The haute joaillerie house Van Cleef & Arpels has a long history of supporting dance, since Louis Arpels attended the Paris Opera Ballet in the 1920s. In the 1940s, the company began producing jewel-encrusted ballerina clips. When Claude Arpels met George Balanchine in 1961, it led to the New York City Ballet’s first abstract full-length ballet, “Jewels,” in 1967. Since 2012, the house has sponsored the L.A. Dance Project, and, in 2015, they began awarding the Fedora–Van Cleef & Arpels Prize for Ballet. Winners include Alexei Ratmansky, William Forsythe, and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. So it was fitting that VC&A commissioned a new dance to be performed during its second annual Fifth Avenue Blooms festival, an outdoor celebration of spring running along NYC’s Fifth Ave from 50th-59th Street throughout the month of May. What was less fitting was the choice of downtown experimentalist choreographer Pam Tanowitz to headline this floral-festooned uptown stretch of consumerism—and the incongruity was a delight.
One way to get to know the history of a company is through the “liner notes” of its “Swan Lake” production, and for those of us continuing to build an admiring familiarity with Pacific Northwest Ballet via its digital season offerings, Kent Stowell and Francia Russell’s “Swan Lake” provides an interesting glimpse into PNB prior to Peter Boal’s leadership.FREE ARTICLE