Under the leadership of Peter Martins, New York City Ballet has become a laboratory for developing talent. Several of these dancers probably would never have been hired by Balanchine because they do not conform to his physical ideal. Martins’ dancers are diverse and beautiful and they are a large part of why I love this company more now than ever before. Nowadays, no matter which cast of a ballet you see, the talent is abundant and often thrilling. On any given night you can see a truly inspiring performance that you will remember for years to come. Last night it was Megan Fairchild and Joaquin De Luz holding forth in Rubies’ second cast with star power that rivalled Patricia McBride and Edward Villella who were the first to dance the roles. De Luz, with his taut energy and palpable masculinity, was a joy to watch. You felt that the stage was too small when he took off running. He carried the audience along with him on his circuits around the stage. Fairchild was brilliant. She moved with such clarity and passion, blending jazzy and balletic technique with equal flair and bravura. She turned in and turned out, jumped and turned. She was fast, fearless, ferocious. These two have one of the most balanced partnerships there is at City Ballet and they lit up the stage. Savannah Lowery, not normally one of my favorite dancers, was radiant in her solos. She put out more energy than I’ve ever seen from her. Whatever she’s doing, I hope she continues to do it because it’s working in her favor. On this night, Rubies should have closed the show. It was that good.

NYCB in George Balanchine's <i>Jewels</i> © Paul Kolnik
NYCB in George Balanchine's Jewels
© Paul Kolnik

Emeralds, the first ballet of the night, was less compelling. Fauré’s music is more gentle and pastoral and it is simply less exciting than Rubies or Diamonds. Abi Stafford and Jared Angle look thoroughly comfortable together. Stafford was limpid and exuded sweetness. They were fluid, secure and winsome as a pair. Ashley Laracey and Adrian Danchig-Waring, the second lead pair, were, on the whole, better to my way of thinking. These two were pure elegance in motion. Danchig-Waring has the ability to trail his partner’s port de bras to create an extra level of rubato that is subtle but wondrous. Laracey has a glitter to her that works well with Danchig-Waring’s coolness. You could imagine this pair doing anything in the company’s repertoire. Harrison Ball is coming along nicely and was self-assured with Sara Adams and Meagan Mann in the soloist roles. Emeralds, with its grace and charm, served well as a warm up for what followed.

Diamonds closed the show with its trademark clarity and brilliance and Teresa Reichlen was up to the job. This is the piece that acknowledges the debt that classical ballet owes to Imperial Russia. The role of the lead ballerina is tremendously challenging. It’s not so much that it’s really difficult steps, though some of them are. Mostly it’s because she has to sustain that level of effortless perfection over such a long period of time. Reichlen is an outstanding dancer and her solo work here was up to her usual standards but the partnering was not. Russel Janzen looked like he was struggling to find the right place to be and looking for Reichlen’s hands to lend her support. There are so many hand changes in their partnering and changes of direction that it’s easy for it all to go amiss. It wasn’t awful and nothing bad happened because of a missed grip but it wasn’t beautiful either. Fortunately, there is always the grand procession of the whole company on stage for the ending coda which is vintage Tchaikovsky and Balanchine. It’s such a satisfying climax that you’re willing to forget any slip ups that preceded it.

NYCB in George Balanchine's <i>Jewels</i> © Paul Kolnik
NYCB in George Balanchine's Jewels
© Paul Kolnik

George Balanchine's Jewels program is one of those can’t miss nights at New York City Ballet. It has something for everyone and leaves you with the certainty that you have gotten your money’s worth. It’s everything that ballet is supposed to be and a little more. It genuflects to its Russian heritage with Diamonds. It wistfully recalls its Romantic past with Emeralds. Rubies reminds us that ballet is also very much about today with its contemporary verve. On this night it was tutus and tiaras for everyone.

***11