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Jerome Robbins Centennial

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A few weeks ago the Kennedy Center presented "DEMO: Jerome Robbins- An American Dance Genius" by Damien Woetzel, with Tiler Peck and Heather Watts. 


Rebecca King Ferraro and Michael Breeden interviewed Woetzel and Peck about the program and dancing Robbins for their podcast "Conversations on Dance":


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Here's Part 1 of the latest press release from the Robbins Foundation, and it has heaps of info:





(New York, NY. November 8– 2017) Jerome Robbins, world renowned for his work as a choreographer and director of ballet and theater, film and television, would have been 100 years old on October 11, 2018.  In honor of his life and legacy, The Jerome Robbins Foundation, partnering with other institutions across the country and around the world, will celebrate his centennial year through Spring 2019.


Robbins – recipient of dozens of awards and honors including an Oscar, four Tony awards, and one Emmy award among others – choreographed and/or directed many Broadway shows including: On the TownBillion Dollar BabyWest Side StoryThe King and IGypsyPeter PanMiss LibertyCall Me Madam, and Fiddler on the Roof. His last Broadway production in 1989, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, won six Tony Awards including best musical and best director. 


Among the more than 60 ballets Robbins created are Fancy FreeAfternoon of a FaunThe ConcertDances At a GatheringIn the NightIn G MajorGlass PiecesNY Export: Opus Jazzand Ives, Songs, which are in the repertories of New York City Ballet and other major dance companies throughout the world. His last ballets include A Suite of Dances, created for Mikhail Baryshnikov (1994), 2 & 3 Part Inventions (1994), West Side Story Suite (1995), and Brandenburg (1996).


Said the directors of the Foundation, “Jerome Robbins’ output was incredibly far-reaching.  While his ballet and Broadway work is well known, many forget his work in film and television and almost no one is aware of his visual art – photography, drawings, and paintings – and copious writings on a range of subjects.  Our aim is to celebrate Jerry and all his work.”


The Jerome Robbins Centennial will be framed / spearheaded by a number of programs by the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Jerome Robbins Dance Divisionand an almost three-week festival of his ballets at New York City Ballet.



Fellows Program & Symposium

As the home of his archive, the Jerome Robbins Dance Division recently awarded six fellowships to dance artists and writers to generate new scholarship on Robbins’ legacy. The fellowship period runs through December 2017 and will subsequently culminate in a day-long symposium on Friday, January 26, where fellows Ninotchka Bennahum, Adrian Danchig-Waring, Robert Greskovic, Julie Lemberger, Alastair Macaulay and Hiie Saumaa will present the outcome of their research.

Bruno Walter Auditorium, NYPL for the Performing Arts, 111 Amsterdam Ave., NYC.

26 January 2018. 10am - 5pm.



The identity of Jerome Robbins and New York City are inextricably linked as one defines the swagger and style of the place and the other molds and influences the man. For the exhibition Voice of My City: Jerome Robbins and New York, running September 2018 - March 2019 at the Oenslager Gallery, urban historian and dance writer Julia Foulkes explores Robbins and New York side by side, demonstrating how his artistic output captures the city in particular moments of history and how the unique nature of New York led to the specific genius of Jerome Robbins.

Oenslager Gallery, NYPL for the Performing Arts, 40 Lincoln Center Plaza, NYC.

September 2018 - March 2019.




New York City Ballet’s 2018 Spring Season will celebrate the centennial of Jerome Robbins’ birth with Robbins 100, a tribute to the Co-Founding Choreographer’s remarkable contributions to classical dance at large and his indelible impact on the NYCB repertory.  The celebration will feature 19 works created by Robbins over the course of 40 years, and will open on Thursday, May 3 with a Spring Gala performance featuring a World Premiere by NYCB Resident Choreographer and Soloist Justin Peck set to a score by Leonard Bernstein in honor of the centennial of both Robbins and Bernstein, and a World Premiere ballet by Tony Award-winning choreographer and director Warren Carlyle that pays tribute to Robbins’ legendary Broadway career.  The new work will feature 30 NYCB dancers in a showcase of music and choreography from eight landmark Broadway musicals that Robbins was closely associated with during his storied career – On the Town (1944), Billion Dollar Baby (1945), The King and I (1954), Peter Pan (1954), West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959), Funny Girl (1964), and Fiddler on the Roof (1964).


The gala performance will also include Robbins’ Circus Polka (1972) and The Four Seasons (1979).  Running from May 3 to May 20, the Robbins 100 celebration will also include performances of the ballets Interplay (1945), Fancy Free (1944), The Cage (1951), Afternoon of a Faun (1953), Fanfare (1953), The Concert (1956), West Side Story Suite (1957), Les Noces (1965), Dances at a Gathering (1969), In the Night (1970), The Goldberg Variations (1971), Dybbuk (1974), In G Major (1975), Other Dances (1976), Opus 19/The Dreamer (1979), Glass Pieces (1983), and Antique Epigraphs (1984).  In addition to performances in May, NYCB will hold a number of workshops and educational presentations for adults and children.

