JEWELS (PA Ballet): A dazzling season finale

PA Ballet Jewels review

Artists of Pennsylvania Ballet in George Balanchine’s JEWELS. Photo Credit: Alexander Iziliaev

Pennsylvania Ballet closed its 2017-2018 season with George Balanchine’s masterpiece, JEWELS. The ballet showcases three iconic ballet styles of eras when the art of ballet boomed and established distinctive and unique forms and characters.

Romantic ballet, born in Paris and London in the early to the mid 19th century, is symbolized by the elegant and mystic “Emeralds”; the New York–style ballet founded in the mid-20th century is characterized by the glamorous and passionate “Ruby”; and majestic and divine “Diamond” represents the Russian imperial ballet of late 18th century, which remains prominent today.  

On a stage with no set but a black back screen, simple lighting formed a chandelier and starry sky.  The dazzling costumes decorated with sparkling jewels also follow the patterns of the each ballet style, and awed the audiences from the moment the curtain opened.

 

Pennsylvania Ballet Corps de Ballet Members Jacqueline Callahan, Zecheng Liang, and Nayara Lopes in George Balanchine’s JEWELS. Photo Credit: Alexander Iziliaev

Pennsylvania Ballet Corps de Ballet Members Jacqueline Callahan, Zecheng Liang, and Nayara Lopes in George Balanchine’s JEWELS. Photo Credit: Alexander Iziliaev

The first act, “Emeralds“, was choreographed to melodic scores by Gabriel Fauré.  Mayara Pineiro and Arian Molina Soca performed pas de deux on the opening night. Sadly, the iconic elements of the romantic ballet, such as delicate bourree that make ballerinas look as if they are floating in the air, or gently curved lines from neck to fingers that create feminine and graceful postures, were missing from most of the dancers both soloists and corps de ballet, thus turning the first act simply ‘a classical ballet.’  Still, the solo and the duet by Oksana Maslova and Ian Hussey were dreamingly beautiful and perfection. Pas de trois by Nayara Lopes, Jacqueline Callahan and Zecheng Liang was also noteworthy and captivating.

The dramatic Stravinsky’s music with a pianist, Martha Koeneman embarked the second act of Rubies. The dancers in vivid red costumes danced boldly and lively.  Their physicality and footwork completely contrasted with Emeralds. The steps en pointe were used to magnify the strength and boldness of the ballerinas. The soloists, Lillian DiPiazza, Jermel Johnson and Alexander Hughes demonstrated accomplished and astonishing performance.

The finale was Diamonds to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 in D Major.  In the elegant white costumes, the dancers exhibited the virtuous classical ballet.  Dayesi Torriente and Sterling Baca performed the opening night’s title roles. As if they were experimented their partnership, they competed and sparkled stronger and brighter towards the climax.  Even though there was no libretto, the dramatic music and the gifted dancers let the audiences imagine a story of their own to the scene.

The company has just announced its daring and fearless 2018-2019 season with two of the most challenging ballets, Sir Kenneth Macmillan’s Romeo and Juliet and Giselle, in addition to several world premieres. Artistic director Angel Corella is confident and has a complete trust in the dancers and the company. And the dancers will surely conquer any obstacles that come in front of them for yet another amazing season.

[Academy of Music, 240 S Broad Street] May 10-13, 2018; paballet.org/

Dance, Reviews - Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , - no comments

About the author

Eri Yoneda

Eri Yoneda writes about dance and classical music for Phindie.