat­tle be­cause of the gems at­tached to them); the men are sim­i­larly clothed in red tu­nics. Ma­yara Ma­gri and Marcelino Sambe shine in the cen­tral pas de deux. Here is Broad­way glam­our and real New York glitz. Sambe makes light work of his jumps and turns, spin­ning off into the wings with in­cred­i­ble speed, draw­ing, when I was there, a gasp of de­light from the au­di­ence. Gina Storm-Jensen puts in a strong per­for­mance, but there is no need for her to grin her way through the dances — Balan­chine al­ways let the steps do the talk­ing.

Tchaikovsky’s Sym­phony No. 3 in D is used for the fi­nal piece of the evening, Di­a­monds. Here Balan­chine pays trib­ute to his Rus­sian her­itage, with a piece of stun­ning beauty. This sec­tion uses the largest num­ber of dancers, clad in white, with sparkling gem­stones set­ting off the clas­si­cal tu­tus. Watch care­fully and you can see the ref­er­ences to the great clas­sics in the in­tri­cate chore­og­ra­phy: arms and wrists echo­ing the white act of Swan Lake, or Ray­monda, the corps pat­terns sug­gest Sleep­ing Beauty.

Sarah Lamb dom­i­nates the stage in the lead bal­le­rina role, her bal­ances steady, her beau­ti­ful legs in lovely arabesques, with steady part­ner­ing from Ry­oichi Hi­rano. The corps dances mag­nif­i­cently, bring­ing the evening to a lit­er­ally glit­ter­ing close.

The Royal Bal­let’s ‘Jewels’ is at the Royal Opera House un­til 21 April. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion visit roh.org.uk

PHOTO: ROH, BILL COOPER

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