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Paris Opera Ballet: Which "Jewel" did you like best?


Paris Opera Ballet: Which "Jewel" did you like best?  

53 members have voted

  1. 1. Which was your favorite part of the Paris Opera Ballet's performance of "Jewels"?

    • Emeralds
      25
    • Rubies
      12
    • Diamonds
      12
    • No favorite
      4
    • 0


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On another thread, a number of members have expressed a preference for one part of the Paris Opera Ballet's Jewels over the others. It might be fun to get some totals. Here's your chance to vote for Emeralds (Faure: Pujol, Osta, Ganio); Rubies (Dupont, Carbone); or Diamonds (Letestu, Bart). Or for all of them equally, if that's your preference.

May the best Jewel win. :)

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Hey, you! You know who you are! There are 27 of you as of this writing. Defend your vote!

Thanks.

I voted for "No preference," for lack of ability to vote for one or another with qualifications. I found things to like and dislike in each section. I found Rubies the weakest in terms of dancing. The women's legs -- all 20 of them -- just looked so soft. Maybe the double-layered chiffon skirtlets made them want to dance that way. Emeralds was overdone, but had the most pleasing costumes. But Diamonds, IMO, was truest to the ballet's original spirit, despite the awful costumes. They made me want to squirm.

I hope some of you who voted will come back and explain why you voted as you did -- or didn't.

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You pretty much explained why I voted as I did, carbro. At NYCB performances, I generally prefer Emeralds and since this was the French ballet company dancing the "French" part of Jewels, I'd expected the same -- but I had all I could do to keep awake. And Rubies looked neither jazzy nor American. As you said, Diamonds came closest to the Balanchine ballet I know and love.

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I voted for Emeralds, because I like all of the principal performers, and I loved, loved, loved, the costumes. I didn't think all of the dancing was perfect, but I would have loved to see it from the auditorium, instead of with the camera in the dancers' faces.

I disliked Rubies from beginning to end, from the dancing, which I found off key, to the ruffly costumes, although they were sleek.

In another post, I described why I disliked Letestu's performance so much, but I did love the demis and the corps, my favorite of all of the dancing on the DVD along with Osta in Emeralds. Still, the principals are so important to the work that for me the corps and demis couldn't compensate for Letestu.

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When a spectacular ball player retires---it is not uncommon to retire their number---I think the time has come to retire the ballerina role of Diamonds---and leave us with our memories of Farrell. :flowers:

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I voted no favorite, as I was disappointed in the dancing and costumes for all three, although the Diamonds dancing was better than the others. The only backdrop I liked was the Diamonds one; I thought the others belonged at the Museum of Natural History as diaramas for gem exhibits.

My objection to the Emeralds costumes is not so much the style as the color green. NYCB's Emeralds costumes have some (I think) yellow or something in them to give a bit of zip. The POB green is all one shade and a bit boring.

The Rubies costumes -- with the layered look for the ladies -- made the ladies look chubby, and the shades of red for the ladies and gentlemen didn't match. But then again I am partial to NYCB's flaps as opposed to bouncy fluff.

The Diamonds costumes were my least favorite, both style and color wise -- not to mention the stiff long tutus, which are not my thing. The NYCB Diamonds costumes in person are actually not white but yellow, so when you see them on stage with the lighting they appear white. It seems to me that the POB Diamonds costumes started out white and in the harsh glare of lighting, appear much too white, and of course the tacky silver harkens back to the worst of the Bolshoi costuming era.

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When a spectacular ball player retires---it is not uncommon to retire their number---I think the time has come to retire the ballerina role of Diamonds---and leave us with our memories of Farrell. :flowers:

Just because I preferred Diamonds to the other sections of the P.O.B. Jewels doesn't mean I disagree. In fact I think all Farrell-originated roles should be retired except those she chooses to teach or coach herself.

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As someone who has been unfortunate to never have seen the original NYCB cast of Jewels (aside from Farrell on tape), I viewed all three sections as bare bones structure. Emeralds seemed to drag and I was disappointed. Rubies translated best for me as a whole, as the bare bones representation of the Balanchine-Stravinsky style. I've never seen Rubies before and am not familiar with the dancing style of the original cast members, which helped in my perception of POB Rubies. I can see where they were doing an "imitation" of a style rather than fully understanding the nuances. This is preffered to just not getting it at all, as in the Diamonds Pas. The corps in Diamonds was great and IMO had much cleaner arms than the NYCB corps - this was true throughout the broadcast. Onto the Pas - just another example of Balanchine's tailoring of a role to such an extent that it is impossible to find another to fill Farrell's pointe shoes.

