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"Jewels" DVD and PBS Great Performances broadcast


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From the review in the LA Times of the DVD by Lewis Segal:

"The only thing missing [from the DVD] is the names of the former New York City Ballet dancers who staged the production (Karin von Aroldingen and Sara Leland, according to the Balanchine Trust, though Patricia Neary also reportedly did some coaching)."

Many thanks, Dale!

von Aroldingen as a stager may explain why Osta was effective in the part KvA danced in Emeralds, since most people here who know the POB dancers expected Osta to be cast as the tall girl in Rubies.

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Helene, probably you mean the small girl, not the tall one ? Osta is not very tall, and never danced the tall girl role as far as I know (I think it was always danced by tall dancers, like Letestu, Gillot, Baey, Romberg...)

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I'm really interested to see the Kirov dance it; they're probably excellent at Diamonds.
Actually, when I saw the Kirov's Jewels at the Met a few years ago, Diamonds was the weakest, by a significant degree. It seems they had trouble distinguishing between the Imperial style and a commentary on the Imperial style. Rubies was the strongest. And Emeralds was "almost there;" it looked like they understood what they were supposed to be doing but weren't quite sure how to do it.

And the costumes for Diamonds were -- believe it or not -- ecru. :speechless-smiley-003:

Because the choreography is ... a lot of walking. Or at least it seems like a lot of walking.
The second pas de deux in Emeralds is also a lot of walking, as is the first pas de deux in Chaconne, both of which I think are sublime.
Not to mention the central movement of Concerto Barocco, which is, IMO, Ballet Heaven itself.
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Helene, probably you mean the small girl, not the tall one ? Osta is not very tall, and never danced the tall girl role as far as I know (I think it was always danced by tall dancers, like Letestu, Gillot, Baey, Romberg...)
Yes, I did mean the small girl. I wasn't able to think and type at the same time. :speechless-smiley-003:
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Interesting about the "stagers." At Hamburg Ballet's premiere of Jewels recently the stagers were Karin Von Aroldingen, Patricia Neary, Elyse Borne (and a ballet mistress from POB, Malin Thoors, for tech week from what my buddy there told me.)

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Elyse Borne staged Jewels for PNB. Apart from a hour or so of coaching Patricia Barker and Stanko Milov received from Suzanne Farrell when she was in town last summer, and what anyone in the company remembered of Rubies from ten+ years ago or had learned from other productions, she taught every role, and "un"-taught alternate versions.

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Thanks, helene, for your explanations. I will be thinking of them as I revisit the DVD. So THAT'S what a "skip" button is for!

Maybe the same goes for Letestu (and in that time Bart can get a better hairdo, too.

A real hair-cut, disguised as an ill-fitting wig on a bald man! :huh: And, am I alone in thinking he looked like Tony Blair? :speechless-smiley-003:

Actually, when I saw the Kirov's Jewels at the Met a few years ago, Diamonds was the weakest, by a significant degree. It seems they had trouble distinguishing between the Imperial style and a commentary on the Imperial style. [ ... ] Emeralds was "almost there;" it looked like they understood what they were supposed to be doing but weren't quite sure how to do it.
I love the distinction you made here, which may explain a number of the anomalies that one can see as ballets wend their way into the reps of companies for whom they were not originally made, and whose style may be different or even antithetical to the choreographer's intent. This may apply to the cerebral POB approach as well, especially, I think, in their take on Rubies.
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Hm.. having just watched the DVD - my thoughts on Bart in the Diamonds pdd were not so much focused on his hair - but more that he was the younger man to the very experienced older woman (and not just in that purely platonic way). An odd disparity, when one normally expects a cavalier, or a subtle romantic relationship of equal age... And when he falls to his knees to kiss her hand - instead of it being a loving gesture, it looked more like the was collapsing down to draw emergency oxygen from her hand. My verdict is still out on Letestu's actual performance, but the corps was just stunning.

I actually didn't mind Dupont so much in Rubies - it looked like she was doing things "big" to be read across the giant expanse of the Opera Garnier stage. When the camera wasn't zoomed in on her face it all looked just fine. Marie Agnes Gillot, on the other hand, looked like she was thinking way too much into the role. She overexaggerated the seductive, foxy undertone to the role - ie in the very last few bars, when she waits for the lead couple to move back into position and her arms hang to her side, you can see that she very deliberately and forcefully "hung" her arms there.

