Round Robbins: How the Dance World is Celebrating Jerome Robbins' 100th Birthday
From the over-the-top antics of Fancy Free to the stylized realism of West Side Story, the discomfiting world of The Cage to the poignant humanity of Dances at a Gathering, the work of Jerome Robbins redefined what American dance could be. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of his birth, ballet companies across the country are performing his iconic works throughout the year. Here are a few of our favorites, but keep your eyes peeled for more Robbins tributes in 2018.
Miami City Ballet
MCB dancers channel their silly sides for Robbins' The Concert (or, the Perils of Everybody). Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy MCB
MCB's Jerome Robbins Celebration features Circus Polka, The Cage, Other Dances, In the Night and West Side Story Suite, classics spanning over 40 years and illustrating the master's stylistic range. In a delightful twist, Circus Polka will feature artistic director Lourdes Lopez in the role of Ringmaster, making her the first woman ever to perform the part originated by Robbins himself. Miami, Jan. 12–14. Fort Lauderdale, Jan. 27–28. West Palm Beach, Feb. 2–4. For a bonus Robbins treat, his comic masterpiece The Concert (or, the Perils of Everybody) will be performed on a later program with works by George Balanchine and Brian Brooks. Miami, Feb. 9–11. West Palm Beach, March 2–4. Fort Lauderdale, March 17–18. miamicityballet.org.
As part of its Modern Masters program, Joffrey Ballet will present the Chicago premiere of Glass Pieces, set to music by Philip Glass. The angular athleticism of the work, danced by a cast of 42, draws the subtly shifting repetitions in Glass' compositions into focus. Chicago, Feb. 7–18. joffrey.org.
San Francisco Ballet
SFB in Robbins' Fancy Free. Photo by Erik Tomasson, via sfballet.org.
Opus 19/The Dreamer, The Cage, Other Dances and Fancy Free are on the program for SFB's Robbins: Ballet & Broadway. Fancy Free, Robbins' breakout 1944 ballet that later inspired the musical On the Town, is set to music by Leonard Bernstein, whose 100th birthday is also celebrated this year. San Francisco, March 20–25. sfballet.org.
New York City Ballet
Of course NYCB is going all out to honor one of its co-founding choreographers. The Robbins 100 celebration boasts 19 works by the master arrayed in six programs over three weeks, plus a world premiere by resident choreographer Justin Peck inspired by Robbins and set to the music of Bernstein in honor of both men's centennials. New York City, May 3–20. nycballet.com.
And a whole lot more...
Nelson Madrigal and Whitney Jensen in Robbins' Afternoon of a Faun. Photo by Rosalie O'Connor, Courtesy Boston Ballet
There's so much going on that we're not even sure we know about all of it, but here are some of the organizations planning performances, film screenings, exhibitions or other events celebrating Robbins this year. Keep an eye on individual websites and the Jerome Robbins Foundation as details and additional events are announced.
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
New York Theatre Ballet
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre
Les Étés de la Danse
Dutch National Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet
Paris Opéra Ballet
Brooklyn Academy of Music
Dance on Camera Festival
The Paley Center for Media
92nd Street Y
Spoleto Festival USA
If "Fosse/Verdon" whet your appetite for the impeccable Gwen Verdon, then Merely Marvelous: The Dancing Genius of Gwen Verdon is the three-course meal you've been craving. The new documentary—available now on Amazon for rental or purchase—dives into the life of the Tony-winning performer and silver-screen star lauded for her charismatic dancing.
Though she's perhaps most well-known today as Bob Fosse's wife and muse, that's not even half of her story. For starters, she'd already won four Tonys before they wed, making her far more famous in the public eye than he was at that point in his career. That's just one of many surprising details we learned during last night's U.S. premiere of Merely Marvelous. Believe us: You're gonna love her even more once you get to know her. Here are eight lesser-known tidbits to get you started.
Every dancer knows that how you fuel your body affects how you feel in the studio. Of course, while breakfast is no more magical than any other meal (despite the enduring myth that it's the most important one of the day), showing up to class hangry is a recipe for unproductive studio time.
So what do your favorite dancers eat in the morning to set themselves up for a busy rehearsal or performance day?
When it comes to dance in the U.S., companies in the South often find themselves overlooked—sometimes even by the presenters in their own backyard. That's where South Arts comes in. This year, the regional nonprofit launched Momentum, an initiative that will provide professional development, mentorship, touring grants and residencies to five Southern dance companies.
You ever just wish that Kenneth MacMillan's iconic production of Romeo and Juliet could have a beautiful love child with the 1968 film starring Olivia Hussey? (No, not Baz Luhrmann's version. We are purists here.)
Wish granted: Today, the trailer for a new film called Romeo and Juliet: Beyond Words was released, featuring MacMillan's choreography and with what looks like all the cinematic glamour we could ever dream of: