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Emeralds, Rubies and DiamondsThe Music of Jewels


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#1 Eileen

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Posted 02 October 2011 - 04:24 PM

Sat in First Ring, center row A to see Jewels this afternoon, and it was simply beautiful.

Luckily, I have Robert Irving's CD (Balanchine Album with all the correct tempi) including Emeralds, the Faure pieces. The curtain opens with Pelleas and Melisande in a forest glade. A couple - Abi Stafford and Jared Angle begin the first pas de deux. Throughout, Abi Stafford was certainly adequate to the technique and the dance, but she never came alive for me as a personality. She remained a generic dancer. Not so Jenny Ringer, who has a spirit that cuts through the dance and projects to the audience. Perhaps this spirit is called kindness. She danced the Sicilienne with grace and beauty, within and without. Jonathan Stafford was replaced by a courtly Ask la Cour.

A shift of mood as the trio enters to the music from Shylock; they are Erica Pereira, Antonio Carmena, and Ana Sophyia Scheller. They were beyond perfection, at least to my non-connoisseur eyes.

Rubies, the "wild child" of Jewels, as Sterling Hyltin put it on the video, was delightful. Tess Reichlen is perfectly cast as the central figure. Her impassivity is to good effect in Rubies, unlike in Swan Lake where I missed the emotional expressiveness needed in both white and black roles. Tess Reichlen's temperament, or lack of temperament, is perfect for Stravinsky ballets, or Four Temperaments (Hindemith). Her legs are endless, and she possesses an inner authority that radiates outward. Meg Fairchild and Joaquin de Luz were delightful. (I have no recording of Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, unfortunately.)

Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 3, Polish, and its waltz rhythms summon visually the choreography of Diamonds. The music demonstrates Balanchine's genius in creating precisely the formations and number of dancers needed - no more, no less - to bring Tchaikovsky to life.

We were all awaiting the endlessly elongated entrance of Maria and Charles, from opposite corners of the stage, to the andante elegiaco. They are an exquisite couple. Charles Askegard's solos were much clearer with more force than I've seen previously, and Maria Kowroski is consummate mistress of this material. Her shapes and extensions are breathtaking. I didn't know she was 5'9". (This makes me wonder if Ask la Cour will be promoted so she will have a partner.)

The 8 demi-soloists perform a Russian-type dance to the scherzo:allegro vivo - they are too many to name, but Christian Tworzyanski was a leader of the corps and one of the group of 8.

In the last movement, allegro con fuoco, the dancers enter in processional led by Tworzyanski (his partner was?) who is becoming increasingly prominent. If la Cour becomes a principal for Maria, will Tworzyanski become soloist? I can't resist these speculations, as you see. The logic of Tchaikovsky's third symphony (minus the first movement) is reflected in the Balanchine's logical patterns of the corps. I am inadequate to describe the formations he created, that can be viewed effectively only from the first row of first ring of the Theater Formerly Known as State. When we reach the fugue - you actually see the fugue come alive as rows of dancers successively awaken from pose to movement. The journey, as Sara Mearns terms it, is reaching its climax, as the entire corps, the demi-soloists, and finally the star couple, take their places on the stage and the music reprises the processional theme that opened the movement. The company execute identical steps, as if this music were an anthem, the company's and Balanchine's. In moments, it was over.

We burst into spontaneous applause of gratitude - three front of curtain calls for Maria and Charles, who got down on his knee, one leg extended, in elaborate homage to Maria. She returned the favor in a later curtain call. If you heard the Tchaikovsky score being sung as you left the first ring, well, that was me, humming the hits.

On October 9 at noon there will be a seminar called Imperial Jewels, only $15, in the Theater Formerly Known as State. "NYCB and SAB collaborate to explore Balanchine's special connection to Tchaikovsky's music. This presentation will compare and contrast traditional Russian ballet style with Balanchine's stylistic refinements." I'll be there, and will report back.

