News

Companies Worldwide Are Celebrating Jerome Robbins' Centennial This Spring

New York City Ballet's Joseph Gordon and Tiler Peck in "Fancy Free." Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB.

One of the titans among choreographers of the 20th century, Jerome Robbins will be celebrated by a number of ballet companies worldwide in 2018 for the centennial of his birth. He died in 1998 at age 79 after a prolific career. His rare talent enabled him to direct and choreograph Broadway hits (West Side Story, On the Town and Fiddler on the Roof, among many) and to create sublime ballets, such as Afternoon of a Faun for New York City Ballet; Fancy Free (his first ballet) for American Ballet Theatre; and NY Export: Opus Jazz for his short-lived troupe Ballets: U.S.A.


Jerome Robbins. Photo Courtesy Dance Magazine Archives.


Lourdes Lopez, the artistic director of Miami City Ballet and former principal dancer with NYCB, worked closely with Robbins. "I always describe Jerry as the quintessential American choreographer," says Lopez. "He really understood America and American feelings." She recalls the serendipity of two strikingly different geniuses, Robbins and George Balanchine, working in the NYCB studios: "Mr. B would say, 'Show me what you want to do with this.' Jerry said, 'Here are the steps and the character.' We could not ad lib. We had to become those characters." Lopez also lauds the enormity and diversity of Robbins' genius, which embraced everything from the spot-on comedic timing of The Concert to the humanistic Dances at a Gathering.

Among the legendary muses who inspired Robbins were Tanaquil Le Clercq, Allegra Kent, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Suzanne Farrell. Robbins' partnership with composer Leonard Bernstein produced seminal collaborations: West Side Story, Fancy Free, On the Town and Dybbuk.

"He stretched your imagination and intelligence," says Lopez, and notes that his ballets required dancers to think deeply about their characters. Dancers also needed to be prepared for his demanding perfectionism. "He could nail it when you were faking it," she adds.

Robbins' life and career will be honored by numerous companies around the globe this spring. Here's a roundup of what's on tap:

  • Miami City Ballet: Jerome Robbins Celebration, January 12–February 4, with six works, including three company premieres—Circus Polka, The Cage and Other Dances. Miami City Ballet is also performing Afternoon of a Faun, In the Night, and Other Dances on May 25 during Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina.
  • The Joffrey Ballet: Modern Masters program with Glass Pieces, February 7–18.
  • Cincinnati Ballet: Fancy Free on its March 15–18 Director's Cut: Musical Masters series.
  • San Francisco Ballet: Four pieces celebrate Robbins' and Leonard Bernstein's centennials March 20–25 in Robbins: Ballet & Broadway.
  • English National Ballet: The Cage on its April 12–21 Voices of America program.
  • New York City Ballet: Robbins 100 runs May 3–20, featuring 19 Robbins ballets and a world premiere by Justin Peck, in tribute to Robbins and set to a Bernstein score.
  • Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre: A program running May 4–6 features West Side Story Suite, Fancy Free and In the Night.
The Conversation
Ballet Stars
American Ballet Theatre corps member José Sebastian (center) is launching the Hamptons Dance Project with a cast of fellow ABT dancers this August. Rochelle Brodin, Courtesy Hamptons Dance Project.

From coast to coast, and on the shores of Lake Michigan in-between, professional dancers and choreographers are going one step beyond putting together a summer pickup company. Some are now curating multi-evening festivals in their hometowns and beloved vacation areas, and featuring an impressive range of companies, dancers and dance styles. So get ready to plan your next trip—here are three dance fests in beautiful resort areas to keep on your radar.

Keep reading... Show less
The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Behind-the-scenes shot of NYCB dancers on set. David Alberda, Courtesy Emily Kikta and Peter Walker.

Tonight, New York City Ballet opens its 53 annual summer season at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. But if you're away at a summer intensive or busy rehearsing at your home studio and can't make it to a performance, we have the next best thing: seven new site specific videos made by and featuring NYCB dancers.

Keep reading... Show less
Sasha De Sola and Carlo Di Lanno in The Sleeping Beauty. Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

The first time I saw Sleeping Beauty was on video, the Kirov version with Larissa Lezhnina. The music for the first entrance gave me butter- flies. Aurora comes out, and it captured my heart. Larissa coached me for my first sea- son of Aurora, and just the fact that we were sharing the same studio—I couldn't get over it. One of the things she encouraged me to explore is after Aurora faints: You get back up, you look up at your parents and re- center yourself. For me, what feels natural is that you don't want anyone to worry. Maybe there is a moment where you get a little embarrassed. It's those small moments that make it feel very personal to me.

Keep reading... Show less