Jewels Stolen from Pacific Northwest Ballet Stage
Audiences report that the gemstones were swiped right off the stage in the middle of performances over the weekend. Ballerina Angelica Generosa is considered the prima suspect.
According to legend, when George Balanchine was asked what “Rubies” was about, he replied that the Jewels centerpiece was “about 20 minutes.” Jewels was the first full-length non-narrative ballet, debuting in 1967.
The ballet has been a favorite with audiences and dancers ever since. Like 4 T’s, Jewels’ component pieces differ enough from each other to offer something for everybody. Freed from the props and mime that weigh down traditional story ballet, the themes are yet strong enough that no one walks away wondering, “What the hell was that?”
“Rubies” is the most modern of the three gems. Exemplifying the qualities of modern American ballet introduced by Balanchine himself, “Rubies” draws on jazz and other forms of dance, and use movements that are not “dance steps” at all. The dancers in their red fringed leotards playfully reference Hollywood stars and movie poster poses. Although principal Lindsi Dec danced beautifully as always, the real star of the show was corps de ballet member Angelica Generosa, who had amazing chemistry in the pas de deux with James Moore (to be fair, everyone seems to have amazing chemistry when they dance with James Moore).
I have to confess that I have never really noticed Generosa before, although she has performed with Pacific Northwest Ballet since 2011. She is not in the first part of Jewels, “Emeralds.” An elegant, flowing example of the Romantic French ballet tradition, “Emeralds” was all long tutus and expressive emotions.
In “Rubies,” Generosa exploded on the stage, a tiny dynamo embodying the brash American spirit who expressed more with a raised eyebrow and a wink than many dancers do with their whole bodies. She was all kinds of adjectives not usually associated with ballet – sassy, saucy, and flashy – all without sacrificing form or technique.
If audiences had overlooked Generosa before, this weekend everyone noticed her. At the intermission the halls were filled with patrons wondering, “Who’s that girl?” And well they might. For a corps member, it was a breakout performance. The last time I was as impressed by a single dancer, it was James Moore on the night his promotion to principal was announced. I will be surprised if Generosa is not promoted to soloist next season. “Rubies” was her chance to shine, and she sparkled brilliantly. It was the perfect role for her.
And yet, for the final piece, the rigidly traditional Russian Imperial-style “Diamonds,” Generosa melted back into the corps. Clad like her compatriots in a cupcake-topper white tutu, she was almost unrecognizable among other dancers in a role that called for conformity over self-expression. “Diamonds” is an exquisitely beautiful ballet, comprised strictly of “ballet steps” in which the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
But even as I enjoyed the stately ensemble performance, I felt like a beat cop talking to a thief, “I’ve got my eye on you, Generosa.” After Jewels, I think a lot of people do.