Emeralds I thought came off the best (though I felt the camera should stayed more still during the first movement, instead of following specific girls around the stage). Personally, I loved Pujol's reading of the first variation. It had glamour and "perfume" that has been mentioned in other Jewels threads. ANd the corps just steps into this style so easily and effortlessly - this has become my favorite part of Jewels and the Paris Opera did it true justice.

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Gillot........looked like she was thinking way too much into the role.

Personally, I'll give her props if that were the case. I've witnessed "way too many" dancers on stage not thinking or not given what they are doing A thought. :speechless-smiley-003:

The "tall girls" at San Fran Ballet tend toward a more sex kitten like interpretation.

In the documentary Gillot's devotion to the original tall girl - Patricia Neary - is endearing. To me anyway.

or a subtle romantic relationship of equal age

Like Balanchine and Farrell? :huh: One sided as it was!

Letestu was born in 1971 - Bart in 1972.

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The second pas de deux in Emeralds is also a lot of walking, as is the first pas de deux in Chaconne, both of which I think are sublime. Do you feel the same way about those, or is just Diamonds that you find blah.

I love the "walking" pas de deux from Emeralds. I just find the Diamonds pdd blah for a variety of reasons, one of them being the music. It's slow and dirge-like, and the pas de deux always seems like sullen marching to me. Again, seen this live, seen this on video, and it always is (to me) the least interesting part of Jewels. I don't like the music and I don't like the choreography. I do like the conclusion of Diamonds however, just not the pdd.

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The press is starting to publish promos for this PBS/ Great Performances presentation of "Jewels" on Monday night (or whenver it's shown in your area).

Have fun. And PLEASE SHARE your thoughts and comments about the performances here. :clapping:

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I love the "walking" pas de deux from Emeralds. I just find the Diamonds pdd blah for a variety of reasons, one of them being the music. It's slow and dirge-like, and the pas de deux always seems like sullen marching to me. Again, seen this live, seen this on video, and it always is (to me) the least interesting part of Jewels. I don't like the music and I don't like the choreography. I do like the conclusion of Diamonds however, just not the pdd.

I don't dislike Diamonds, but it is probably my least favorite section of Jewels. Sometimes I think that Balanchine made one gigantic ballet to Tschaikovsky, and we see various parts of it in various works. To me, it feels that he is working with themes and ideas that he has also explored in other places, and though he does many wonderful things with them, I have a kind of deja vu response to the ballet. Lately, especially with the recent performances by PNB, I've been the most interested in Emeralds, partially because it seems much more unusual for Balanchine.

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I could not disagree more about the Diamonds pdd. I adore it. I love the regally understated opening, with the dancers approaching each other ceremoniously. The impression of a courtly distance between the two dancers is actually beautiful, conveying the sense of an imperial protocol, formal but not cold. The woman has the gravitas and coolness of seasoned royalty -- or she should have, which is why I find Letestu's alternately pained and flirtatious expressions so jarring. As Balanchine said, she is the queen, but he is not the king. He is the prince consort. That's why a royal deportment is so crucial, as exemplified by Martins and Farrell. I don't get that from either principal in this performance. The ending hand-kiss is emblematic of what's wrong. With Farrell/Martins, he offered the kiss as a tribute to her, and she accepted it as her due. It was thrilling. The POB version was anticlimactic -- thrown away, nothing special. I agree that the corps was sublime, but the principals didn't get it.

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My two cents – the “Diamonds” pas de deux is one of the most beautiful and moving I’ve ever seen. I could do without the rest, although I can sit through it. The finale seems to be Trying Too Hard, but then so is Tchaikovsky in that movement, so perhaps Balanchine was just responding to something in the music.

Phaedra392 writes:

With Farrell/Martins, he offered the kiss as a tribute to her, and she accepted it as her due.

True, and not in a haughty or dismissive way – she combines regality and tenderness. I agree, it's such a lovely moment.

