Review: Jewels, The Bolshoi Ballet, QPAC (QLD)

A showcase of grace, splendour and exceptional athleticism from the renowned Russian company as part of the QPAC International Series.
Review: Jewels, The Bolshoi Ballet, QPAC (QLD)

Anastasia Denisova & David Motta Soares in the Bolshoi's Jewels at QPAC. Photo credit: Darren Thomas.

This triple-bill by renowned Russian company the Bolshoi Ballet is the latest in the QPAC International Series, an annual presentation of the world’s best ballet companies which began in 2009. This is the second International Series appearance by the Bolshoi, who were previously presented at QPAC in 2013. Another Bolshoi favourite, Spartacus, is also presented as part of the company's current tour.


A showcase of grace, splendour and exceptional athleticism, Jewels comprises a trinity of ballets of varying styles, each performed to the work of a different composer. It is, as I understand it, the first truly abstract ballet among the signature works of the Bolshoi.

Performances, sets and costumes were outstanding, seamless and unforgettable. The Queensland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Pavel Sorokin, accompanied the Bolshoi for this performance of ballet at its finest.

Conceived by George Balanchine and inspired by his visit to the jewellers Van Cleef & Arpels in New York City, each act of Jewels reflects the qualities of a different precious gem.

Beginning with Emeralds, set to music by Gabriel Faure, the first act tempered a graceful splendour with sensuous romantic movements and costumes. Highlights included two beautiful duets from dancers Anastasia Denisova, Ksenia Zhiganshina, David Motta Soares and Fuad Mamedov. The pas de trois was breathtaking and a sequence featuring the group of dancers configuring a kind of mandala in movement was poetic and drew admiration from the audience. Elegant costumes, including romantic flowing tutus in emerald and white, glittered with diamantes.

Ruby followed after an interval and involved spritely, energetic and flirtatious choreography. Like the early throes of adolescent love, this piece was enticing, playful and uplifting. Cheeky hip thrusts and passionate leaps imbued the work with jazz-like textural hues. Lively spins by the male dancers at the crescendo quickened the heart and offered amazing visuals. Here, music by Igor Stravinsky fuelled the dance. The eloquent piano solo by Alexey Melentiev enhanced the experience.   

Diamonds showcased everything one could hope for in a classical ballet. Stunning sequences from the leading couple, Alena Kovaleva and Jacopo Tissi, took our breath away. The ensemble of soloists filled the stage with dexterity, strength and beauty, providing everything one might wish to experience in the genre. Here we found a maturity and a kind of philosophic love in the movements. Featured soloists increased the intensity by filling the stage in all their glory, rising to an exhilarating crescendo, all ivory and white diamond splendour against a night sky backdrop. The audience rose in a standing ovation at the end of this unmissable experience.

With the Bolshoi, as an audience we reach the summit of perfection.

Five stars: ★★★★★

The Bolshoi Ballet
Choreography By George Balanchine © The George Balanchine Trust
Teachers-Repetiteurs: Sandra Jennings, Merrill Ashley, Paul Boos
Set Designer: Alyona Pikalova
Costume Designer: Elena Zaitseva
Music Director: Pavel Sorokin
Emeralds performed to music by Gabriel Fauré
Rubies featured music by Igor Stravinsky
Diamonds performed to music by Pyotr Tchaikovsky

Lyric Theatre, QPAC, Brisbane
29-30 June and 2-3 July 2019

Sally Peters

Tuesday 2 July, 2019

About the author

Sally Peters is a freelance writer currently residing in Brisbane.