Review: Australian Ballet, Jewels

Cool Sh*t, Play, Sydney / 15 May 2023

The Australian Ballet bedazzles with Jewels

The latest performance from The Australian Ballet is an exhilarating tricolour inspired by gemstones – emeralds, rubies, and diamonds.

In 1967, Russian choreographer George Balanchine intentionally created a ‘plotless’ ballet. An abstract, three-act performance, based on a theme. Balanchine, inspired by the jewellery in a Fifth Avene, New York shop window, carved out three distinct moods, reflective of three precious gems. Each act explores unique periods in the history of his life and career- the romanticism of France, the New York City Jazz Age, and the majesty of Imperial Russia. 

For the Australian Ballet performance, the original set designs and costumes have been lovingly recreated. The stage is captivating, dressed with floating jewels and curtains the colour of the jewels to be featured. The costumes adorned with thousands of rhinestones (sewn in over six months) and ballerinas wearing glittering tiaras.

It’s a lavish performance that will appeal to those who enjoy classical or modern ballet, as each jewel taps into a different ballet style and is matched with a complimentary musical score.

The mysterious emerald is a dreamy start to the triptych (3-piece). Conjuring a forest hunting scene and fleeting courtships, Emeralds is set to music by French composer Gabriel Fauré. The choreography reminiscent of a 19thcentury French Romantic ballet.  Dancers dressed in bejeweled green velvet bodices and long tulle skirts move in synchrony through the enchanted forest. 

In the second act, the flashiness of the ruby is matched by dynamic choreography.  Dancing is exuberant, energetic, and sexy, with showgirl poses and all the pizzazz of Broadway. Fast ballet footwork is in-sync with Igor Stravinsky’s jazz. It’s old Hollywood glamour, with ballerinas dressed in cocktail-like red numbers. The short skirts accentuate impressive one-leg vertical splits.

In closing, Diamonds is an extravagant finale to Jewels with the entire ensemble coming together. Set in Imperial Russia and accompanied by Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No.3 waltz, dancers move elegantly dressed in classical white tutus (with tulle jetting out horizontally from the hips).  Pleasingly, first principal couple Benedicte Bemet and Joseph Caley have paired once again, their strong sequences resulting in resounding applause.

Audiences will be bedazzled by Jewels at the Joan Sutherland Theatre, Sydney Opera House until 20 May.

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