The Royal Ballet present George Balanchine’s brilliant evocation of the sparkle of emeralds, rubies and diamonds in his full length ballet Jewels at the Royal Opera House, showing in live transmission at Oxford’s Phoenix Picturehouse.

Balanchine’s glittering ballet was inspired by the beauty of the gem stones he saw in the New York store of jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels. He went on to make history with this, the first abstract three-act ballet, first performed in 1967 by New York City Ballet.  Jewels was performed in full by The Royal Ballet for the first time in 2007, using costume designs from the original NYCB production and new set designs by Jean-Marc Puissant.

Each of the three movements draws on a different stone for its inspiration and a different composer for its sound. The French Romantic music of Fauré provides the impetus for the lyricism of Emeralds.  The fire of Rubies comes from Stravinsky and the jazz-age energy of New York. Grandeur and elegance complete the ballet in Diamonds, with the splendour of Imperial Russia and Tchaikovsky’s opulent Third Symphony.  Each section salutes a different era in classical ballet’s history as well as a distinct period in Balanchine’s own life. Through it all, Balanchine displays his genius for combining music with visionary choreography.  Jewels is a masterclass in the many luminous facets of classical ballet and indeed of The Royal Ballet itself, the intensity of the soloists and the precision of the entire Company.

Performances:  Tuesday 11th April 7.15pm, and Encore repeat showing Tuesday 18th April 12.00

Venue:  Phoenix Picturehouse, 57 Walton Street, Oxford OX2 6AE

Tickets:  Tuesday 11th screening Adult £22, Child £10, Student or Retired £17.50, Family x4 £64

Tuesday 18th screening Adult £17.50, Child £10, Student or Retired £15, Family x4 £55

Book online for Tuesday 11th screening here and Tuesday 18th screening here

An interesting mix of performances in the flesh and on the screen last week with two cinema visits for 20th century classics and new works transmitted by the Bolshoi and the Royal Ballet framing live performance of German contemporary dance from Sasha Waltz and Guests at Sadler’s Wells. If I dislike the cinema transmissions’ overhyped introductory promos and some excessively effusive commentary, I do enjoy seeing the interiors of other theatres, and some of the informative interview and documentary material provided. Close-ups highlight intriguing details of the dance, although sometimes at a price of losing their relationship with the wider stage environment; differing camera angles risk obscuring spatial design and choreographic architecture.

The Royal Ballet’s first transmission of a mixed bill marked the final farewell of much loved Carlos Acosta from the Covent Garden main stage starring as Don Jose in his own new version of Carmen. (more…)