By the time of the Dance in America tapings, Farrell had rejoined the company with much more life and dance experience under her belt. Also, wasn't D'Amboise the original partner in 67? Diamonds was a role for Farrell to grow into, as opposed to Don Q or Meditation, which were representations of who Farrell was then, still a young girl. Where I can see the latter two roles going stale over time, I can only imagine Diamonds got better as Farrell matured into Balanchine's vision of the absolute Ballerina. This being said, how does another dancer fill this role? In my opinion, you can't fill the role - you grow into it over time.

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I was somewhat underwhelmed by the interpretation throughout the performance, but then again it was an opportunity to see POB and that in itself is worth the price of admission. But the costumes were definite losers; what WERE they thinking?

Giannina

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I voted for Emeralds for the same reasons Helene cited -- the principals and the costumes. ("It's a Lacroix, sweetie!") :)

I would be curious to know if any of the other voters are like me -- this was my first exposure to Jewels in any capacity and I thought the whole thing was pretty darn swell. (I just happened to like Emeralds the best.)

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I tend to be with you on this, miliosr, though I agree with one of the posters on the other thread that Aurelie Dupont was miscast in Rubies and that Letestu's interpretation was far from a replica of Farrell's. This is not the Jewels of its first performances, nor are the dancers mirrors of the original cast.

However, as gatto97 (I think) said on the other thread, it's possible that Jewels is entering the same kind of position in the international standard rep as Swan Lake -- becoming a superb base on which various company styles, and changing aesthetic values, will inevitably attach themselves.

On the other thread, Dale listed the companies which have performed Jewels:

Regarding the question of other companies who do Jewels: I know of NYCB, PNB, SFB, PA Ballet has done it, Pittsburgh under Patricia Wilde, MCB, NoBC, Mariinsky-Kirov, POB, and Cincinnati Ballet with Ballet Met. The Dutch National Ballet is planning its first production in September, and the Royal Ballet is planning to present it in 2007. Several companies have done one section, usually Rubies (under the title Capricio, the title of the music).

Many other posters have seen the earlier NYCB version many times and are extremely attached to particular dancer approaches and deisgn elements from that time and place. Although I saw Jewels 4 or 5 times in the 60s and 70s, I apparently did not see enough of that production -- or pay sufficient attention -- to be attached on that level. I love the music, I adore the contrast of the three parts and the evidence of Balanchine's unbelievable choreographic breadth. As for POB's version,, I relish the chic but very danceable costumes and the use of brilliant color and light, and I admire the dancers' commitment to their performances, despite a few unfortunate expressions and gestures caught by the camera. Although I do remember Verdy and Villella vividly, and also McBride and Farrell, the pleasure of remembering them did not take away from the pleasure of experiencing what Paris did with the same material.

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BART stated:

I relish the chic but very danceable costumes and the use of brilliant color and light, and I admire the dancers commitment to their performances, despite a few unfortunate expressions and gestures caught by the camera. Although I do remember Verdy and Villella vividly, and also McBride and Farrell, the pleasure of remembering them did not take away from the pleasure of experiencing what Paris did with the same material.

For what it's worth, I agree. I LOVE this DVD. I've seen San Francisco Ballet perform Jewels a few times (a company I like very much) and remember little about any of those performances. After one viewing of POB I could tell you many things I loved!

Yes, perhaps not the ideal casting for Dupont, but its not as if she's a bad dancer. There are many things to enjoy about her performance - in my opinion anyway. Rubies on a whole is a bit "safe" from what I've seen other companys do, and Pat Neary staged it - and she's on tough cookie. I wonder if the "Parisians" softened her? :)

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Apropos the question of doing justice to Balanchine's choreography and to his intent as to the ballet's casting and performance. I just happened to come across this in Barbara Newman's Grace Under Pressure --

'What would an authentic performance be [of a Shakespeare play]?' Jonathan Miller asked rhetorically. 'It would be closest to the one that least distressed Shakespeare when he saw it."
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My vote went (against the grain) to Rubies because of the performances of Dupont and Gillot.

I was prepared not to like Dupont in Balanchine choreography, but in fact I found her dancing very much 'in tune' with Stravinsky's music, even though she may not have had the 'accents' that Balanchine dancers have given his choreography in earlier performances.

I thought her interpretation was valid. I know, I know she did not dance like McBride, or

any other NYCB dancer. Is that a surprise? She is not a NYCB dancer. She danced cleanly, unaffectedly, and I thought she gave a wonderful, honest rendition of the choreography.

One comment in this thread (which led me to defend Dupont's performance) stated that her legs -as well as those of all the other female dancers in Rubies- looked... soft.

