Miami City Ballet
September 23, 2022
Cal Performances UC Berkeley
“Jewels” is a ballet by George Balanchine, the famous choreographer and director of the New York City Ballet. The tradition is that he was inspired by a visit to Van Cleef and Arpels jewelry store. Whatever the inspiration, “Jewels” is a gem of a ballet! The first section “Emeralds” is, according to tradition, devoted to the “French” ballet.The music is by Gabriel Fauré: “Pelléas and Mélisande” and “Shylock”. It is described as having a “seamless haunting fluidity.” Whether it was nervousness about the opening event or just jitters about a premiere in Berkeley, “Emeralds” did not exhibit the “fluidity” it deserves. Seven soloists and nine “corps de ballet” danced. Program information did not specify the leading ballerina but Ashley Knox, Hannah Fischer, Mayumi Enokibara and Nicole Stalker provided the “cool” lines that weave through this section. This reviewer, (who has some training in ballet) wished for more “fluid” arm gestures. The men soloists were Kenan Cerdeiro, and Cameron Catazara.
“Rubies” was the hit of the show, since it is the most jazzy “American”, using syncopated rhythms by Stravinsky, “Capriccio For Piano and Orchestra” (1929). Here there was no mistaking the energetic, whimsical, flirtatious dancing of ballerinas Jennifer Lawson and Jordan-Elizabeth Long partnered by Alexander Peters. The soloists were backed by twelve members of the “corps”, but the three principals brought delight and renewed energy to the audience after the “cool” “Emeralds”.
One can imagine that “Diamonds” are “a girl’s best friend”, but in this case it was the dancing of Chase Swatoch partnering Dawn Atkins that drew attention. Swatoch has red hair and he is lively and dynamic and brilliant. The “Diamonds” section is supposedly Balanchine’s ‘homage’ to the classicism of 19th century Imperial Russia.
(Note: See a recent New Yorker article on Balanchine’s final visit to Russia.)
Steven Loch, listed as “principal” performed the male feats so featured in this style; turns, jumps, “tour jetes” and grand gestures. “Diamonds” ended with the full cast on stage! It appeared to be almost forty dancers! The audiences greeted them all with a standing ovation.
It was an exciting opening event for the 2022-23 Cal Performances season. Jeremy Geffen, executive and artistic director, welcomed the audiences with special attention to student attendance which will have special attention for future events.