PC Paul Kolnik

What Makes Robbins' Glass Pieces So Powerful

New York City Ballet is celebrating the Jerome Robbins Centennial with twenty (20!) ballets. The great American choreographer died in 1998, so very few of today's dancers have actually worked with him. There are plenty of stories about how demanding (at times brutally so) he could be in rehearsal. But Peter Boal has written about Robbins in a more balanced, loving way. In this post he writes about how Robbins' crystal clear imagery helped him approach a role with clarity and purpose.



Glass Pieces has this clarity and purpose without a narrative. Or, rather it's a narrative of dynamics, not a narrative of plot. He worked with lighting designer Ronald Bates to give us a graph-paper grid on the backdrop that relates to the cumulative mathematics of Philip Glass' music. This 1983 ballet is divided into three parts: simple walking, an ethereal duet backed by a more stylized walking, and a striding low run that's gone way beyond walking. The mounting kinetic excitement pulls you in. It makes you feel the humanness of the dancers at the same time as you notice patterns, whether they look random, as in the first section, or shot from a cannon, as in the third section.

Latest Posts


Courtesy Ava Noble

Go Behind the Scenes of USC Kaufman’s Virtual Dance Festival

Now more than ever, the students of USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance are embodying their program's vision: "The New Movement."

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, the dance world continues to be faced with unprecedented challenges, but USC Kaufman's faculty and BFA students haven't shied away from them. While many schools have had to cancel events or scale them back to live-from-my-living-room streams, USC Kaufman has embraced the situation and taken on impressive endeavors, like expanding its online recruitment efforts.

November 1 to 13, USC Kaufman will present A/Part To/Gather, a virtual festival featuring world premieres from esteemed faculty and guest choreographers, student dance films and much more. All semester long, they've rehearsed via Zoom from their respective student apartments or hometowns. And they haven't solely been dancing. "You have a rehearsal process, and then a filming process, and a production process of putting it together," says assistant professor of practice Jennifer McQuiston Lott of the prerecorded and professionally edited festival.

GO DEEPER SHOW LESS