Back in 1961, Claude Arpels, a descendant of one of the two families that founded the famous French jewelry house of Van Cleef & Arpels, was introduced to the choreographer and co-founder of the New York City Ballet, George Balanchine. While the Arpels dynasty had a longstanding appreciation for the art form—the maison even designed glittering brooches in the form of ballerinas back in the 1940s—it was this meeting that would solidify the relationship between the brand and the world of dance. Later that year, Balanchine went on to produce Jewels: a lavish ballet set to the music of Stravinsky, Fauré, and Tchaikovsky honoring the shimmering, seductive appeal of the house’s most extravagant pieces.
Now, in London, that heritage is being honored once again, albeit in a radically new form. With the two-week festival Dance Reflections, Van Cleef & Arpels is spotlighting the output of postmodern titans alongside an array of contemporary works bringing those traditions into the 21st century, all produced by some of the most cutting-edge choreographers of the moment. The entire program was curated by Serge Laurent, recruited from the Centre Pompidou in 2019 to be the house’s dance and cultural program manager as part of their increasing commitment to supporting the world of dance. “It embodies our commitment to showcasing and sharing the legacy of dance and contemporary creation with the broadest possible audience,” says Laurent of the festival, which is open to the public and runs until March 23rd.
The performances are being held at a trio of London’s most venerated cultural institutions: the Royal Opera House, with its rich tradition of classical ballet; Sadler’s Wells, a historic theater in the city’s Islington neighborhood known for commissioning and platforming agenda-setting dance; and the Tate Modern, the gargantuan modern art gallery with a singularly progressive approach to programming and collecting dance pieces. But the attitude is clearly one of accessibility, with both Laurent and the house’s president and CEO, Nicolas Bos, emphasizing that the project should “appeal to a large audience.”