How do you call 'soft' the legs of a dancer who executed three and four unsupported pirouettes flawlessly? How do you call soft a performance that delineated steps with such precision that I felt I hadn't seen some of the choreography before? Would she have been good with…. hard legs?

Some performers leave such strong memories that, you could say, they ruin it for others who follow. I feel that way about Villella in Rubies. Everyone who's followed him, in the role, seems lacking. (Villella had, aside from virtuosic technique, a strong charismatic personality).

But I thought Dupont (and Gillot) gave vibrant, convincing performances of the choreography.

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I would be curious to know if any of the other voters are like me -- this was my first exposure to Jewels in any capacity and I thought the whole thing was pretty darn swell. (I just happened to like Emeralds the best.)

Having only been following dance for a couple of years now, this was also my first exposure to any of Jewels and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately I never got to see Farrell, Villella, Martins, Watts, d'Amboise, etc., live and so I have no basis for comparison; and my eye for dance is not so practiced that I can recognize any faults in dancing beyond obvious clunkers. There was no clunking that I saw in this; however, my vote went to Rubies, specifically because I think the Stravinsky Capriccio is the strongest music Balanchine used, and because I thought the orchestral and pianistic performances were exceptional, and transmitted in very good sound.

I have a couple of questions to the more knowledgeable members of the group, however.

1) I made myself a DVD of the PBS broadcast and will view it with the comments here in mind; however I note some of you said a passage from Emeralds was omitted. Is this a serious gap, and would it be otherwise valuable to buy the commercial DVD?

2) Is Diamonds also incomplete? As viewed on PBS, the first movement of the five-movement Tchaikovsky 3rd Symphony was missing.

3) I know there are some Nonesuch DVDs including excerpts from Jewels. But I have read reviewers at the Amazon site complaining the audio and video were transferred out of synch. If this is true, should I get the VHS tapes instead, or has the problem been exaggerated?

Thanks,

Klav.

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I have a couple of questions to the more knowledgeable members of the group, however.

1) I made myself a DVD of the PBS broadcast and will view it with the comments here in mind; however I note some of you said a passage from Emeralds was omitted. Is this a serious gap, and would it be otherwise valuable to buy the commercial DVD?

the telecast omitted what the DVD notes call (track 10) "La mort de Melisande" - meaning the pas de sept Balanchine added in 1976 when he revised his '67 choreography. This pas is included on the 1977 "Dance in America/Choreography by Balanchine" program.

2) Is Diamonds also incomplete? As viewed on PBS, the first movement of the five-movement Tchaikovsky 3rd Symphony was missing.

"Diamonds" is complete on the PBS telecast, i believe - Balanchine excluded the Symphony's first movement in his "Diamonds" ballet from the beginning.

3) I know there are some Nonesuch DVDs including excerpts from Jewels. But I have read reviewers at the Amazon site complaining the audio and video were transferred out of synch. If this is true, should I get the VHS tapes instead, or has the problem been exaggerated?

i don't have any hard facts to confirm or deny assessments of poor transfer from tape to disc. (i know there have been several such views aired here, and suspect they are well worth considering.)

i've found it necessary to transfer to disc all the original telecasts - dubious tho these be in resolution and quality - as a separate 'original' examples of these filmings b/c they include not only the segments dropped from the commercial releases - i.e. Rubies pas de deux and Allegro Brillante - but also the narrations written by Arlene Croce and delivered by Edward Villella.

i guess for anyone hoping to keep track of details related to all this, the only answer is to archive the original PBS telecasts, the dvd-re-releases (for picture quality) and the recent POB dvd. (the PBS POB Jewels is a start, but as it's missing the 'pas de sept' as well as the packaging's track listings - all according to the music - and the 'extra' documentary called GEORGE BALANCHINE FOREVER.

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Edited to add: I was posting at the same time as rg. (It just took me about 10 minutes longer to format my response properly :))

1) I made myself a DVD of the PBS broadcast and will view it with the comments here in mind; however I note some of you said a passage from Emeralds was omitted. Is this a serious gap, and would it be otherwise valuable to buy the commercial DVD?

The last movement, which was added in 1976, gives the ballet a gravitas it doesn't have without it. I never saw the original version, but from descriptions it sounds like the aired version ended with the original ending. If the documentary George Balanchine Forever wasn't shown on PBS, then it's definitely worth the price of the DVD. The booklet is rather nice as well.

2) Is Diamonds also incomplete? As viewed on PBS, the first movement of the five-movement Tchaikovsky 3rd Symphony was missing.

Balanchine never choreographed this movement for the ballet.

