Thursday, 11 October 2018

Dance is like life

"Leonard Bernstein was afraid of only two things: God and Jerry Robbins.” - Arthur Laurents.

We have another centenary to celebrate today - Jerome Robbins, the man who studied his art of choreography under the legendary George Balanchine, came up with an idea for a modern ballet based around the adventures of three sailors on shore leave, called in his friend [and fellow centenary celebrant this year] Mr Bernstein to produce the music, then, after realising that the ballet was probably not the right medium, went on to co-create out of its remnants the musical On The Town (with book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green). The rest is history!

Jerry went on to collaborate on a whole raft of productions that became the mainstay of modern musical theatre, including Call Me Madam (with Lindsay and Russel Crouse and Irving Berlin), The King and I (with Rodgers and Hammerstein), The Pajama Game (with Richard Adler and Jerry Ross), Gypsy (with Jule Styne, Stephen Sondheim and Mr Laurents), and (of course) West Side Story (with Mr Bernstein, Mr Sondheim and Mr Laurents again). The list doesn't end there, of course: Peter Pan, Funny Girl, Bells Are Ringing, High Button Shoes, Fiddler on the Roof and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; ballets by Stravisky, Debussy, Chopin, Verdi, Ravel, and even Philip Glass - he had a hand in them all.

“Give me something to dance about and I’ll dance it.”

"Essentially what I care about is working ... I don't want to fall into profundities and artistry and surround everything with whipped cream."

"Dance is like life. It exists as you are flitting through it, and when it's over, it's done."

"I told you to sell it, not give it away."

- Jerome Robbins.

He was a complete dragon to work for, of course. Perfectionists always are. He was also a bit of quisling during the McCarthy witch-hunts (apparently because he was threatened with being "outed" by the self-proclaimed "pillar of the American establishment", TV host Ed Sullivan). Nevertheless, his legacy is suffice to forgive him many a queeny strop. [And he shagged Montgomery Clift, so he has kudos for that, too!]

He was a legend.

Jerome Robbins (born Jerome Wilson Rabinowitz, 11th October 1918 – 29th July 1998)


  1. such wonderful shows and the dancing! thank you for the history lesson, luv!

  2. Love Gypsy and West Side Story!

    1. What's not to love? They are brilliant musicals. Jx


Please leave a message - I value your comments!