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July 23, 2017


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I was there for Saturday night as well and couldn't wait to hear what you thought! I own the POB Jewels DVD and have also gone to many NYCB performances of it over the years so this ballet is so near and dear to me. I agree with so many of your points above - I thought Dorthea Gilbert was lovely (though it looked like she went off pointe during a supported tur at one point?Kind of looked like her partner had to muscle her though it) Her backbends were ravishing and her whole aura was just alluring. For lack of better words, Tess Reichlen was just SAVAGE AS as the Tall Girl, those opening battements were just killer, I was beside myself. And of course Megan and Joaquin.. they were so playful with each other last night, I will miss their partnership when it inevitably comes to an end. Did you notice that little cock of the head he did gesturing the corps men to keep up with him?! It slayed me. Megan seemed tireless I felt like there was no end to her sass and energy. She is easily my favorite NYCB dancer. I'm really curious to see who else takes on this role after her and Ashley and Sterling (Indiana? I don't quite buy Lauren in it).
Maybe I am a stick in the mud but I didn't love how the Diamonds pas de deux turned into "let's see how long I can hold this pose and have everyone applaud" - I have never been to a show where the PDD was interrupted by applause I feel like it broke the spell and she came off really cold to me - but that's just me. Funnily enough I did not notice her shoes that much (even though I have tried Gaynors myself back in the day - preferred Bloch or Freed though) but my husband thought she was barefoot because he felt like he didn't see a box or platform, go figure. I did think the corps was very smiley and sparkly but not that energetic. And was it me or was the tempo slower than normal?
All in all I felt it a very historic event, one we're not likely to see again or for some time.

True, Dorthea did come off pointe twice in the second performance during that twirly-gig in front of Hugo. It was a relatively simple move, so it must have just been a blip.

I found the music on the first night for Emeralds and Diamonds to be just dreadfully uninspiring and dull. At times, it sounded like the musicians were "marking" their notes.

For last night's Diamonds, however, the percussion and brass were very bolshoi - like they were trying to blow the roof off. I think it really lifted the performances of the Russian dancers, and they seemed incredibly happy.

True, Olga held some long balances, but I found them mostly beautiful as opposed to showy. And she didn't hold them until the closest point to disaster the way Sara did sometimes. The two women had similar goals but achieved them so differently.

Agree about Tess and her battements. The Bolshoi soloist did not even make the effort, but maybe that's how Neary set it on her.

I forgot to mention in my review how much I enjoyed seeing POB's and the Bolshoi's costumes. I loved all of them, but especially the Lacroix Emeralds. All of the costumes were lovely against NYCB's set designs.

Thank you for this review. Once again, I'm very jealous of the New York audience, if I lived in the US I'd love to Watch 3 or 4 of these performances as well. And I love to Watch Hugo and Dorothee together on stage. Love them! I was curious as to what you thought about Leonore and Germain's performances?

Yes, I wouldn't blame the distracting interruptions of applause on the dancers. The top ring last night was filled with students who were rather over-the-top in their expressions of enthusiasm.

I'm glad everyone is giving such nice reviews of this festival presentation of the ballet.

I couldn't watch it. I grew up on the VHS version with many of the original dancers and to see modern changes in the choreography and slackness in presentation would be too sad to me.

I wasn't offended by "changes" some perceived in the choreography. The Rubies was set on the Bolshoi by a mid-20th century Balanchine ballerina who most likely did not do the battements to the forehead that Tess Reichlen does today and may even have disdain for them (along with other things that Martins allows). Perhaps after seeing how NYCB ripped through Rubies three times, the Bolshoi will decide to amend and upgrade to a staging more like what NYCB does today.

With regard to Emeralds, today NYCB truly exaggerates the leg and arm movements that are similar to the abrupt ticking of a clock's second hand. I could find no fault in the soft, less perceptible manner in which the POB dancers handled this section. I rather liked it, and I rather don't like how NYCB dancers today exaggerate it.