3) I know there are some Nonesuch DVDs including excerpts from Jewels. But I have read reviewers at the Amazon site complaining the audio and video were transferred out of synch. If this is true, should I get the VHS tapes instead, or has the problem been exaggerated?

I don't know about the relative quality, but the excerpts from Jewels in the "Choreography by Balanchine" series include the Diamonds Pas de Deux -- worth it for the Farrell/Martins rendition alone (the clip in the "Balanchine" biography is only half of it) -- and most of Emeralds (the solo for the second woman is missing), with the "new" (1976) ending.

If the documentary was aired, and you're going to get a Nonesuch version anyway, you might skip the DVD, which has a version of the new ending. But if you don't have the documentary, I would get the commercial DVD.

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1) I made myself a DVD of the PBS broadcast and will view it with the comments here in mind; however I note some of you said a passage from Emeralds was omitted. Is this a serious gap, and would it be otherwise valuable to buy the commercial DVD?
To add a bit to rg's detailed response to your questions: the deleted "Death of Melisande" section is over 4 minutes in length.

I've looked at it again since reading your question, and I was astonished how different the ballet seems -- both as to effect and on the feelings and images it leaves you with -- with the deletion of this relatively short section.

The conclusion of the TV version is rather upbeat, almost celebratory, with 7 soloists backed by a female corps dancing in a kind of waltz time. The conclusion is a lovely but quite conventional classical set-piece pose.

However ... when the dirgey Melidsande music begins, the ballet changes dramatically. The female corps evaporates to the sidelines, leaving the soloists. Their movement has a great deal of formal walking and pattern making as in sarabandes. Ganio's use of leg and foot as he promenades is itself worth the price of the DVD, IMO. Then the 4 female soloists leave. The 3 men are left behind -- their last pose kneeling on one knee, facing stage left, with one arm raised upward and slightly forward.

The closing feeling is one of evanscence, loss of something that might be real or might be a dream. I really love this ending> :)

(And it's a much more effective contast to the beginning of Rubies, which comes next.)

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re: proper posting/editing: if i knew how to separate quoted questions and then append my replies i'd have done it; however, i'm 'all thumbs' w/ such things. i clicked '+ quote' but ended up the confusing running commentary that's posted above.

i'm sure it's clear to many more tech-savvy ballettalkers than it is to me.

sigh.

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rg,

I made the edits, but, trust me, you have better things to do with your time than to figure this out. (It really did take me 10 minutes of playing around to figure out how to do it on my post.)

Just as a general FYI diversion to everyone:

Edited to add -- I moved the info about how to quote other posts to this thread.

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The closing feeling is one of evanscence, loss of sometehing that might be real or might be a dream. I really love this ending> :crying:

I've always loved it too. However, I notice it's more moving and haunting in the theater. I think you need to see the whole stage picture at this point.

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I voted (awhile ago!) for Emeralds – for pretty much the same reasons as everyone else. I loved the costumes and despite the open mouth smiles and overly effusive moments I loved the port de bras and thought the dancers added a charming French “perfume”and warmth very appropriate to this homage to French romanticism.

I really, really disliked Rubies, and had mixed feelings about Diamonds. I’ll post more on the original POB Jewels thread.

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I am clearly in the minority, but I voted for Rubies- I thought the corps- particularly the four men- did a really terrific job trying to embrace the style. The way they moved and covered the space on that stage- especially at the beginning of the third movement. The principals were ok- I liked Dupont in this much better than Letestu in Diamonds, and while I was not crazy about Gillot, that impression had more to do with the fact that some of the choreography I did not recognize- little things I have become used to. She is obviously a very excellent dancer.

After this, I really enjoyed the four girls in Diamonds- they seemed the equivalent of the men in Rubies in terms of there scope of movement and attack. On top of the beautiful training, one can really start to see the structure of the choreography. Also- I enjoyed the performance of the second variation in Emeralds- I am not sure who this was. To me, one of the reasons Emeralds was disappointing because I missed the extended finale. It closes the ballet unexpectedly... I liked Bart's comment about the contrast between this ending of Emeralds and the beginning of Rubies. I never thought about it, but this does link those two ballets together- the final arm gesture of the men in Emeralds suggesting that somewhere, there is something else.

Also in Emeralds, the facial expressions for the woman in the first solo- the Verdy solo, were too contrived for me. There were moments when I felt that she had studied videos of Violette a great deal, and tried to apply Violette's individuality to her performance. It just didn't ring true. Both pas de deux's had much more- well- romance than I am used to. The choreography is romantic on its own, so when dancers try to add to that through longing glances, etc. it becomes too much. Fo me, that is. The pad de trois was ok- especially the man. The two girls I do not remember too much about.

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