NYCB's Teresa Reichlen on the Challenges of Dancing "Rubies"
George Balanchine’s glamorous three-act Jewels celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Three New York City Ballet stars share their insights on their signature roles in “Emeralds,” “Rubies,” and “Diamonds.” Here’s Teresa Reichlen on “Rubies.”
The soloist in “Rubies” has been one of my favorite roles since the first time I danced it. I was in the corps then and it was one of my first big parts. It’s so powerful and freeing. My favorite moment is when I come straight down center towards the audience, doing these sort of strutting walks on pointe. You’re not playing to anyone else onstage. You’re playing straight to the house. And the section with the four boys is really unusual; it’s not often that a woman is onstage with four men, but she’s still the one in charge. When I’m doing the penchés going offstage at the end of the first movement, I try to be calm and hope that the audience can’t tell I’m trembling inside, or that my supporting leg is wobbling.
Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.
I’ve done the part so much now that I actually rehearse it very little, to try to keep it fresh. My new approach is to try to make it different every time. It depends on my mood that day, my energy level, who else is onstage with me. I’ll pick a little inspiration and see how that goes. So many of the roles that we do at NYCB are iconic to their originators and, in a way, you do want to emulate them, but in other ways you don’t. My goal has always been to make the role unique, so it’s really an honor when other people say I’ve made it my own.
I think the spirit of “Rubies” is what makes it so special. The jazzy, syncopated music makes it playful but also fiendishly challenging for everyone onstage. What’s bizarre is that I have a really hard time watching other people dance it. I get jealous because I want to be out there performing it myself!