As for Diamonds, I'm not a fan of Sara Mearns' bull-in-a-china-cabinet interpretation. Hers is a unique, non-standard take on the choreography which hopefully will disappear from NYCB when she retires. Kowroski and Reichlen are much better fits for the role. I hope to see Emily Gerrity in the role soon, because I suspect that she could be a Diamonds ballerina for the ages.

I was blown away by Tess on Saturday night. I haven't seen NYCB do Jewels in years and I must've forgotten how they do it... it was a highlight of the year so far for me. And Joaquin! He was explosive. Megan looked feisty and in control, and I'm usually not the biggest fan of her. She's been surprising me lately and it's great.

Diamonds was wonderful as well so I won't rehash what everyone else has said... but were there some Odette/ Odile mannerisms on display from Smirnova Saturday night? That kind of stuck out to me and it threw me off a bit. Afterwards I watched the video of Suzanne Farrell in the Diamonds PDD on Youtube and I only saw one or two vaguely swan-ish movements. I'm interested to know others' thoughts.

Nice reviews. Thank you, Haglund.
Funny, when I tried Gaynor Mindens (back in the late 90s) I thought they were actually less stiff, more pliant, tapered, and definitely quieter than standard pointes, particularly compared to Russian shoes, like Grishkos, which can look very boxy. Gillian Murphy wears them, as does Cojocaru, and their feet seem to articulate fully. I wonder if it's just a matter of fit?

Hi, Daisy. Thanks for your comment.

I know there are a lot of Gaynor Minden fans, particularly among students and their parents who have to fork out the money for pointe shoes regularly.

The two examples who you mentioned, however, -- Gillian Murphy and Cojocaru -- are two examples of dancers for whom the Gaynors do no favors, in my view, and in fact look dreadful. The only people who look good in them are ones with extremely narrow feet or ones whose special order specifications make them almost look like other brands.

In relation to the shoes, I think the Gaynor Mindens are built like sports shoes with construction that helps the dancer get on pointe easier gives support with less pain. But that means the dancers are no longer relying on strong feet. Sigh. I suppose the days of Cynthia Gregory's amazing controlled roll down from pointe (ala Rose Adagio) are truly a lost technique. I've taken a look at Mindens' website. Honestly all the photos they show of their shoe models lack a beautiful arched foot. The shoes look extremely blocky too.

I don't see dancers giving up on these shoes. They are a necessity now due to the fact that their existence has changed dancing instruction and technique.

On Jewels, I like Mearns but I avoid her Diamonds. She has the right instincts about the role but the attack is all wrong. I would love to know who is coaching this work and telling all the dancers that it is Swan Lake lite. It isn't. Please Balanchine Trust mend fences with Suzanne Farrell. YOU NEED HER To coach this ballet. There is absolutely no reason for this part of Jewels to be so degraded.

Mearns danced "Diamonds" with the grace of a quarterback. I am not sure if her costume was poorly fitted, but her midsection looked very stocky, and her naturally raised shoulders didn't help either. She is a very talented dancer, but neither "Diamonds" nor "Swan Lake" seem to be her forte. I so wished they gave her "Rubies" instead. The Bolshoi's "Rubies" were nice, but it almost felt like watching a different ballet than when NYCB performs them.

I was so looking forward to your review, Haglund! I adored Alena Kovaleva in Diamonds, she was regal and a breath of fresh air at the same time. The woman next to me was literally holding her breath and gasping in delight throughout. I wanted to add that I enjoyed the Bolshoi's Diamonds costumes. They were a cooler tone of white (compared to the NYCB's), and I thought this fit the idea of a diamond's cold fire.
I couldn't believe how lucky I was to witness Tess, Megan and Joaquin in Rubies... I ran to the box office immediately after the matinee desperately hoping I could witness this cast again in the evening, but it was not to be.
To NS, I did see that little cock of the head from Joaquin teasing the corps to keep up, it slayed me too, as did the saucy knowing glances from Megan. She was a firecracker!

