Emeralds, rubies and diamonds are the inspiration for Balanchine's glittering triptych of abstract ballets. Each displays a facet of musical and dance styles intimately connected to Balanchine’s own life and career.
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George Balanchine was inspired by the artistry of Van Cleef & Arpels in the creation of Jewels. This unique full-length three-act abstract ballet was first performed in 1967 by New York City Ballet. Bolshoi Ballet's first production of the complete ballet was first given on 5 May 2012, to fantastic acclaim. The production uses new set and costume designs by Alyona Pikalova and Elena Zaitseva respectively, each of whom have incorporated designs from Van Cleef & Arpels in homage to Balanchine's original production.
In the three acts Balanchine delves into the essence of each jewel, using music from different composers and incorporating different balletic styles. 'Emeralds', set to music by Fauré, is infused with a dreamy French romanticism. The fiery 'Rubies' fizzes with the energy and exuberance of jazz-age New York in its setting of ebullient Stravinsky. And 'Diamonds', using music from Tchaikovsky's Third Symphony, evokes the high classicism of Imperial Russia, here brilliantly danced by the Bolshoi.