Last Wednesday night I (Melinda) got to go to the dress rehearsal for the ballet! Pacific Northwest Ballet is currently performing George Balanchine’s Jewels, and it’s well worth the effort to go see it, if you live in the area.
Before the ballet, I went to a lecture about the costume designer. Her name was Barbara Karinska, and she was apparently quite the character, in addition to being fabulously good at costume design. She really understood how dancers’ bodies needed to move, and found some innovative ways to let them do so while still keeping the garments close-fitting. However, she was very demanding–to her, getting it right was most important. She didn’t care how often she had to redo it or how expensive the materials were!
Of course, the costumes were fabulous. Which brings me to the ballet itself! First was Emeralds. The ballerinas danced across the stage to music by Faure in gorgeous, knee-length, floaty skirts. It was all very green and wonderful. (I’m putting up the pictures that PNB has online, so you can get a feel for what it was like. ) The music for this was my favorite part, though–it was part of Pelleas et Melisande, I think, and wow! it was terrific! I forget how much better music is live, especially when (as in this case) it’s music for lots of strings and a harp and some flutes.
Then, after an intermission, was Rubies. The music was Stravinsky, and if you’ve ever listened to Stravinsky you’ll probably know it gets a little weird at times, especially if you’re not into modern classical music.
The thing about Rubies, however, was that the choreography and the music lined up beautifully; each made the other make sense! To go with the various little melodies floating about above dissonances, the dancers did moves that weren’t strictly traditional ballet–lots of flexed feet and high kicks, among other things. It was quite the pairing, and very entertaining to watch.
Last was Diamonds. This was the bit you wait for all night, especially if you’re a ballet purist. It was traditional and lovely, filled with amazingly graceful dancing to Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no.3. One of the movements was an incredible pas-de-deux; such fluidity and grace those two dancers had! They had some solos, too. But there was also a pretty large corps de ballet supporting them, and at times you could barely see the stage because there were so many dancers all on at once! It was quite amazing to see them all together.
Here’s the website: www.pnb.org. Jewels is definitely worth seeing if you have the chance!