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NYCB Vol. 8 No. 1 - Jewels

Updated: Mar 31

Today begins a year-long celebration of the 75th Anniversary of New York City Ballet and George Balanchine's impact on the ballet world. The season opens with a week of Jewels, his 1967 'plotless,' evening-length ballet.

Each of the three acts, separated by an intermission, takes on the aura of a different precious gem. The evening begins with Emeralds' romantic, dream-like quality, danced to the music of French composer Gabriel Fauré. Rubies has a distinctly American flavor, set to a jazzy Stravinsky score. Diamonds has a regal quality, evoking Imperial Russia and set to Tchaikovsky music.

Notably, each act coincides with the 3 countries that were most important to Balanchine's life and artistic career. Russia being his homeland, where he gained all his training at the Imperial Ballet School; France being where he spent time with Diaghilev's Ballets Russes as a choreographer in his twenties; and America where he built NYCB and led it for 35 years.

Each photo in this post shows how Balanchine could translate one "word" into several choreographic "languages". He took a penché arabesque and translated into the appropriate style for each act of the ballet as the music called for it.

Violette Verdy & Conrad Ludlow in Emeralds.

Suzanne Farrell and Jacques d’Amboise in Diamonds.

Patricia McBride & Edward Villella in Rubies.

All photos by Fred Fehl, 1967, courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.


We have lots to get into this season but today I will just leave you with these long exposures by Gjon Mili that look like candy to me. Happy opening and merde to all!

Photo by Gjon Mili for LIFE Magazine, 1969.

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