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In the POB program my favorite was Rubies. It's so overexposed, and often danced poorly, but in this version I could see phrases and shapes, not just punched-out steps.

Emeralds was disappointing in that they chose to omit the final movement that B added. And what's with the crazed open-mouth smiles? Perhaps b/c it is the "French" section of Jewels my expectations were too high.

Diamonds pas just wasn't lush enough for me--esp. after seeing the Kirov's recent performances. (I disagree strongly with a previous poster who disliked the Kirov's Diamonds; I thought the Kirov's performance of the work was a revelation--previous to seeing it I tended not to pay much attention to the corps work, but I thought they really made something of it.)

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Emeralds was disappointing in that they chose to omit the final movement that B added.
I was surprised by this as well. It's on the DVD table of contents, and I THOUGHT I'd seen it there. Maybe they left it out due to the limits of a 90 telecast. If so, a bad choice.
And what's with the crazed open-mouth smiles?
I can't figure out why I missed this while watching the DVD. Pujol's mouth was indeed frozen into an oddly demented expression. Caught in the headlights?

Looking at Rubies again, and comparing it to NY, I was struck by how elegant and formal it looked, while keeping just a hint of the jazzy roughness. It was a combination I actually liked.

I continue to think this is a stunning production, which showcases the choreography and the dancers' bodies marvellously. Unlike some of the posters, I loved the costumes and prefer them to the fussier versions used by NYCB when I last saw this there in the 80s. As for dancing, tops for me were Osta and Ganio in Emeralds and the unidentified tall girl in Rubies. Letestu grew on me as Diamonds progressed, and I liked that brief final extension of the hand to her cavalier.

I wish Great Performances had made more of an event of it. The narration was sparce, and when it was over, it was over ... and quickly. Nothing was made of the individual dancers. (While of course much time was devoted to listing every donor and production and technical person.)

My impression was that, as a television "event," it was a question of: "Let's just stick the DVD in the damn player and get it over with."

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Emeralds was disappointing in that they chose to omit the final movement that B added.

I was surprised by this as well. It's on the DVD table of contents, and I THOUGHT I'd seen it there. Maybe they left it out due to the limits of a 90 telecast. If so, a bad choice.

It is on the DVD.
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I wish Great Performances had made more of an event of it. The narration was sparce, and when it was over, it was over ... and quickly. Nothing was made of the individual dancers. (While of course much time was devoted to listing every donor and production and technical person.)

My impression was that, as a television "event," it was a question of: "Let's just stick the DVD in the damn player and get it over with."

Well put. And I notice that all around the country it didn't air until 10pm. GOD FORBID they should pre-empt "Antiques Roadshow," episode 294,049.

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Emeralds was disappointing in that they chose to omit the final movement that B added. And what's with the crazed open-mouth smiles?

I had to get used to this too, but having watched the dvd numerous times I have to say the POB's Emeralds is just splendid.

So maybe there's some emoting, but the dancing is so extraordinarily musical and ecstatic, it just doesn't matter anymore.

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I wish Great Performances had made more of an event of it. The narration was sparce, and when it was over, it was over ... and quickly. Nothing was made of the individual dancers. (While of course much time was devoted to listing every donor and production and technical person.)

My impression was that, as a television "event," it was a question of: "Let's just stick the DVD in the damn player and get it over with."

Well put. And I notice that all around the country it didn't air until 10pm. GOD FORBID they should pre-empt "Antiques Roadshow," episode 294,049.

That's why I dvr'ed it. :) . It was on here also at 10pm. I was too pooped after preview night for school(redistricted elementaries this year so my preschooler and 4th grader are at new schools this year). Also the 4th grader wants to watch(budding ballet fan).

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The tall girl in Rubies was Marie Agnes Gillot.
Thanks for that information. After seeing her as Diana (in the DVD of the Neumeier Sylvia) -- and enjoying her intelligent comments during the interviews on that disc -- I'm hooked. :) She has a great sense of humor in Rubies, and deep pathos in Sylvia.

Question: the 4 men who dance with her in Rubies seemed awfully short, at least from certain angles. Is that common in casting these roles: to have the "tall girl" escorted and presented by the "short guys"?

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