The connection between Van Cleef & Arpels and the world of dance dates back to the 20s, when the ballet and opera lover Louis Arpels (one of the brand’s founding brothers) would take his nephew, Claude, to the Opéra Garnier, a stone’s throw from the house’s Place Vendôme boutique.
Jump to the 40’s, and Arpels commissioned the creation of the brand’s first ballerina clips, showcasing the brand’s signature techniques and artistic craftsmanship and featuring graceful dancers. In the years since the clips have become one of the Maison’s signature pieces, recognisable for their elegant construction, gemstones and tutus, crafted in three dimensions and occasionally displaying a delicate openwork.
This year, marking 60 years of The Australian Ballet, the company – helmed by David Hallberg – will present its premier season of George Balanchine’s “Jewels”, supported by Van Cleef & Arpels. A significant work of the 20th-century, “Jewels” was conceived by Balanchine (the co-founder of the New York City Ballet) following his encounter with Claude Arpels, who invited the choreographer to visit the maison’s boutique on Fifth Avenue.
Their artistic relationship inspired the “Jewels”, a non-narrative ballet that was first performed in New York in 1967, and inspired by the glittering creations inside Van Cleef & Arpels’ shop window. The choreography is divided across three distinct acts, each set to the music of three renowned composers: “Emeralds” (scored by Gabriel Fauré), “Rubies” (set to Igor Stravinsky’s “Capriccio”), and “Diamonds” (scored by Tchaikovsky).
In the ensuing decades since its debut, “Jewels” has been interpreted by handful of prominent international companies, including the Ballet de l’Opéra national de Paris, the Mariinsky Theatre Ballet in Saint Petersburg and the Miami City Ballet. It was performed in full in London by the Royal Ballet in 2007, with the support of Van Cleef & Arpels.
The Australian Ballet opened “Jewels” to Sydney audiences in May, and will take the production to the Arts Centre Melbourne from June 29 to July 8, before staging the performance in London from August 2 to 6 at the Royal Opera House.