Jewels (ballet)

Jewels is a three-act ballet created for the New York City Ballet by co-founder and founding choreographer George Balanchine. It premièred on Thursday, 13 April 1967 at the New York State Theater, with sets designed by Peter Harvey and lighting by Ronald Bates.[1]

Jewels has been called the first full-length abstract ballet.[2] It has three related movements: Emeralds, Rubies, and Diamonds (usually separated by intermissions). It can also be seen as three separate ballets, linked by their jewel-colored costumes. Balanchine commented: "The ballet had nothing to do with jewels. The dancers are just dressed like jewels."[3] Each of the three acts features the music of a different composer: Emeralds is set to the music of Gabriel Fauré, Rubies to the music of Igor Stravinsky and Diamonds to music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.[4]


The costumes were created by Balanchine's long-time collaborator Barbara Karinska, who created a distinct look for each different act: romantic, calf-length tulle skirts for Emeralds, fabric that flared at the hips of both men and women in Rubies, and the flat, classical tutu of the Imperial Russian Ballet for Diamonds. The costumes were such finely crafted pieces of art in their own right that some of them have been exhibited in museums and in theatre lobbies. Even Claude Arpels of Van Cleef & Arpels, who suggested the idea of a ballet based on gems to the choreographer, was impressed with her attention to finding the finest trim that would accurately represent the true glitter of genuine gemstones. Additionally, Karinska's painstaking work is credited with making the costumes last despite the sweat and strain of dancing in them. Her designs, needlework and choice in fabrics made them both durable and danceable, illustrating that the bodies inside the costumes were deserving of her utmost respect. When questioned about her attention to her almost extravagant detail she replied, "I sew for girls and boys who make my costumes dance; their bodies deserve my clothes."







At the premiere in Spring 1967, Mimi Paul danced the parts of Sicilienne variation and the Nocturne ("walking") pas de deux in Emeralds. Paul later went on to coach other dancers in the part, including Sara Mearns.[5]

Stagings (other than NYCB)

2017 Royal Danish Ballet


  1. Rubies
  2. Diamonds
  3. Emeralds


  1. John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
  2. Metropolitan Opera Association


  1. Garnier
  2. Ballett des Opernhauses Zurich
  3. closed
  4. East Berlin
  5. Strasbourg, France
  6. Koninklijk Ballet Van Vlaanderen/Royal Flemish Ballet
  7. New York
  8. formerly Fort Worth Dallas Ballet
  9. France
  10. Performing Arts Council of the Transvaal—Johannesburg, South Africa
  11. Berlin
  12. Corpo do Ballo del Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Italy
  13. Japan
  14. Columbus, Ohio


"It is open to doubt whether even George Balanchine has ever created a work in which the inspiration was so sustained, the invention so imaginative or the concept so magnificent as in the three-act ballet that had its world première at the New York State Theater last night." Clive Barnes[7]


In 2008, the Royal Ballet won two Laurence Olivier Awards for their company premiere of Jewels at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. This was the first performance of the full-length ballet by the company, picking up the awards for Best New Dance Production and Outstanding Achievement in Dance. The Olivier Awards are the highest honour in professional British theatre and are equivalent to Broadway's Tony Awards.

DVD recordings


  1. The ballet went officially untitled at the première.
  2. "Jewels". Royal Opera House. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
  3. Nancy Reynolds, Repertory in Review (New York: Dial Press, 1977), p. 247.
  4. Ballet Notes, BalletMet Columbus
  5. "Balanchine Foundation Video Archives: MIMI PAUL coaching the Sicilienne variation and the Nocturne ("walking") Pas de Deux from 'Emeralds'". Retrieved April 4, 2018 via Alexander Street.
  6. "Jewels". Lincoln Center. Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.
  7. NY Times, Friday, April 14, 1967
  8. Balanchine – Jewels / Aurelie Dupont, Alessio Carbone, Marie-Agnès Gillot, Agnes Letestu, Jean-Guillaume Bart, Clairemarie Osta, Kader Belarbi, Paris Opera Ballet: Movies & TV: Mathieu Ganio, Laetitia Pujol, Eleonora Abbagnato, Emmanuel Thibault Nolwenn Daniel
  9. Choreography By Balanchine / Tzigane, Andante from Divertimento No 15, The Four Temperaments, Selections from Jewels, Stravinsky Violin Concerto: Movies & TV: New York City Ballet, George Balanchine, Suzanne Farrell, Merrill Ashley
  10. Mariinsky Ballet and Orchestra, conducted by Tugan Sokhiev, 2011. ASIN: B005HK8KZ0


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