3 May - 20 May 2018





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Part 2:

Institutions across the city, nation, and world will join the centennial celebration with a variety of performances, screenings and events.





      The Concert, Dances at a Gathering: 17 September 2017



      Circus Polka, The Cage, In the Night, Other Dances, West Side Story Suite: 12 January 2018



      Dances at a Gathering: 13 January 2018



      Rondo, Septet, Concertino: 16 March 2018



      The Cage, Fancy Free, Opus 19, Other Dances: 20 March 2018



      Fancy Free, In the Night, West Side Story Suite: 3 May 2018



      Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, 11 - 17 June 2018



Tribute to Jerome Robbins featuring companies from around the globe (TBA): 25 June 2018



      Fancy Free, Glass Pieces, Interplay: 6 Sept 2018



      Dances at a Gathering: 11 Sept 2018



      Afternoon of a Faun, The Concert, In the Night, Other Dances: 21 Sept 2018

      Dances at a Gathering, Interplay, West Side Story Suite: 28 Sept 2018



      Afternoon of a Faun, Fancy Free, Glass Pieces: 28 Sept 2018



      Watermill: cast TBA: October 2018



      The Concert, Glass Pieces, In the Night: 7 March 2019






      Program TBA: 20 July 2018



Jerome Robbins on Television – This program will examine how the ballets and Broadway work of Jerome Robbins have been presented on television. Rare interview and performance footage will be screened and discussed by a panel of dancers and others who worked with Robbins. The discussion will be moderated by Amanda Vail, author of Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins.  In addition, the Paley Center will have weekend screenings of Jerome Robbins’ television work on select Sundays in October and November.  (Dates TBA, Paley Center for Media in New York)



The Definitive Biography of an American Dance Master will air abroad throughout the 2018-2019 season.






Jerome Robbins - American Dance Genius: 20 & 21 October 2017



DEL Dances for a Gathering: Jerome Robbins with Ellen Bar, Ann Biddle, Robert La Fosse, and Heather Watts: 4 & 5 November 2018



      West Side Story Suite and American Dance: 28 February 2018



      Bernstein & Robbins at 100 with Tyler Angle: 4 June 2018



OSL will create and premiere an original, multi-disciplinary educational concert that tells the story of Robbins’ life through words, music, and dance. This original production will receive six performances at Tribeca Performing Arts Center in November 2018, engaging 4,000 public school children in Robbins’ artistry. This production is part of St. Luke’s tradition of Free School Concerts, now in its fifth decade of connecting young audiences to the arts through live performance.





The centenary will celebrate Robbins’s work not only for the stage but for the page: October 2018 will see the publication by Alfred A. Knopf of a selection from his voluminous journals, autobiographical writings, letters, scenarios, and essays, edited by award-winning  Robbins biographer and documentarist Amanda Vaill (Somewhere, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About). Illustrated with Robbins’s own photographs, drawings, and other art work, the book will re-create the choreographer and director’s life and work from the inside, as he himself saw it, in his own words and images.


For first time since the original Broadway production, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway will return to the stage at The Muny in St. Louis.  Running from June 11 through June 17, the newly remounted production will celebrate not only the 100th birthday of Jerome Robbins but will open the epic 100th anniversary season of The Muny itself.



Follow along with us on Instagram (@jeromerobbinsfoundation) as we countdown to our Centennial Kickoff with 100 days of Robbins, beginning October 11th!


Further updates, additions, and calendar changes can be found on our website, www.jeromerobbins.org, or by following along on Twitter (@JeromeRobbinsFd) and Facebook (facebook.com/TheGeniusOfJeromeRobbins).  


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As part of Jacob's Pillow's observance of the Robbins centennial, there was a Pillow talk today on "Robbins Reconsidered." Maura Keefe (Pillow Scholar-in-Residence) moderated the discussion, which featured Julia Foulkes, Professor of History at the New School and curator of an upcoming exhibition at the New York Public Library (https://www.nypl.org/events/exhibitions/voice-my-city-jerome-robbins-and-new-york), Robbins scholar Hiie Saumaa, and Wendy Whelan. 

A few interesting points that I remembered:

I think Wendy said that Robbins choreographed The King and I shortly before The Cage, and that there are similarities in the arm movements.

Wendy mentioned that Robbins first noticed her when she was dancing Symphony in Three Movements. Said that he liked her because she didn't wear make up or dress up, and that Robbins wanted people to be genuine and got angry when they weren't. Her first Robbins role was the Novice in The Cage, and she liked it because she felt that she wasn't beautiful and didn't know how she fit in as a ballerina, and in this role she didn't have to worry about those things. Plus she got to kill. Wendy also mentioned that Bart Cook taught her the role and how great he was at Robbins. He told her to watch Bride of Frankenstein and that the role was like Elsa Lanchester. Wendy also did a brief performance to explain what marking was in response to an audience question. She said that Robbins liked people who marked in the back of the room because it showed that they were thinking about the dance. He wanted dancers to know where they had come from and where they were going--she said that this approach informed all of her dancing.

