Thursday, 20 April 2017

'Jewels' at the Royal Opera House

A couple of weeks ago we went to see the 32nd performance of 'Jewels' by the Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House. Choreography is by George Balanchine based around the jewels of emeralds, rubies and diamonds. It was also broadcast live to cinemas a few days later.  I like the triple bills the Royal Opera House puts on, where you can see three very different - or similar - ballets in one programme. In 'Jewels', rubies for passion won hands down for me.

First up was 'Emeralds' in which the ballerinas wore green bodices and the lads didn't. Why didn't the male dancers wear green doublets? That's something that bothered me throughout the whole sequence of dances. And it shouldn't have. It was distracting. It was all very stately and pretty but wasn't very exciting. It almost felt like going through the motions - slowly. I want fire and ice, I want passion, and that's what was missing from this ballet. I suspect part of the reason was the music by Gabriel Faure which was very poised and measured and lacking any real dynamism. However, there was lots of tippy work so that was a good thing.

Next was 'Rubies', a far more dynamic ballet that never stopped or slowed down. This had music by Stravinsky so was very dramatic and encouraged dramatic and speedy dance moves. This was gorgeous and gives the show it's poster with Steven McRae and Sarah Lamb pulling some signature moves. Both were excellent in this short ballet, never silent and never still, ramping up the movement and passion as the ballet progressed. The really impressive thing is that it didn't look practiced and pristine, it looked like it was natural to them, it's just what they do. And they do it so well. It's only a 20 minutes show and, given the energy on that stage, that's probably just as well to keep the dancers from flagging. I was exhausted at the end of it.

My favourite section was when Steven runs and leaps round the stage followed by the other lads and then he nods his head as if to say 'keep up lads' and then launches into a set of twirls round and round, faster and faster as he crosses the stage and into the wings at ridiculous speed. Wow, it was exhausting to watch and I hope there was a pile of mattresses in the wings for him to collapse into. That was really impressive and effortless from a dancer at the top of his game.

The final ballet was 'Diamonds' with the dancers dressed in white with lots of sparkly stuff on them.  It was a return to the stateliness of the first ballet but with more speed and far more dancers on stage, at one point there were 34 of them (I counted). This had a lot of energy going for it and I much preferred the ensemble dances to the more delicate solo dances. There's something about a stage of dancers all doing the same thing at the same time that is very watchable.

I think this is why I really enjoyed the final section with all 32 dancers of the Royal Ballet on stage with the two Principals all doing the same moves, synchronised perfectly with the music again and again, turn and stretch, move and leg left then leg right. It was almost mesmerising. The Principals here were Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares who led their company with great style and grace.

It's a great triple bill and it's great fun to see so  many different dancers doing their different thing to different styles of dance and music but my favourite has to be 'Rubies'. Steven and Sarah made a great partnership and Steven's big show off moves at the end embody all that is exciting in ballet. Go on you other Principals of the Royal Ballet, follow that!

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