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Jewels [Blu-ray]

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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(Oct 11, 2011)
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Editorial Reviews

Before emigrating to the West, George Balanchine studied in St Petersburg and was a member of The State Academic Theatre, now known as the Mariinsky. Jewels dates from late in his career as a choreographer and was premiered at the New York City Ballet in 1967 and since 1999 has been a core part of the Mariinsky Ballet s repertoire. Regarded as the world s first abstract ballet, Jewels features music by Fauré, Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky. There is a stark contrast in composition and style for each of the three acts, linked only by the dancers dazzling costumes encrusted with colored gems. The Mariinsky Ballet (also known as the Kirov) is probably the world s greatest ballet company. They are supported here by the Mariinsky Orchestra, led by Tugan Sokhiev. The performance was filmed by Brian Large at the Mariinsky Theatre and the both the DVD and Blu-ray discs include a bonus interview with the Artistic Director of the Mariinsky Theatre, Valery Gergiev.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Mariinsky Ballet, Mariinsky Orchestra
  • Directors: Tugan Sokhiev
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Classical, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    General Audience
  • Studio: Mariinsky
  • DVD Release Date: October 11, 2011
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B005HK8L0Y
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,728 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In short: mixed feelings.

By way of background, I had the good luck to have seen the Mariinsky / Kirov perform Jewels in California in 2003. Jewels had been a bit hard to catch in that period unless you lived in NYC, and no complete video recording existed at the time. Hence I was ecsatic about the ballet, in which I saw a number of the same artists who perform in this new dvd (notably Ms Lopatkina and Mr Fadeyev).

Every major ballet company has its unique style, which is a wonderful thing. But the consequence is that when a highly stylized group of dancers try to perform the work of a choreographer alien to their core repertoire, that style will show through. And so it did in this dvd. At times I had to ask myself, "Who re-choreographed this work?"

Emeralds was danced in a workman-like fashion, but left me cold. Ever since Violette Verdy threw in the towel as a repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust, I don't think any company has really nailed this act. Even the NYCB.

Rubies had an unexpected smoothness and flow where sharpness and discontinuity are called for. The proverbial ear-whacking kicks were there in abundance, as another reviewer has noted, but the elements of thrill, spontaneity and edginess were lacking.

Diamonds, oddly enough, was problematic as well. The tempo of the first section was way too fast (granted, the Tchaikovsky score can be a bit dirge-like), and the ensemble - albeit in the astounding unison for which the Mariinsky is famous - seemed rushed to keep up. Now as to Lopatkina in the pas de deux, which I think is one of the master's masterpieces: perhaps she thought she was dancing Odette in Swan Lake, but her little affectations (e.g.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
I must consider myself one lucky guy having the blu ray of this performance, a dvd of the Paris Opera Ballet "Jewels," the selections in the Choreography by Balanchine collection, and memories of countless live performances by the New York City Ballet including, however vaguely by now, those by the performers on whom Balanchine choreographed the work (except Mimi Paul).

I have a soft spot for Emeralds. Fauré's music is as unlikely a choice as one can find for ballet, yet, is there music more haunting, more elegant, of a deeper green? George Balanchine was a superb musician and he chose his scores very carefully. He would say that if you are bored with the ballet, "with my ballets I will give you music so you can close your eyes and just listen to it." With either the proceeds from a poker game (or maybe for doing some dances for a Broadway show) he commissioned from Hindemith a piece for piano and orchestra, requiring only that the piano part be easy enough for him to play. Thus came to be "The Four Temperaments" which he not only could play but would become one of his early NYCB masterpieces, and today danced world-wide. So Fauré, and the fine choices Balanchine made within the Fauré canon. Balanchine had great affinity and affection for France and lived there for many years. Maybe Violette Verdy inspired it the choice of Fauré. I guess emeralds themselves did too, and some persuasion from Nathan Milstein and Claude Arpels. The ballet is very subtle, the steps never blazing, yet there are depths of emotion running through it that sear without shouting. Nothing like it happens again until the great "Diamonds" pas-de-deux. The Paris Opera Ballet excels in Emeralds.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The problem with only having one available recording of a ballet for a long time before another becomes available is that the first inevitably colours one's impressions of succeeding recordings, particularly the case in contemporary storyless ballets whose choreography was created recently enough so as not to have been tampered with too much. Balanchine of course was famous for modifying or recreating choreography many of his own ballets to suit the talents, accommodate the limitations and highlight unique attributes of individual dancers. NYCB ballerina Merrill Ashley described Balanchine's impromptu re-choreographing like pulling change out of his front pocket.

So it is that the Mariinsky recording of their Jewels stands in striking relief to the POB's and the comparisons to the former are not always favorable.

First there's the matter of the zany, wacky, fish-eye camera work that is a tremendous distraction and in no way flatters any of the dancers. Second, the Karinska tutus in Diamonds are a blight on any audience, and remain unassailable proof that since its founding, no one in NYCB's wardrobe department has ever figured out how to cut a tutu. There was certainly no reason for the Mariinsky to have carried them over wholesale. On this score, the glistening Christian Lacroix tutus in POB's Diamonds win by a mile.

I had always loved Zhanna Ayupova's dancing so I was a little disappointed that her Violette Verdy solo came off a little flat, highlighting the inflexible and turgid pointe work that seems to be the hallmark of the Mariinski and the Bolshoi. And surprisingly, Ayupova also missed the ravishing arms and ecstatic , swooning back ends on the diagonal that Laetitia Pujols brought to the solo.
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