Ballet West returns to Northrop Feb 22-23 with the George Balanchine masterpiece Jewels. Here are Five Fast Facts to know about the company and the performance in advance.
- Highly-esteemed choreographer and co-founder of the New York City Ballet, George Balanchine was known to create plotless ballets, in which there is not a central storyline. Instead body movement, theatrical elements, and music selection are used to provoke emotion. In his pieces, he “never featured a star, as he believed the performance should outshine the individual.”
- To publicize the 1967 premiere of Jewels, Balanchine and dancer Suzanne Farrell met with press members at New York jewelry store Van Cleef & Arpels. Some speculate the ballet was inspired by the company’s ballerina brooches.
- While Jewels’ three movements are titled Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds, Balanchine had considered adding sapphire as an additional jewel. The stone did not make the cut because “the color of sapphire is so hard to get across on stage,” Balanchine explained.
- The three pieces of Jewels all represent an era that has influenced Balanchine’s esthetic, with distinctive music to match. Emeralds is set to Gabriel Fauré’s dreamlike score and evokes memories of France; Rubies features the high intensity of Igor Stravinsky’s jazzy energy as a nod to urban America; and Diamonds represents Balanchine’s native Russia with Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s awe-inspiring sound.
- Starting in 2012, Ballet West was the subject of an American reality television series, Breaking Pointe. The show covered behind-the-scenes action within the dance company and lasted two seasons.