5 + 5: Jerome Robbins

8th July 2012

To the Sage Gateshead for the last of just four performances of a new production of West Side Story. Directed and choreographed by Will Tuckett, it is a thrilling reworking of the Jerome Robbins original, appropriately respectful but also reinventing this masterpiece for the twenty-first century. (Go here for Albert Hickling’s 5-star Guardian review and here for a thoughful piece for the Year of Shakespeare blog by Monika Smialkowska.) A future life for the production is uncertain but I’ll be watching that carefully.

Meanwhile it prompted me to search out some of the best online resources about the late Jerome Robbins, whose original conception West Side Story was, and who was the choreographer and stage director for the premiere in 1957. I also want to try out a new format for recommended links, so following are five web sits and five fragments of video. The first of the latter is the compelling trailer for the movie of West Side Story (directed by Robert Wise and Robbins, 1961):

The Jerome Robbins Foundation and Robbins Rights Trust
Biography, news about productions and the place you go to if you want to perform the works.

New York City Ballet: Timeline
Simple but effective outline of Robbins’ life and work, which complements the main page of information about the choreographer at the website of the company with which he was so strongly associated.

NY Export: Opus Jazz
I have blogged before about this terrific short film, created by the New York City Ballet, of one of Robbins’ signature works. This is a comprehensive web site, including the trailer and purchase info for iTunes.

• Ellen Barr: The Making of NY Export: Opus Jazz
This is a great complement to the previous site – a detailed interview with on of the co-producers of the film, who is also a soloist with the New York City Ballet.

• Jerome Robbins: the master at work
Rare footage of Robbins rehearsing with Charlotte D’Amboise, Robert LaFosse, and Debbie Shapiro prior to the opening of the 1989 Tony Award winning musical Jerome Robbins Broadway.

West Side Story (film)
The Wikipedia page about the movie is particularly good on the differences between the original stage show and the feature film.

On the Town: ‘Miss Turnstiles’
Vera-Ellen in a great scene from the 1949 movie which was based on the 1944 Broadway show which in turn was developed from Robbins’ dance piece Fancy Free.

The Concert (or the Perils of Everybody)
Robbins’s short and very funny dance piece, choreographed to Chopin and danced here by Ballet de l’Opéra National de Paris.

‘American Dancer’
For The New Yorker in 2001 Joan Acocella reviews (and takes apart) Greg Lawrence’s book Dance with Demons: The Life of Jerome Robbins, and has much of interest to say about it subject.

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