This winter, Jewels reappeared in New York City Ballet repertory the way it does every few years, like a mirage of overwhelming majesty, a floating castle set amid fairy forests and ancient icecaps, a castle guarding its secrets.[1] The night before the first performance, NYCB held a seminar on Jewels for its Guild members. Dancers from the ballet’s premiere on April 13, 1967—Conrad Ludlow, Suki Schorer, and Edward Villella —were onstage to speak about that night, those steps, the rehearsals, and, of course, the ballet’s choreographer, George Balanchine. The moderator, Francis Mason, began by explaining that Balanchine had a PR angle when he conceived Jewels: he thought Van Cleef & Arpels might foot the bill (lo, City Ballet got not a sou). It was also to be just one ballet, but when Balanchine began working, his idea grew, and...


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