by bobbie katz

Las Vegas’ notorious desert sun aside, Sept. 13 marked a shining moment in the history of Nevada Ballet Theatre. Gathered at Jeff White Custom Jewelry in Tivoli Village, invited VIP members of the community voiced their approval as a gleaming commemorative pendant celebrating the ballet company’s 45th season in Las Vegas, was unveiled. The pendant, which was produced by White with artwork by legendary ballerina Cynthia Gregory, was created in four variations: gold, sterling silver, rose gold and customized with precious gems.

All proceeds from the sale of the piece, which features the image of a dancer in midair, benefits NBT’s artistic and educational mission. For Gregory, acclaimed as one of the world’s greatest ballerinas during a career that spanned more than a quarter of a century and whom Rudolf Nureyev called “America’s prima ballerina assoluta,” the disc-shaped adornment also bodes deep in a personal sense. It reflects her very heart and soul, as well as the fact that her leap into designing the pendant has brought her incredible career to a true “what goes around comes around” moment, literally and figuratively.

“I danced my very first Odette/Odile role in Swan Lake in San Francisco with the American Ballet Theatre when I was 20,” explained Gregory, who was de ned by that role and has been an artistic coach for NBT since 2010. “My favorite aunt gave me a keepsake gold disc pendant to commemorate that date, April 11, 1967.

“With Swan Lake being the centerpiece of NBT’s 2016–

2017 anniversary season, I will be staging the entire ballet, which will be presented in February 2017; and (with) this commemorative disc pendant debuting 50 years later, my career has come full circle.”

When NBT partnered with Jeff White Custom Jewelry to produce the disc, Gregory was the first person they thought of to help create it. Although she has become known for her pen-and-ink and watercolor art, this was her first attempt at jewelry designing. Still, there could be no one better to portray the elegance, beauty

and grace of dance than the prima ballerina who had performed in more than 80 works during her 26 years with the world- renowned American Ballet Theatre. She also danced with Nureyev in his version of Swan Lake in Vienna, Austria, as well as with the other great male dancers of her time.

“I wanted to show the lines of a dancer and the joy of dance,” Gregory said about her inspiration for the piece. “I didn’t want to do full- edged flesh, but rather a lot of lines with some detail. I have always drawn dancers that can give a feeling of movement in my art. This piece reflects what I felt when I danced — like flying through the air.”

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