CLASSICAL REVIEWS: Precious Moments; the Kirov Ballet Birmingham Hippodrome ****
Byline: Susan Turner
The aptly-named Jewels, a glittering array of three diverse ballet styles, three composers, three costume and set changes - and one choreographer, George Balanchine, was the Kirov Ballet's opening offer to Birmingham.
The company was the first in Europe to stage Jewels in its entirety although in reality it is a fake full-length work and more a collection of standalone pieces wrapped up in a gemstone theme.
Emeralds, Rubies, Diamonds - just as their names suggest an increasing value so it is with this plotless ballet. Set to a Faure score, Emeralds is cool, romantic and vaguely mysterious. Balanchine described it as "perhaps the evocation of France, the France of elegance, comfort, dress, perfume."
It is also the least convincing of the trio of trinkets with the least challenging steps and shiny green leotards and dingy net skirts (recreated from Karinska's original designs) that could be from an amateur dance show.
Olesya Novikova and Anastasia Kolegova in the leading female roles both had a captivating youthfulness, however, that suited the mood of the piece and rescued it from bland.
Where Emeralds is serene, Rubies is American bravura. The audience gasped as the curtain rose on strands of giant jewels suspended in air and dancers in short tunics with flippy skirts encrusted in rubies.
This scene is the Balanchine we know best, all quirky-angled arms and legs and off-centred positions set to a Stravinsky score virtually impossible to count.
Balanchine, Russian-born and himself a former Kirov dancer, created Jewels for his New York City Ballet almost 40 years ago. …