So last night saw my triumphant return to my spiritual home, aka The Royal Opera House, for my first Royal Ballet viewing of the season in Balanchine’s Jewels. I saw this on its last run two years ago and, whilst I adored the razzamatazz jazz of Rubies, was totally a Diamonds girl – Emeralds I could take or leave. Two years later – older, wiser, more mature… yeah, okay, the last one’s a bit of a fib… would my opinions stay the same?
This attempt at reviewing is entirely liable to descend into “OMG!!!ELEVENTYONE!!!!SQUEE!!!” so if you want something a little more coherent I heartily recommend DaveTriesBallet’s review (what are you waiting for? Go and read is NOW, it’s good, no… it’s better than good: it’s brilliant). Anyway, back to the fangirlese-esque review.
Curtain up on Emeralds and somehow instinctively I kind of switched off a bit on the ballet. I don’t know why, there was something just not quite grabbing me. And then… oh then, Mara Galeazzi danced on to the stage and I was gone: bolt upright in my seat, fully alert, that amazing tingly feeling you get in your spine at really amazingly heartachingly beautiful ballet. You know when you suddenly ‘get’ a dancer and why they’re brilliant? That was my moment with Mara. When she left the stage I was left gazing adoringly after where she’d just exited almost like a lovesick puppy – I tell you, her epaulment is to die for. Her ensuing pas de deux with Bennet Gartside was nothing short of sublime, proper lump in throat, tears prickling at the back of my eyes, don’t let this end sublime incredible partnering. As the three men were left alone on stage and the curtain fell I was definitely an Emeralds convert and truly I appreciated the subtle understated beauty of it – well the Bennet and Mara bits anyway, but they were enough to make up for everything else.
Mara Galeazzi in Emeralds (c) Dave Morgan
I have unashamed love for Rubies – it’s bold, it’s big, it’s brash, it’s jazzy, it has panache and razzamatazz. It is, in short, the perfect vehicle for Yuhui Choe, Ricardo Cevera and Laura McCulloch. Laura was particularly outstandingly amazing, I mean total owning of the stage. Seriously, when she’s on top form you cannot touch her. She’s fiery, feisty, commanding – her jumps have incredible elevation, her extensions are eye watering – and her stage presence is second to none. I’ve seen her dance when she’s seemed a bit off her game, but last night she was out there with the proverbial bang. Bloody brilliant. The piece suits Yuhui and Ricardo too – playful, jazzy, fun – they both bounce off each other so well and it’s clear that they’re enjoying every single second as much as we are.
Laura McCulloch in Rubies (c) Dave Morgan
Diamonds topped off the bill and what a way to end. I’d deliberately picked the cast I saw because, err, Marianela Nuñez and Thiago Soares! Seriously, Marianela, would you like to be any more perfect? There literally are no words to describe watching Marianela and Thiago’s partnership on stage because it defies even my vocabulary. This was perfection, every tiny little gesture, every tiny little movement meant so much. Quite honestly I could watch them dance forever and never be bored. It was there again, as it had been earlier with Bennet and Mara, the spine tingle, the prickle of tears, the lump in my throat, the safe and secure knowledge that this is exactly why I love ballet.
Marianela Nuñez & Thiago Soares in Diamonds (c) Dave Morgan
I love Balanchine ballets – they’re a celebration of everything that is brilliant about ballet and they just keep giving. Just at the point you’re thinking ‘well what else can he pull out of the bag?’ you get something else pulled out of the bag. I love their abstractness, that you can make up (or not as you choose) your own stories surrounding the ballet.
On last viewing, I likened Jewels to a party – Emeralds is the early evening bit where it’s starting out and things are still vaguely sober and civilised, Rubies is the late night when things start to get a bit wild and Diamonds is the early morning break up where the couple you’ve been rooting for all night who are meant to be finally get it on. I think I’m gonna stick with that summation, it still seems fairly accurate. I’m still, I think, a Diamonds girl at heart but I’ve come to appreciate Emeralds in a way I didn’t last time and Rubies will always have a special place in my heart. Which is funny, because in reality I vastly prefer emeralds and rubies to diamonds – I find diamonds a bit cold whereas emeralds and rubies have so much more personality. Definitely a Diamonds girl…
…no, definitely Emeralds…
Oh sod it, can I have all three?
All images, full gallery can be found here:
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