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Jewels review at Royal Opera House, London – ‘sparkling and sublime’

Scene from Jewels at Royal Opera House, London. Photo: Tristram Kenton

It’s a decade since Jewels first entered the Royal Ballet’s repertoire as a full work and, in the year that sees the 50th anniversary of Balanchine’s sparkling trio of one-act ballets, the company shine.

Emeralds, the opening piece, is incredibly elegant. In tutus, the dancers gather in small formations that echo the geometric shapes of the gems that inspired these works.

Stately, classical steps are softened by the work’s romantic style and the dancers luxuriate in their movement, reflecting the fluent, delicate melody of Faure’s score. Combined with the emerald hues of the set and costumes, it’s easy to imagine the woodland glades of a Romantic era ballet.

Rubies is Balanchine’s ode to American dance. Parallel pony trots, over-straightened legs and coquettishly tipped pelvises bring to mind lines of Broadway chorus girls as the company flirt through the deceptively difficult choreography.

Sarah Lamb, Steven McRae and Melissa Hamilton embrace the work’s virtuosic opportunities, Lamb and Hamilton exhibiting their equal ability for endless extensions and McRae for flying leaps and turns.

Diamonds provides the dazzling conclusion. Set to Tchaikovsky’s regal Third Symphony, Balanchine’s choreography echoes the traditions of the great classical ballets and Marianela Nunez draws these together; swan, princess and goddess at once.

Natural and remarkably at ease, she radiates a sense of pure enjoyment. Her pas de deux with Thiago Soares offers a dreamy, delicate interlude before the work shimmers back into life for a richly textured finale.

The company’s movement is majestic and impeccably timed. It’s an apt end to a suite that has it all – soft romanticism, showy virtuosity and this final, glimmering ode to the grandeur of classical ballet.

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Sublime, sophisticated interpretation of Balanchine’s sparkling triptych