ViolinConcerto

New Book about an NYCB corps member-- and Jerome Robbins

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FYI: One can easily find Barbara Bocher's work address in the epilogue of her book.

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I think it is a pathetic and archaic notion to think that a choreographer or artist in general must be a screaming maniac in order to choreograph, paint or compose. Robbins abused his authority; it is as simple as that. It should not have mattered that Bocher was young, sheltered or not able to tough it out. I think it's sad that many people still think Robbins' behavior was acceptable or justifiable in the name of his art.

Nowadays "are you tough enough to take it" wouldn't be an issue because it would be harder for Robbins to get away with the worst of his abuses. I tend to dislike the use of such terms as "toughing it out" in this context because it implies that dancers or other subordinates unwilling to take abuse or coming forward to complain about it are lacking in intestinal fortitude.

In the PBS documentary you didn't find most of the interviewees, whether from Broadway or ballet, saying his behavior was all right or an artist's prerogative. I think the summary from many was that "he was awful but he was worth it."

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I just got to this and consumed it over two days. The writing style was a bit overblown, but I found it energetic and engrossing, and the people she writes about spring to life vividly. What was impressive is that in a career that lasted from when she was 14 to 18, she was immensely curious and took advantage of all of the culture around her when the company was on tour, whether she was followed by a chaperone or was out on her own navigating Italy without speaking the language. She was no bun head.

I wonder what would have happened had she taken the opportunity to dance at La Scala instead of returning to NYC. That seemed to be the experience that changed her views about Balanchine's choreography and the way dancers were treated.

In addition to the abuse she suffered by Robbins, she also describes how he intimidated her into spending many hours after hours in the studio, including teaching him the monster choreography that Balanchine did for "Firebird," which she writes Robbins took and used in one of his Broadway shows. (She thought she was working with him on something for the company.)

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