Nothing Semi Here
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
10/20/2017 - & October 21, 22*, 2017
Jewels: Emeralds  – Rubies  – Diamonds 
George Balanchine (choreography), Gabriel Fauré , Igor Stravinsky , Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky  (music)
Tricia Albertson, Rainer Krenstetter, Emily Bromberg, Renan Cerderio, Nathalia Arja, Shimon Ito, Ashley Knox , Katia Carranza, Renato Penteado, Jordan-Elizabeth Long , Simone Messmer, Jovani Furlan, Emily Bromberg, Samantha Hope Geller, Ashley Knox, Nicole Stalker, Didier Bramaz, Shimon Ito, Chase Swatosh, Damian Zamorano  (Principal Dancers and Soloists), Miami City Ballet
Opus One Orchestra, Gary Sheldon (Conductor)
Tony Walton (Scenic Design), Haydée Morales (Costume Design), John Hall (Lighting Design)
R. Krenstetter, T. Albertson in Emeralds (© Alberto Oviedo)
Every time Jewels is announced as part of a season’s repertoire, the ballet going community boasts to each other with ear to ear grins (“Did you see what they are doing this season?!!!”). Those of us who have seen it numerous times are equally excited. I myself have noticed that after each experience I am startled at how I underestimated the power of certain sections. I remember my first time thinking that the whole work was about Rubies and the other sections, though beautiful, were just ornamentation around the centerpiece. The next time had me so overwhelmed by Emeralds that I hardly paid attention to the rest as I continued ruminating about French delicacy until it was time to go home.
There was a season when Miami City Ballet offered the pas de deux from Diamonds as the farewell piece for the lovely Deanna Shay. It is not easy to pay attention to the remainder of a program when one is constantly thinking, “If only we could see the rest of Diamonds”.
The last time that Miami City Ballet offered this three act masterpiece was in 2007 when it was given a new production. The unobtrusively unpretentious set and lighting with costumes of similar elegance made for another knockout evening with Miami City Ballet.
This revival was special in that because ten years have passed all of the leads (except for the always stunning, impish Renato Penteado) are new to their roles. The performance had a freshness and enthusiasm that one might expect for a premiere, not an opera that is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
I have never seen Emeralds performed with such intensity. This section of Jewels is certainly the most thought provoking. The Fauré music has a watery flow that always allows one to meditate while not able to ignore one’s concentration from the stage activity. It is interesting how if there are tears to shed during this ballet, they will probably come during the first movement. This group of dancers, led by the commanding Rainer Krenstetter and the ever elegant Tricia Albertson approached the work with a perfect combination of joy and solemnity. This was a model of how Emeralds must be undertaken.
Rubies is probably regarded as the fun part of Jewels. Though Balanchine denied it has an American temperament, I am sure most of the audience would argue with him if we still had the chance. There is such a playful quality that it is hard not to think of his work as a Broadway choreographer; think Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Penteado and Katia Carranza are perfectly matched for the necessary intensity and speed. Especially thrilling was watching them move their feet along with specific notes on the piano. All the intense Balanchine/Stravinsky vocabulary suits this duo perfectly. And Jordan-Elizabeth Long fits the role of the Siren beautifully, taking full authority with every appearance.
Diamonds is where I had trouble this time. And it is not the fault of the company or Balanchine. The pas de deux of Simone Messmer (though please flash us a big smile once in a while) and Jovani Furlan (thrilling leaps and intense speed) was stunning in its strength and precision. But the corps work was less entrancing. I had never before seen Jewels from the orchestra level. The piece from this angle looked cramped, as if there is too much activity. Those who have not seen this piece from a higher elevation will be startled by how much breathtaking choreography they missed. It just gets bigger and bigger as the chandeliers get more and more plentiful. It is like a wedding cake after a stately ceremony and a dazzling reception.
Once again Gary Sheldon leads the Opus One Orchestra in a polished performance that finds each composer’s truest intentions. The dancers seem to be so assured with his direction.
Hope we don’t have to wait for another ten year anniversary before we can gaze at these most precious stones.