Review of Jerome Robbins bio
Posted 04 July 2001 - 02:15 PM
Posted 04 July 2001 - 02:32 PM
Posted 04 July 2001 - 03:19 PM
The New Republic review spends a few paragraphs panning the book, which is sort of fun, but I was most interested in Homans' suggestion that the trouble with Robbins' later ballets ("A Suite of Dances," "Brandenburg," etc.) was not (as some have argued) that he was trying to imitate Balanchine, but rather that after "Dances at a Gathering," "Robbins' fascination for unvarnished movement had led him to an excruciating dead end." The exquisite craftsmanship and easy style you see in his best ballets became, in the 1980s, merely predictable. Homans writes: "There wasn't enough texture, grit, life." I too have been perplexed watching ballets like "Brandenburg," feeling that while they're all nice enough, the payoff is minimal.
That said, and this is another of Homans' observations, the NYCB dancers seem to relax in Robbins ballets in a way they can't anymore in Balanchine works, which demand a sort of sponaneity and freedom that's hard to come by in that company today. The Robbins ballets are better danced, Homans argues, because "Robbins sewed the instructions into the lining" (referring to his rigorous planning of every step, etc.) She seems to be suggesting that Robbins ballets are not "living organisms" in the way that Balanchine ballets are, and so they don't require so much in the way of vigorous, independent risk-taking (which, she suggests, doesn't much exist anymore at City Ballet).
It's an interesting argument, and I'd be curious to hear what others think about it.
Posted 04 July 2001 - 04:34 PM
Posted 04 July 2001 - 04:40 PM
I'm going to extract a bit of your post about the current state of the Robbins and Balanchine rep (and the dancers) and make it into a discussion topic of its own.
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