What Happens in Vegas

Behind the scenes as three companies give a historic toast to Balanchine’s "Jewels."
Published in the April/May 2013 issue.

Photography by Jim Lafferty


Everything glitters a bit more in Vegas. To kick off its first season at the city’s new Smith Center for the Performing Arts, Nevada Ballet Theatre didn’t just perform a ballet. It put on the first-ever three-company production of George Balanchine’s Jewels. “Everyone was calling the theater the new jewel box of the city, so I thought, What better way to inaugurate it?” says NBT executive director Beth Barbre. Ballet West performed “Emeralds,” NBT “Rubies” and Pacific Northwest Ballet “Diamonds.” Van Cleef & Arpels sponsored the event—legend has it their jewelry inspired the ballet when Balanchine peeked in a store window. Although Jewels had never before been split among three companies, once the dancers took the stage, the collaboration felt natural. “Each jewel is so different, it can really showcase a company,” says Ballet West principal Christiana Bennett, who performed a lead in “Emeralds.” “We each got to fine-tune the technique and style of our act, really own it. And then all three pieces came together into one massively gorgeous ballet.”

Nevada Ballet Theatre’s Betsy Lucas (front) and Danielle Dyson

Ballet West dancers look on from the wings.

Christiana Bennett in ““Emeralds”

PNB’’s Sarah Pasch leaps through grand allegro in company class. Dancers warmed up together, and peeked in on each other’’s rehearsals—Balanchine répétiteur Elyse Borne worked on ““Diamonds”” and ““Rubies,” and répétiteur Sandra Jennings staged ““Emeralds.””

Ballet West’s Katlyn Addison and Beckanne Sisk stretch onstage.