Saumaa mentioned that she had found that although Robbins expressed a lot of anger in his writing, he was also very loving, and had many letters where people thanked him for his thoughtfulness when there was a death or for sending them flowers etc. She mentioned that he wrote short stories, did drawings, and was very emotional.

Foulkes mentioned that Robbins had pads where he wrote for pages to try to analyze how he choreographed Dances at a Gathering--why was this ballet so easy for him when others were so difficult. He ultimately concluded that it was due to Chopin and having completely immersed himself in the music. 

Their favorite Robbins works for today were The Cage for Whelan, Watermill for  Saumaa,  and NY Export Opus Jazz for Foulkes.

O'Keefe also mentioned that the famous story about Robbins falling backwards into the orchestra pit is associated with 4 different productions.

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4 hours ago, FPF said:

Her first Robbins role was the Novice in The Cage, and she liked it because she felt that she wasn't beautiful and didn't know how she fit in as a ballerina, and in this role she didn't have to worry about those things.

That role was the one that for me showed that she was a ballerina of the highest order.

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Also, I remembered that there was another interesting part of this discussion where the panelists were asked who is the Robbins for today. Justin Peck was mentioned first--I think that the panelist was thinking of his sneaker ballets. Wendy mentioned that she thinks that there's some Robbins in Peck, Wheeldon, and especially Ratmansky, because of their interest in characters and community. 

There was also a follow-up from the audience asking who might be the up-and-coming Robbins from among women or people of color. Wendy suggested Kyle Abraham, as he is also interested in character and community. There were a few others mentioned, including a woman, but the names have gone out of my head.

Hopefully, the Pillow will post this this talk in a few days.

Edited by FPF
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5 hours ago, Marta said:

Amy Reusch, 

I don't know if Baryshnikov ever coached the PdD you refer to from Other Dances for the archives, but this spring he coached OD with de Luz and Peck.  Haven't heard that Makarova was invited to coach at City Ballet though. 

I hope they archived that! (If they shot it)

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NYCB Principal Adrian Danchig-Waring will host three free Robbins Centennial events at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts (NYPLPA):

1) Monday 11/19/18 at 6PM: Robbins' the Dancer:

"Joined by NYCB colleagues and other special guests, Danchig-Waring will screen and discuss rare, historic footage from Robbins’ own dancing career, including Ballet Theater’s “lost” production of Antony Tudor’s Romeo and Juliet, a 1944 performance of the original cast of Fancy Free, plus poignant footage of Robbins’ demonstrating and coaching in New York City Ballet rehearsal studios late in his life."

2) Monday 12/10/18 at 6PM: Robbins' New York Portraits:

 "New York City Ballet principal dancer Adrian Danchig-Waring, along with the company’s resident choreographer Justin Peck and scholar Julia Foulkes, watch and casually discuss Glass Pieces and New York Export: Opus Jazz. Pausing, rewinding, and zooming in, they will marvel at and analyze, react to, and remember the choreographic genius of Jerome Robbins and his enduring fascination with New York City."

3) Monday 1/14/19 at 6PM: Robbins' Judaica

"Throughout his life, Jerome Robbins’ struggled with alienation, faith, and his Jewish heritage. New York City Ballet Principal Dancer Adrian Danchig-Waring hosts a final evening celebration of Robbins’ ballets, this time focused on Robbin’s Jewish themed works Dybbuk and Les Noce. While screening performance footage from the Library’s collections, Danchig-Waring and other special guests will pause, re-watch, and discuss, dissecting the traditions, innovations, and individual flourishes embedded in some of Robbins’ most deeply personal creations."

The events are free, but you need to get tickets in advance. Each of the links above will take you to the Eventbrite page for that program, where, beginning one month before each event,  you can reserve tickets. 

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An article by Mark Franco for The Massachusetts Review, "Favorite Things: Robbins at 100" from 2018.


I see an unexpected continuity between what Lincoln Kirstein called Jean Cocteau’s obsession with “the rehabilitation of the commonplace” following his ballet Parade (1917) and Robbins’s interest in vernacular movement.[4] What struck me most in Fancy Free (1944), Robbins’s first ballet, was the pressure of the vernacular on ballet as the cartoonish delivery of gesture. Fancy Free is a tale of three sailors on leave and on the make in Manhattan at night. Consider the moment when the three, standing in a row facing the bar, backs to the audience, down their glasses in perfect synchrony. It is a gesture that could have been observed, but which, given its stylized form, was not selected at random. Denby wrote at the premiere: “Its [Fancy Free’s] sentiment of how people live in this country is completely intelligent and completely realistic.”[5] Did not Lincoln Kirstein also hint at something like this in his earlier search for “native style” for ballet “as developed in movies and musical comedy”?[6] But, how realistic is it, really? Was Robbins caricaturing the American sailor? Or were American sailors caricatures? Whatever the case may be, Americanness entered ballet as gesture whose sharp definition was then articulated by the dancing, although today it seems tacked onto a classical and technically oriented physicality.[7]

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