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When Kansas City Ballet performs George Balanchine‘s Jewels at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, May 10, 2024, it will mark a major first for the Company. Watch this video to get a feel for this incredible and beautiful ballet, then read on to learn more fun facts.

What IS George Balanchine’s Jewels?

10 Fun Facts and More!

  1. This year, Kansas City Ballet is uniting all three pieces of JewelsEmeralds, Rubies and Diamonds – in one full-length ballet for the first time in its history. The Company previously presented Diamonds during the Ballet’s 60th anniversary celebration, and Rubies almost a decade earlier.


  1. Jewels is considered the first full-length abstract ballet because it doesn’t follow a traditional narrative, but instead focuses on movement, music, and visual aesthetics. When the curtain first rose at New York City Ballet on co-founder and founding choreographer George Balanchine’s newest work, it had no unifying title other than “World Premiere.”


  1. Balanchine’s creation of Jewels was inspired, in part, by his introduction to renowned jeweler Claude Arpels, whose collection of precious stones he admired. For a time, Balanchine is said to have considered a fourth section, Sapphires, but decided the color wouldn’t translate well onto stage. The story of Van Cleef & Arpels Ballerinas


  1. The original cast of Jewels featured many iconic names from New York City Ballet when it premiered in 1967: Violette Verdy, Sara Leland, Suki Schorer, Conrad Ludlow, and Francisco Moncion (Emeralds); Patricia McBride, Patricia Neary, and Edward Villella (Rubies); and Suzanne Farrell and Jacques d’Amboise (Diamonds).


  1. Fifty-seven years after its premiere, Jewels is highly revered internationally, and many companies include it in their repertoires. In 2017, an international production of Jewels, which brought together New York City Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet and the Paris Opera Ballet, was performed at Lincoln Center to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Balanchine’s masterpiece. In 2023, New York City Ballet kicked off its 75th anniversary season with Jewels.


  1. The costumes for Jewels were created by Balanchine’s long-time New York City Ballet collaborator Barbara Karinska, who also designed costumes for Hollywood and won an Oscar in 1948 for Joan of Arc starring Ingrid Bergman.


  1. The Ukrainian-born Karinska is credited with devising the “powder puff” tutu, which features a shorter skirt and layers tacked together for a fluffier appearance than the “pancake” tutu. This tutu design, known as the American tutu, has become the standard in ballet companies all over the world since it first appeared in 1950.


  1. Victoria Simon, the stager for Rubies for Kansas City Ballet, was one of the first dancers personally selected by Balanchine to re-stage his ballets when the famed choreographer had become too busy making new works that he no longer had time to set them on other companies.

  1. The stager for this year’s Diamonds for Kansas City Ballet, Deborah Wingert, is another one of a small group of artists selected and retained by the George Balanchine Trust to set his choreography. She also danced under Balanchine for New York City Ballet, where she danced for 15 years after joining the company at the age of 16.

  1. Jenifer Ringer, who staged Emeralds for Kansas City Ballet, is another veteran New York City Ballet dancer entrusted with recreating Balanchine’s masterworks. She has a long relationship with Emeralds, having danced both in the corps de ballet and as a principal in the ballet for several years. Jenifer also has experience dancing in the corps de ballet for both Rubies and Diamonds.

There’s still time to watch KCB history in the making. Click here for tickets.


Header Photo: Kansas City Ballet Dancers Kaleena Burks, Amaya Rodriguez and Taryn Pachciarz. Photography by Kenny Johnson.

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