Saturday, 8 April 2017


Lauren CuthbertsobRoyal Ballet Jewels Royal Opera House
Photo Helen McDonough
© 2017 Helen McDonough, all rights reserved
Reproduced with kind permission of the author

Helen McDonough

The Royal Ballet, Jewels, Royal Opera House, 1 April 2017, 14:00

Last Saturday I went to ROH to see the matinee of Jewels. It was wonderful I really enjoyed it and I came away ever grateful to Mr B for looking in that window at Van Cleef & Arpels in New York 50 years ago and being inspired to create this ballet - one of my all time favourites!

Photo Helen McDonough
© 2017 Helen McDonough, all rights reserved
Reproduced with kind permission of the author

Emeralds was beautiful I really love that piece for its elegant dancing and the gorgeous Faure score which I find so calming. Yasmine Naghdi and Matthew Ball were the main couple and danced like it was second nature to them and not their debut! I thought Yasmine was really beautiful. Itizar Mendizabal did the other lead with the clock-work like arm and leg moves - she was nice but Leanne Benjamin, whom I saw years ago, is the one to get those moves spot on. I really enjoyed watching the corps with all the patterns and intricate weaving in and out that Balanchine so loves.
Photo Helen McDonough
© 2017 Helen McDonough, all rights reservedReproduced with kind permission of the author

In Rubies we had Tierney Heap as the "Tall Girl" - she was very good. The couple was danced by Alexander Campbell and Akane Takada. They were all great. It is such a fun piece and at one point though Tierney ran out of music! She was still dancing but the orchestra had finished the music - Pavel Sorokin conducting perhaps did not have his eye quite on the dancers?! Alexander Campbell had a lot of fun especially where he danced with the male corps being chased by them - he was not quite as fast as Steven McRae with the spins but that is Steven's speciality I think! Akane Takada was a surprise choice for me in Rubies as I thought Emeralds might be more "her". However, she danced beautifully as she always does.

Diamonds on this occasion was my favourite piece it was just stunning. I was mesmerised by it. Lauren Cuthbertson and Vadim Muntagirov danced the lead couple and their grand PDD was just fabulous. The brush of hands, very light touches and regal elegance of their dance was just gorgeous to watch. Vadim has really matured since I last saw him in a major performance and his command of the stage has grown. He did some amazing tours en l'air in a large circle and landed so softly from all his jumps. His partnering of Lauren was always very considerate - a real "danseur noble" as they say! It was such a refreshing change for me to see these 2 dance Diamonds as previously I always seem to have seen Marianela Nunez and Thiago Soares who are good, but I needed a change and yesterday I got it in spades. The corps de ballet were great in Diamonds and the choreography was so wonderful to watch with its complex patterns - all best seen from above as per my seat. It is a credit to all the dancers and repetiteurs that the patterns worked so well - squares, lines, crisscrossing over, circles you name it it is in there - what a genius Mr B was! Then the finale with the crescendo of music was just spine tingling and really left me wanting more. 

For some reason, there was no "red run" at the end of any piece which was a pity, but the applause was enthusiastic for all three pieces. I shall be going to the cinema relay next week to see the main cast, but I would really love to see this cast again, I was so impressed. If you can get a ticket I would highly recommend seeing this run of Jewels as The Royal Ballet seem to be on really good form with lots of the younger dancers coming up and doing really well. The future looks very bright at ROH at the moment!

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