I don't know what I love more about your reviews, H., the review itself (always smart, interesting, and well-written) or the humor infused throughout! I laughed out loud at least three times while reading this latest post.

I only went to two of the five performances, but felt so lucky to have been there at all! It was also so nice to see the NY State packed, too. They sold out, including standing room only, despite the very high prices.

Thanks, Deb.

Yep, it seemed to be sold out via real sales each performance except for Saturday night when the 4th ring was filled with SAB summer students, most of whom were as tall as giant sequoias. NYCB's future looks "big".

The ticket prices were steep, but I paid them with little complaining. Taming of the Shrew, however, has yet to open my wallet.

I've always thought Gillian Murphy has the worst feet in the biz. Those Gaynors make her feet look positively flat. If she were enlisting in the military, she'd be 4F in a heartbeat!

Your review is fantastic, Haglund. I so wanted to see Jewels but couldn't get to NY. I've enjoyed reading all the other comments too. Good point about Farrell coaching Diamonds -- but I doubt that's going to happen. I've watched the Farrell/Martins Diamonds on youtube many many times and that to me is the gold standard.

I went on Wednesday night. Maybe it was the distance from the stage but I actually enjoyed the Paris ballet Etoiles more than their corps, especially Pujol. I thought the corps were loud and out of sync.
Fairchild and De Luz were magnificent. So was Reichlen. The entire Rubies section was great. I do not think anyone can top NYCB in Rubies.
Thoroughly enjoyed the Diamonds. Chudin was perfect and I really love Smirnova's dancing, even in boxy Gaynors (a lot of Russians prefer them now it seems). She has this gorgeous elegant musicality, and those expressive arms and hands. The whole evening was such a treat.
I wish I could have seen more.

I agree about the Gaynors; they look dreadful on most feet while being quite light and pliant compared to all other brands, actually. They just don't tend to conform to the correct parts of the foot and the narrow platform profile is uniformly unflattering. I DO like the way they look on Alina (acceptable) but certainly not on Gillian. I cannot stand watching her because her feet look so awful. They look just fine on some dancers, such as Veronica Part. But really, there's no shoe that looks as good as a special order Freed when the specs are chosen well for the dancer in question.

In general I've never liked the way Russian women dance on pointe, as their standard Grishko type shoes are terrible and they don't roll through the feet as the French and Americans do. Their shoes end up looking like appendages rather than part of the body.

Is it just me, or are NYCB's "Diamonds" costumes simply awful? All of the dancers looked so heavy to me (and I'm not talking about Sara Mearns's dancing, which I liked, but I'm no expert). Stocky and unflattering get-ups, those "Diamonds" costumes, I thought. Hated the feathers. And after reading all of the comments, blog postings, and reviews, I do wish I had chosen a performance other than the final one (Sunday matinee). I couldn't help thinking of the "Jewels" that I've seen in the past (Kyra Nichols!) ... but, still, I enjoyed myself. And again, is it just me, or is "Emeralds" the most wonderful of the three ballets? I adore each of them, of course, but for me, "Emeralds" is very, very special.

I understand what you are saying, but I do like the Diamonds tutus. My experience has been that when sitting in the second ring and above, the stage lighting always makes the dancers look so much less attractive and more heavy than when viewed from the lowest ring or the orchestra. The lighting casts shadows that make the upper arms look fleshy no matter how thin they really are, and also widens everyone's girths - most noticeable in costumes like the Diamonds tutus which emphasize that area. Those ladies who wear a lot of dark eye makeup and white base (like Mearns) have their faces spread from wing to wing under the lighting and sometimes have the swollen look like they're on steroids with darkened eyes receding into their white faces. But nobody seems to be paying attention to what the stage looks like from the upper wings.

I agree with you about Emeralds although I think the Diamonds PdD might be one of the most beautiful and brilliantly conceived PdDs that Balanchine ever created.

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