Choreography: George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Music: Pelléas et Mélisande, Shylock, Capriccio for Piano and Orchestra, Symphony No. 3 in D major, Op. 29
Composer: Gabriel Fauré, Igor Stravinsky, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
Average Length: 81 minutes
No. Dancers: 66
Jewels is a three-act ballet created for the New York City Ballet by co-founder and founding choreographer George Balanchine. It premièred on Thursday, 13 April 1967 with Violette Verdy and Conrad Lulow; Mimi Paul and Francisco Moncion: Patricia Mc Bride, Edward Villella, and Patricia Neary; and Suzanne Farrell and Jacques d’Amboise in the leading roles at the New York State Theater, with sets designed by Peter Harvey and lighting by Ronald Bates.
Jewels has been called the first full-length abstract ballet. It has three related movements: Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds (usually separated by intermissions). It can also be seen as three separate ballets, linked by their jewel-colored costumes. Balanchine commented: “The ballet had nothing to do with jewels. The dancers are just dressed like jewels.” Each of the three acts features the music of a different composer: Emeralds is set to the music of Gabriel Fauré, Rubies to the music of Igor Stravinsky and Diamonds to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.
The first part, “Emeralds”, was arranged to music by Fauré, from Pelléas et Mélisande and Shylock. It is danced by two leading couples, three soloists, and a corps de ballet of ten girls. There is first of all a pas de deux to soft, melodious strings with eight girls accompanying, then a variation for a girl to light, lilting music. This is followed by a dance by the other leading girl. There is a pas de trois and then to music of muted strings another pas de deux, quiet and alone. All the dancers join in the finale.
The second part represents, “Rubies”, is danced to Stravinsky music. It was arranged for a leading couple, a soloist, and a corps d ballet of girls and boys. The couple and the soloist alternate in leading the ensemble.
The final part of the ballet is “Diamonds”, which is danced to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 in D major. It is danced by twelve girls and two soloists, the second is a pas de deux for the two principles, the third an ensemble with variations for the two principals, and the finale a polonaise for the entire group of thirty-four dancers.
Excerpts from 101 Stories of the Great Ballet by George Balanchine and Francis Mason. Published by Anchor books, 1989