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Miami City Ballet's "Jewels"

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"Jewels," indeed. This ballet has played the Kennedy Center in at least seven seasons that I can remember, and I've never witnessed a reaction from the audience was tonight. Spontaneous standing ovation, bravos, cheers. Like the triple bill, this was imperfect but God, it was alive.

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Alive? It was MAGNIFICENT!

You know, when Verdy was in "Emeralds", her variation, called Spinner after her music's title, came after Paul's, because it was more marvelous and so had greater effect (the other way round would have been anticlimactic); but when Verdy left it, Balanchine reversed the order because, with the new cast, the Paul variation became more effective. But Catoya is now SO good in it, I feel the original order needs to be restored. She was just marvelous. And the rest of "Emeralds" was lovely. (I think the last movement, melancholy as it is, added when Verdy left, is not quite on the level of the rest of it. But tonight? It was, never mind.)

And "Rubies", with McBride and Villella, was the ballet that hooked me on ballet in August of 1968 at the Ravinia Festival. It often hooks me again, freshly, as though I hadn't seen anything before it - coming to know and love the Stravinsky Piano Capriccio it's set to before I ever saw it set me up to be knocked over by it - and that happened again tonight.

I was hanging on every note, one after another, hanging on every step and gesture, right with them, as though one of them, breathing with the music, holding my breath at the cadences during the pas de cinq where the demi (Michelle Merrell) goes through her series of arabesques with her four boys: The corps gathers upstage on our left, as though something's coming, she's inverted in arabesque, there it is!, the audience has just time to suck in it its breath, and the series goes on, as though nothing had happened... And that's only the demi and the corps! Jennifer Kronnenberg and Eric Quillere' were the principals, their lightness, quickness, and joy beggaring my powers of description, she skipping in and around as though contact with the floor were optional, an afterthought, almost; he too.

After this, "Diamonds" was the needed GRAND Finale, Tchaikovsky's music, white costumes, Deanna Seay clearly and beautifully spinning out a seemingly unending flow of invention, all in good tempo, the harder for us to bear as this lavish pas de deux becomes overwhelming - twelve minutes we're told, but it seemed like four or five, not because it was rushed (it wasn't) but because we wish something like this really to be unending. But as they say in show biz, leave 'em wanting more. Yeah, they charged us up tonight, all right!

It's my understanding this phenomenon is to be repeated. On schedule!

[ 06-02-2001: Message edited by: Jack Reed ]

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The phenomenon did repeat itself, and it reminded me in fairness to mention that another contribution to the grandeur of "Diamonds" was Seay's partner, Mikhail Nikitine, whose dancing had elegance and finesse, for example in phrasing the series of turns in his variation. And the corps throughout the evening, from first note to last was vibrantly clear, from toe to finger tip.

I think "Jewels" is the finest thing MCB does.

Oh. Alexandra said, "...this was imperfect but God, it was alive." Why "but"? How about, "This was imperfect and God, it was alive."?... Me, I don't care about perfect. Perfect is boring.

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I've seen perfect performances that weren't at all boring, actually :) I once saw two weeks of them, night after night.

I thought "Diamonds" did not hang together Friday night. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't as good as it could be -- and as I think this company can be. (By "hang together" I mean my sense was that I was seeing a series of entrees and solos, not a complete ballet. The "through line," the structural tautness, was missing.)

I thought "Emeralds" was the ravishing one. If I've seen it done better, I don't remember it (I saw this, with Verdy, my first season at NYCB, but I only remember Verdy. I saw it with Merrill Ashley many, many, many times :)

I was told that Mimi Paul dropped in Friday afternoon and coached the dancers for several hours. (Mimi Paul was a Washington Ballet graduate, long ago.)

[ 06-03-2001: Message edited by: alexandra ]

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My sister and I saw Jewels over thirty years ago with Villella, McBride, Verdy, Farrell, d'Amboise, and it was an experience I have never forgotten. I took her to the matinee today for her 50th birthday, and we both enjoyed it thoroughly. Being thirty years older helps to appreciate the complexities of a work of art, and I expected to enjoy it, but I was enthralled and delighted beyond my expectations. I loved every bit of it, but my memory of thirty years kept a special place for Emeralds. When the dancers began, they seemed to just scoop the music up in their arms and send it out to us on a new wave. The depth of movement in the choreography just seemed to bring out phrasing in the music I would never have heard. I've never experienced a ballet performance before where the music and the movement seemed to work so beautifully together as if they were conceived at the same time and all of the same thread.

Although the house was not full, the audience was very enthusiastic, chuckling and laughing during Rubies, oohing and aahing over the costumes and scenery. I've rarely heard an audience start to applaud before the music stopped! But they did this afternoon. I've waited over thirty years to see this again, and was I thrilled!

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