#2 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 01:09 AM

I have also long appreciated the fine line and superb energy, musicality and ultimate respect for the music and choreography of Christian Tworzyanski. Unfortunately, I believe that he has been in the corps for too long -- since 2003 -- to be promoted. I would love to be proven wrong on that. There have been some superb dancers who have spent a long career in the corps, and been happy doing it. There was a seminar many years ago (early 1990's I believe) of corps men. One of them, Peter Naumann, who may have been there the longest, specifically said that it was his preference to perform as a corps member, and he, like Christian, had it ALL -- and I think he may have been taller. So, you never know.

#3 Eileen

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 07:02 AM

I have also long appreciated the fine line and superb energy, musicality and ultimate respect for the music and choreography of Christian Tworzyanski. Unfortunately, I believe that he has been in the corps for too long -- since 2003 -- to be promoted. I would love to be proven wrong on that. There have been some superb dancers who have spent a long career in the corps, and been happy doing it. There was a seminar many years ago (early 1990's I believe) of corps men. One of them, Peter Naumann, who may have been there the longest, specifically said that it was his preference to perform as a corps member, and he, like Christian, had it ALL -- and I think he may have been taller. So, you never know.


Are there any other dancers who have been promoted after 8 years in the corps? I assume if someone is a standout, he/she will be promoted quickly, after a few years at most. Is 8 years in the corps fatal to promotion? That if he were going to make it, he would have made it by now? Sometimes dancers mature later. Hope you're wrong.

#4 Ray

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 08:20 AM


I have also long appreciated the fine line and superb energy, musicality and ultimate respect for the music and choreography of Christian Tworzyanski. Unfortunately, I believe that he has been in the corps for too long -- since 2003 -- to be promoted. I would love to be proven wrong on that. There have been some superb dancers who have spent a long career in the corps, and been happy doing it. There was a seminar many years ago (early 1990's I believe) of corps men. One of them, Peter Naumann, who may have been there the longest, specifically said that it was his preference to perform as a corps member, and he, like Christian, had it ALL -- and I think he may have been taller. So, you never know.


Are there any other dancers who have been promoted after 8 years in the corps? I assume if someone is a standout, he/she will be promoted quickly, after a few years at most. Is 8 years in the corps fatal to promotion? That if he were going to make it, he would have made it by now? Sometimes dancers mature later. Hope you're wrong.


Wasn't Merrill Ashley in the corps for a long time? Or was she stuck in soloist "limbo"? I can't remember...

#5 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 09:06 AM



I have also long appreciated the fine line and superb energy, musicality and ultimate respect for the music and choreography of Christian Tworzyanski. Unfortunately, I believe that he has been in the corps for too long -- since 2003 -- to be promoted. I would love to be proven wrong on that. There have been some superb dancers who have spent a long career in the corps, and been happy doing it. There was a seminar many years ago (early 1990's I believe) of corps men. One of them, Peter Naumann, who may have been there the longest, specifically said that it was his preference to perform as a corps member, and he, like Christian, had it ALL -- and I think he may have been taller. So, you never know.


Are there any other dancers who have been promoted after 8 years in the corps? I assume if someone is a standout, he/she will be promoted quickly, after a few years at most. Is 8 years in the corps fatal to promotion? That if he were going to make it, he would have made it by now? Sometimes dancers mature later. Hope you're wrong.


Wasn't Merrill Ashley in the corps for a long time? Or was she stuck in soloist "limbo"? I can't remember...


I think Heather Watts was in the corps for about 8 years, finally got promoted to soloist and was then promoted to principal within the same calendar year or something like that.

#6 California

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 09:35 AM

According to the "ballerina gallery" site, Ashley

. . .joined the New York City Ballet in 1967. She was appointed soloist in 1974 and principal in 1977.


Watts

. . . Joined the New York City Ballet in 1970. She was appointed soloist in 1979 and principal in 1979.


http://www.ballerinagallery.com/

#7 Cordelia

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 10:11 AM

I wonder how much of the delays in promotions to soloist or principal status have to do with budget concerns? Does a company have to have certain number of soloists versus corps dancers, and what about differences in pay scale? I can see late promotions a sign of budget constraints not lack of talent on dancers' part.

