Following an incredible 40th anniversary gala May 5 that served as its Smith Center debut, esteemed local troupe Nevada Ballet Theatre will kick off its first season on the Center’s new stage with a history-making George Balanchine program. The company, along with two guest companies, Pacific Northwest Ballet and Ballet West, will perform Jewels in its entirety. It is the very first time three different companies have performed the ballet on one stage since its 1967 debut.
Jewels is a long-awaited labor of love for Nevada Ballet Theatre’s CEO and Executive Director Beth Barbre, the brains behind bringing the masterpiece to Las Vegas in such a historic way. Barbre planted the seed long ago—in 2006, when she moved to Las Vegas—using her connections to the Balanchine Trust (she was its former administrator in New York City—Balanchine is of course the founder of the New York City Ballet). The Trust has stringent specifications on its ballets, so getting Jewels from creation to the stage took special permission.
I knew we were getting this amazing performing arts center, the Smith Center, which is really our new jewel,” she says. “What better tribute than to perform Balanchine’s Jewels?”
Appropriately, this production is being sponsored by Van Cleef & Arpels (which boasts two boutiques in town), as the entire Jewels ballet was inspired by one of Balanchine’s trips to the luxe jewelry store in the early ’60s.
Jewels will begin with Ballet West dancing Emeralds, with music by Gabriel Fauré. Nevada Ballet, the smallest of the three companies, will perform the jazzy, America-inspired Rubies, with music by Igor Stravinsky. The finale comes in Diamonds, set to the sounds of ballet favorite Pyotr Tchaikovsky, and will be executed by Pacific Northwest Ballet, which is also celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
“It was really a nice symmetry, especially because the companies are all in the western part of the country,” Barbre says. “It’s never been done before, so it’s certainly gotten a lot of attention from the Balanchine Trust.”
Barbre says to expect several “wow” moments in Rubies, especially the central pas de deux and the tour de force female solo: “It’s one of those bravura, exciting roles.”
Jewels will be performed October 13 and 14 at Reynolds Hall at the Smith Center, 702-749-2000