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Review: JEWELS at Staatsoper Unter Den Linden

Staatsballett Berlin present Balanchine's classic work until April 28

Review: JEWELS at Staatsoper Unter Den Linden Review: JEWELS at Staatsoper Unter Den Linden With the closing months of Staatsballett Berlin's 21/22 season turning its attention to some full length classics including Sleeping Beauty and Onegin, an alternative is offered in the form of George Balachine's plotless ballet, Jewels. It's a celebrated neo-classical work which can be seen in the repertoire of companies across the world. With its dazzling costumes and featuring music from Stravinsky and Tchiakovsky, both traditionalists and contemporary fans can find something to enjoy in its beauty.

As an opener, Emeralds can be a difficult ask for the ensemble of a company, the audience not yet warmed up to the lack of narrative. It's soft and inoffensive but the opulent costumes for both the men and women are easy to be charmed by. Combined with a fine technique, it's very pleasant but this showing lacked some musical flair and excitement. Clotilde Tran, Alizée Sicre and Murilo de Oliveira do well to inject some charisma into the pas de deux but Jenni Schȁferhoff and Soloist Krasina Pavlova fare less well in providing characterisation and atmosphere.

Rubies has a much stronger identity, memorable choreographic motifs and the drama of Stravinsky's strings. Perry Silvey's dramatic red strobes of light create a striking backdrop while Danil Simkin and Evelina Godunova thrill with quick, neat footwork and whip-sharp turns that bring the work to life so vividly. Conversely to Emeralds which feels too wafty and directionless, Rubies is a concise and impactful display which prompts sighs of disappointment when it all too quickly reaches a conclusion.

The evening of course culminates with the regal grandeur of Diamonds. Ballet superstar Polina Semionova (Principal Guest Artist) stands out a mile, so much so it's hard to focus on anyone else. In her glittering, white tutu she is every inch the prima ballerina. Her long and elegant limbs are under precise control, the only dancer of the night to really exhibit stage presence - indeed, she exudes a special aura. Partnered by demi-soloist Alexandre Cagnat the central pas de deux is luxuriously danced, both filling every moment of Tchiakovsky's score. The corps de ballet are mostly used for decorative purposes but are nonetheless well drilled and add an ethereal lightness with their softer lines and more simplistic costumes.

This sparkling assortment from Balanchine was inspired by a Fifth Avenue jeweller, and although the lack of plot can make the work harder to engage with, Jewels is the perfect ballet to allow the dazzle to wash over you. The dramatic components are gradually ramped up and the Staatsballett dance the steps with technical competence but the excitement and necessary glamour is only delivered by those with a deeper understanding of Balanchine's unique choreography, which only comes with experience.

Jewels runs at Staatsoper Unter den Linden until April 28

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