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Miami City Ballet opens season with Balanchine's 'Jewels'

Miami City Ballet opens this season with a performance of George Balanchine’s “Jewels” in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

The choreography evokes precious gems — emeralds, rubies and diamonds. Each part showcases a different international style of ballet and is set to different musical genres. “Emeralds” conjures the romantic lyricism of French ballet and is scored with music by Gabriel Fauré. “Rubies” pays homage to the American Jazz Age with music by Igor Stravinsky. “Diamonds” evokes grand 19th Century Russian ballet with music by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.

First performed on Aug. 13, 1967, with the New York City Ballet, this is the first time Miami City Ballet has staged the piece in a decade.

Brazilian-born soloist Jovani Furlan, who will dance a principal role in “Diamonds,” spoke with us about “Jewels.”

How do you think this ballet will resonate with South Florida audiences today?

I think there are so many things, but I think most of all the contrast between the three of them, each a different color palette, three different composers — from a soft melody with ‘Emeralds,’ then jazzy and punchy with ‘Rubies,’ and then more traditional and imperial ballet with ‘Diamond.’ I think it’s a combination of a lot of things, but mainly the contrast between the jewels.

What has been the greatest challenge during rehearsals?

I think it’s just such an iconic part. So many dancers that I admire have danced it. And looking up to Balanchine...it’s just such an honor. And I think the pressure I put on myself. It’s such an iconic role. I just have to trust in myself that I can do it. Growing up watching Balanchine, in Brazil we don’t really have that culture. We do have ballet, but not Balanchine. It never crossed my mind that I would even be doing it. Now I am.

Why is “Jewels” returning to Miami City Ballet’s repertoire now after 10 years?

One, it’s a great ballet. It’s the 50th anniversary for when ‘Jewels’ was choreographed. A bunch of companies are doing it. It’s being celebrated all over the country [and] pretty much every major company is doing it. And it’s timeless. It’s like so moving in the music, so beautiful.

Is there something you’d like to tell the audience about “Jewels,” maybe a nuance they may miss?

I would say pay attention to the formations of the corps de ballet. It’s really like jewelry from the moment when the curtain rises. I’ve seen a lot of video, but I never noticed before. You see a lot of shapes that resemble, like a necklace in a case or a bracelet being put on the [display] or something like that. I would tell them that. And how [Balanchine] plays with the music. He plays with the musicality a lot, especially ‘Rubies.’ All over, with all three. It’s very powerful and very striking, the choreography.

Miami City Ballet Program One: “Jewels” runs Oct. 20-Nov. 19 throughout South Florida. Tickets are $25-$195. To order, call 877-929-7010 or go to MiamiCityBallet.org.

Oct. 20-22 at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. To order tickets, call 877-949-6722 or go to ArshtCenter.org.

Oct. 28-29 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Showtimes are 8 p..m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday. To order tickets, call 954-462-0222 or go to BrowardCenter.org.

Nov. 17-19 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m. matinee Sunday. To order tickets, call 561-832-7469 or go to Kravis.org.

rhagwood@southflorida.com

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