I attended last night's performance of Jewels, and I feel as if I can watch this ballet over and over again and find new and exciting things in the choreography. No matter the casting, it usually provides such a satisfyingly complete night at the ballet. I sat closer than usual and was able to appreciate the way in which all three sets of glitzy costumes echo one another in certain motifs. I usually think of the costumes as being so different from one another, but there really is a common thread that unites them. With all due respect to Karinska, I Iwish City Ballet could lose the fingerless gloves in Diamonds. They provide a welcome dash of pure white, but the dancers look as if they are wearing arm braces for tendinitis!
Emeralds was perhaps the weakest performance of the evening. The steps were executed very well, and both Tiler Peck and Abi Stafford were quite musical. However, both ladies, especially Tiler Peck, seemed to lack the necessary lyricism for this ballet and didn't create a Romantic atmosphere. I always look forward to the arm motions at the beginning of the first female variation, but the way Peck performed them looked rote rather than ravishing. Ramasar partnered her very well. The walking pas de deux (with Danchig-Waring) was executed flawlessly, but again, looked a bit mechanical. If both ladies had had more expressive upper bodies, I think it would have made a world of difference.
Rubies was the standout of the evening. Teresa Reichlen's cool aloofness and gorgeous legs were just perfect for the role of the first woman. The leaps in which she kicks her leg up behind her were thrilling. Ashley Bouder was a force of nature in the second female part, whipping off triple and quadruple unsupported pirouettes (with only one slight bobble throughout the entire performance). Others have discussed her tendency towards mugging, and it was in full evidence last night, though perhaps it’s more excusable in this role than in others. I must say that I did find it a bit distracting; the choreography is already so showy that you don’t have to accent it with a ton of wink-wink facial expressions.
In Diamonds, the choreography for the corps can leave me a bit cold, but it was such a pleasure to watch Sarah Mearns in this piece. She truly does embody classical style, and every arabesque she struck was just exquisite. Her demeanor and expression created such an incredible mood during the pas de deux (unlike Emeralds, in which no specific mood seemed to be conveyed by the dancers.) The way she was able to almost speak through her arms and hands was very moving. (I don’t think I’ve ever been so fascinated with a ballerina’s hands before.) I do feel as if a more flexible back and upper body would have been an asset in this role, though. Zachary Catarzo was an excellent partner, and the only glitches occurred towards the end, by which time everyone on stage must have been exhausted.
As someone who goes to a lot of ABT performances, it has been interesting to attend Jewels, and, earlier this year, Balanchine Black and White. I’m struck by how NYCB is very consistent in the quality of the dancing. Often times, the partnering is perfect, and the fiendishly difficult sequences of steps appear executed with ease. I have seen very off performances at NYCB, but I suppose the overall consistency is due to the fact that everyone in the company is able to dance so much more and garner so much experience with partnering. At ABT, you can’t really count on a female dancer to do a double pirouette without falling out of it early, and so much of the partnering appears tentative. I realize it’s like comparing apples to oranges, but I wish ABT could provide more rehearsal, dancing opportunities, or whatever it takes to get their dancers up to par across the ranks.