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Ballet’s Brilliance: A Confluence of Talent in Historic Jewels Production

The upcoming presentation of Jewels, culminating Kansas City Ballet’s 2023-2024 season, holds immense significance beyond marking the Company’s premiere of all three pieces of one of  George Balanchine’s few full-length ballets.

The historic ballet run symbolizes a unique coming together of internal and external artistic talents, many of whom have collaborated on Jewels and other Balanchine ballets before.

Carney: A Rubies Reunion

KCB Artistic Director Devon Carney’s repertoire as a professional dancer notably includes a lead role in Rubies, the second of Jewels’ three acts.

Devon performed in Rubies multiple times while a principal dancer with Boston Ballet.

Victoria Simon, the same Balanchine répétiteur (or stager) who worked with Devon on Rubies for Boston Ballet, collaborated with the KCB team this spring to teach the choreography of Rubies for its full-length Jewels debut.

“We are incredibly fortunate to have someone of Victoria’s caliber helping us stage Rubies,” says Devon. “With her meticulous attention to detail and her unwavering focus on musicality, she stands as one of the most sought-after and revered interpreters of George Balanchine’s masterworks.”

A former dancer with New York City Ballet, Victoria has been a top stager of Balanchine’s works since 1965 when Balanchine personally selected her to re-stage his ballets. At the time, the famed choreographer had become too busy creating new ballets to have the time to teach his choreography to other companies.

Today, stagers in ballet play a crucial role in bringing a production to life, teaching choreography and making any adaptations necessary so that the choreography will work with available dancers while maintaining the integrity of the choreographer’s intent.

Devon Carney, Victoria Simon, Kristi Capps and Christopher Ruud

Victoria is excited to collaborate with Devon again to stage Rubies for the Company’s premiere of Jewels. She finds the experience particularly meaningful due to the chance to reconnect with other KCB artistic colleagues, including Rehearsal Director Kristi Capps and Second Company Manager and Rehearsal Director Christopher Ruud.

Additionally, Victoria views this occasion as another opportunity to engage with fellow Balanchine ballet experts, Deborah Wingert (Diamonds) and Jenifer Ringer (Emeralds), who have also been actively working with the KCB team.

Capps: Working With an Icon on Iconic Ballets

Before joining KCB, Kristi Capps enjoyed a successful career as a dancer with the Atlanta Ballet and Cincinnati Ballet.

Rising quickly through the ranks to take on principal roles, Kristi delighted audiences performing many Balanchine ballets, including Scotch Symphony, Who Cares?, Serenade, and The Four Temperaments.

Kristi worked with Victoria Simon during the staging of each of these ballets and describes her as an iconic stager of Balanchine’s works.

“The depth of Balanchine knowledge and repertoire that she possesses is truly remarkable,” Kristi reflects. “It’s a privilege to share space with her, whether as a dancer or in my current capacity.”

Kristi emphasizes the critical role of a stager in ensuring the success of a ballet performance.

“A stager essentially provides the blueprint and guides you through its interpretation,” she explains.

Ruud: Protecting the Authenticity of Balanchine

Christopher Ruud spent 21 years with Ballet West, 16 of which as a principal dancer.

During this time, he danced in several Balanchine ballets that Victoria Simon staged on Ballet West, including Agon, Serenade, Square Dance, and Stars & Stripes.

“The first thing you notice is that she is absolutely meticulous about protecting and conveying the authenticity of a Balanchine ballet in its purest form,” says Christopher. “Working with Victoria is incredibly rewarding because by the end of the process, you truly understand the essence of the ballet.”

Christopher echoes his KCB colleagues in emphasizing the importance of a stager in recreating a Balanchine ballet such as Jewels.

“A stager is the voice and soul of the choreographer when they are not present in the studio, ensuring the piece becomes what it was truly meant to be,” he asserts.

Steps, Style, Placement and Jewels

Victoria has been a consistent collaborator with KCB over the years, having staged ballets under former KCB artistic directors Todd Bolender and Bill Whitener.

Representing The George Balanchine Trust, whose mission it is to protect the integrity and the copyrights of Balanchine’s work, Victoria has staged over 25 different Balanchine ballets for more than 80 companies worldwide.

When discussing her latest collaboration with KCB, Victoria expresses enthusiasm: “The dancers have the opportunity to delve into Rubies while also gaining insights into Balanchine’s vision and the overarching inspiration behind Jewels.”

Victoria highlights Jewels uniqueness as a Balanchine ballet, noting its incorporation of classical, contemporary and romantic elements.

“Kansas City Ballet’s embrace of diverse dance styles allows its dancers to fully explore Jewels, showcasing various facets of themselves alongside Balanchine’s brilliance,” she explains.


Hear directly from Victoria Simon, along with KCB dancers and fellow Jewels stagers, about the enduring appeal of Jewels. 

What is Jewels Full from Kansas City Ballet on Vimeo.


Top photo courtesy of Devon Carney with Leslie Jonas dancing in the Rubies section of George Balanchine’s Jewels at Boston Ballet.

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