#8 Janet

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Posted 03 October 2011 - 10:35 AM

This was my first ballet in my new seats with the new pricing. I have to admit that I love going down a ring (into 2 from 3) - it appears to be so much closer to the dancers.
I am still breathless from watching Charles Askegard and Maria Kowroski in Diamonds. The music and dancers were so totally in-synch that I could not imagine one without the other. Every once in a while I'm reminded why I have been going to NYCB since the 80's and this was one of those performances.

#9 Colleen Boresta

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 02:15 PM

I saw the Sunday October 2nd matinee performance of Jewels.

“Emeralds” is a sedate, dreamlike piece. All the dancers are wonderful, but to me the real standouts are the three soloists – Antonio Carmena, Erica Pereira and Ana Sophia Scheller. Carmena has a lovely ballon and clean, crisp turns. Pereira and Scheller dance with a feather light vivaciousness that is perfectly suited to the delicate nature of “Emeralds”.

“Rubies” is a playful, jazzy ballet. As the central couple, Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz show incredible energy and project a lively sense of fun. Fairchild’s precise, quicksilver footwork is amazing to watch. De Luz just gets better and better every time I see him perform. In “Rubies” De Luz is electrifyingly captivating. His whiplash turns are danced at a breakneck pace. Many other dancers would lose control while whirling at such mind-blowing speed. In “Rubies” De Luz is in complete command of the stage at the David Koch Theatre.

As Balanchine’s “Tall Girl” in “Rubies”, Teresa Reichlen threatens to steal the show. Everything about her performance is larger than life. Her unbelievable extensions, (She has legs that go on for days.) the forcefulness of her attack, her gorgeous arabesques – all are combined with an explosive stage presence that keeps the audience riveted. I will never be able to see “Rubies” again without seeing Teresa Reichlen’s performance in my mind’s eye, and wanting only her to dance the part of Balanchine’s Amazon.

Whatever George Balanchine’s intentions were while choreographing “Diamonds”, it has always seemed like a loving tribute to the ballets of Marius Petipa, especially The Sleeping Beauty. Much of “Diamonds” is also reminiscent of Balanchine’s 1947 masterpiece Theme and Variations. If Balanchine wanted to pay homage to himself, (or just copy from himself) he was certainly entitled to do so.

Sunday’s performance of “Diamonds” was magical, especially the central pas de deux. As the lead couple, Maria Kowroski and Charles Askegard are achingly beautiful. Kowroski stands out for her meltingly expressive upper body, her gorgeously fluid movements and her lyrically lovely extensions. Askegard is dancing with more energy and precision than I’ve ever seen from him. As always, Askegard is an elegant and attentive partner. There has been a very special connection between Kowroski and Askegard for quite some time. On Sunday, due to Askegard’s approaching retirement from NYCB, (He retires on October 9th.) this rapport seemed bittersweet. During the bows, as Askegard knelt and kissed Kowroski’s hand, she looked as though she was trying not to cry. Seeing such emotion made their performances even richer for me.

I hope New York City Ballet continues to dance Jewels at such a high level for many years to come.














































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#10 ViolinConcerto

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 05:32 PM

According to the "ballerina gallery" site, Ashley

. . .joined the New York City Ballet in 1967. She was appointed soloist in 1974 and principal in 1977.


Watts

. . . Joined the New York City Ballet in 1970. She was appointed soloist in 1979 and principal in 1979.


http://www.ballerinagallery.com/



Boy, I didn't know about that link -- Thanks, California!

#11 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 05 October 2011 - 08:03 PM

Much of “Diamonds” is also reminiscent of Balanchine’s 1947 masterpiece Theme and Variations.


The first time I saw Diamonds...(via the POB DVD)-I was struck by the similarities. Still, I think the Diamonds PDD is just one of the loveliest I've ever seen. Still, on the whole, I take T&V at any time...(certainly partially due to how do I relate to it in terms of ballet viewing time, but also because I perceive it as superior choreographically...). Rubies I never got to like.


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