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 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 costumes were created by Balanchine's long-time collaborator Barbara Karinska, who created a distinct look for each different act: romantic, calf-length tulle skirts for Emeralds, fabric that flared at the hips of both men and women in Rubies, and the flat, classical tutu of the Imperial Russian Ballet for Diamonds. The costumes were such finely crafted pieces of art in their own right that some of them have been exhibited in museums and in theatre lobbies. Even Claude Arpels of Van Cleef & Arpels, who suggested the idea of a ballet based on gems to the choreographer, was impressed with her attention to finding the finest trim that would accurately represent the true glitter of genuine gemstones. Additionally, Karinska's painstaking work is credited with making the costumes last despite the sweat and strain of dancing in them. Her designs, needlework and choice in fabrics made them both durable and danceable, illustrating that the bodies inside the costumes were deserving of her utmost respect. When questioned about her attention to her almost extravagant detail she replied, "I sew for girls and boys who make my costumes dance; their bodies deserve my clothes."
- extracts from Gabriel Fauré's Pelléas et Mélisande (1898) and Shylock (1889).
- average length 31 mins.
- Movements 2, 3, 4 and 5 from Symphony No. 3 in D major (1875) by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
- average length 31 mins.
At the premiere in Spring 1967, Mimi Paul danced the parts of Sicilienne variation and the Nocturne ("walking") pas de deux in Emeralds. Paul later went on to coach other dancers in the part, including Sara Mearns.
Stagings (other than NYCB)
- John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
- Metropolitan Opera Association
- Ballett des Opernhauses Zurich
- East Berlin
- Strasbourg, France
- Koninklijk Ballet Van Vlaanderen/Royal Flemish Ballet
- New York
- formerly Fort Worth Dallas Ballet
- Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal—Johannesburg, South Africa
- Corpo do Ballo del Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Italy
- Columbus, Ohio
"It is open to doubt whether even George Balanchine has ever created a work in which the inspiration was so sustained, the invention so imaginative or the concept so magnificent as in the three-act ballet that had its world première at the New York State Theater last night." Clive Barnes
In 2008, the Royal Ballet won two Laurence Olivier Awards for their company premiere of Jewels at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, featuring new scenic designs by Jean-Marc Puissant, original costume designs by Barbara Karinska, and lighting by Jennifer Tipton. This was the first performance of the full-length ballet by the company, picking up the awards for Best New Dance Production and Outstanding Achievement in Dance. The Olivier Awards are the highest honour in professional British theatre and are equivalent to Broadway's Tony Awards.
- Balanchine – Jewels by the Paris Opera Ballet (2000). With Aurelie Dupont, Alessio Carbone, Marie-Agnès Gillot, Agnes Letestu, Jean-Guillaume Bart, Clairemarie Osta and Kader Belarbi.
- Choreography by Balanchine by the New York City Ballet (1979). With Suzanne Farrell and Merrill Ashley.
- Jewels by the Mariinsky Ballet (2011). With Irina Golub, Uliana Lopatkina, Igor Zelensky, Andrian Fadeyev, Zhanna Ayupova
In light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the performing arts, New York City Ballet released recordings of Rubies and Diamond. Rubies featured Megan Fairchild, Gonzalo Garcia and Mira Nadon, and was the latter's debut. Diamond starred Sara Mearns and Russell Janzen. Both Rubies and Diamond are recorded in 2019. The Royal Danish Ballet released a video of Emerald, featuring Amy Watson, Jonathan Chmelensky, Susanne Grinder and Marcin Kupinski.
- The ballet went officially untitled at the première.
- "Jewels". roh.org.uk. Royal Opera House. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
- Nancy Reynolds, Repertory in Review (New York: Dial Press, 1977), p. 247.
- Ballet Notes, BalletMet Columbus
- "Balanchine Foundation Video Archives: MIMI PAUL coaching the Sicilienne variation and the Nocturne ("walking") Pas de Deux from 'Emeralds'". Retrieved April 4, 2018 – via Alexander Street.
- "Jewels". Lincoln Center. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
- NY Times, Friday, April 14, 1967
- Amazon.com: Balanchine – Jewels / Aurelie Dupont, Alessio Carbone, Marie-Agnès Gillot, Agnes Letestu, Jean-Guillaume Bart, Clairemarie Osta, Kader Belarbi, Paris Opera Ballet: Movies & TV: Mathieu Ganio, Laetitia Pujol, Eleonora Abbagnato, Emmanuel Thibault Nolwenn Daniel
- Amazon.com: Choreography By Balanchine / Tzigane, Andante from Divertimento No 15, The Four Temperaments, Selections from Jewels, Stravinsky Violin Concerto: Movies & TV: New York City Ballet, George Balanchine, Suzanne Farrell, Merrill Ashley
- Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra, conducted by Tugan Sokhiev, 2011. ASIN: B005HK8KZ0
- "Stream Rubies and Concerto DSCH From New York City Ballet". Playbill. April 27, 2020.
- "Week 5 of New York City Ballet's six-week digital spring season". Gramilano. May 11, 2020.
- "Juveler". Det Kongelige Teater (in Danish). Archived from the original on June 6, 2020.
- Playbill, NYCB, Wednesday, January 2, 2008
- Playbill, NYCB, Saturday, May 31, 2008
- Playbill, NYCB, Saturday, June 7, 2008
- Repertory Week, NYCB, Winter season, 2008 repertory, week 1
- [https://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=FB0814FB3E5E137A93C5A8178FD85F438685F9 NY Times, Monday, April 17, 1967, by Clive Barnes
- [https://www.nytimes.com/1967/04/23/archives/dance-the-season-grew-rosier.html Sunday NY Times, April 23, 1967, by Clive Barnes
- Sunday NY Times, April 30, 1967, by Richard F. Shepard
- NY Times, Saturday, July 8, 1967, by Don McDonagh