Robbins, Jerome

Alternative names

Hide Profile

American dancer, choreographer, and ballet master.

From the description of Jerome Robbins scrapbooks [microform]. 1937-1985. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 81722948

From the description of Jerome Robbins scrapbooks. 1986-1990. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79096064

American ballet dancer and choreographer primarily associated with American Ballet Theatre in the 1940s and the New York City Ballet since 1949; also, theatrical director and choreographer whose productions include West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof.

From the description of Correspondence, 1945-1981, with Agnes de Mille. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122517300

American dancer, choreographer, and director, 1918-1998.

From the description of Jerome Robbins Papers, 1930-2001 (bulk 1940-1998). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122378844

Jerome Robbins, dancer, choreographer and director of ballet and Broadway musicals.

From the description of Jerome Robbins' Broadway: typescript, 1991. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 144652521

Jerome Robbins was a dancer, choreographer and director.

Jerome Robbins (born 11 October 1918 in New York City) was the younger of two children of Harry Rabinowitz, who emigrated to America from Poland in 1904, and his wife Lena Rips. He staged the All-American Ford 50th Anniversary Show (1953) for television with Ethel Merman and Mary Martin; co-directed The Pajama Game (1954) on Broadway; conceived, directed, and choreographed Peter Pan (1954) starring Mary Martin; directed Aaron Copland's opera The Tender Land (1954); directed and co-choreographed Bells Are Ringing (1956) starring Judy Holliday; and choreographed the film version of The King and I (1956). Meanwhile at New York City Ballet he created two masterpieces, the lyrical Afternoon of a Faun (1953) and the hilarious send-up, The Concert (1956), among other works. In 1957, Robbins teamed up with Leonard Bernstein on a musical he had been discussing with him and playwright Arthur Laurents for some years: West Side Story. He won an Academy Award for his direction for the 1961 film production -- sharing the Oscar with co-director Robert Wise -- as well as one for choreography. Robbins had also directed the ultimate backstage musical, Gypsy (1959) with Ethel Merman, and now he began to branch out into non-musical theater. Two Broadway hits followed -- A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962) which didn't mention his name, and Funny Girl (1964) which listed him only as "production supervisor." He got full credit and then some, however, for Fiddler on the Roof (1964). He re-emerged at City Ballet with Dances at a Gathering (1969), In the Night (1970), The Goldberg Variations (1971), and Watermill (1972). Robbins never really left City Ballet again, except for a leave of absence in 1989 and forays into the theater for workshops of an adaptation of Brecht's The Exception and the Rule (1987) and of The Poppa Piece (1991), and the triumphant staging of his anthology show, Jerome Robbins' Broadway (1989), for which he won his fifth Tony Award. Robbins died at his home in New York on July 29, 1998.

From the description of Jerome Robbins personal papers, 1896-2000 and undated (1931-1998, bulk dates) (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 231413121

Jerome Robbins (born 11 October 1918 in New York City) was the younger of two children of Harry Rabinowitz, who emigrated to America from Poland in 1904, and his wife Lena Rips. Rabinowitz was at first a shopkeeper with a delicatessen on the Upper East Side of Manhattan; in the 1920’s he moved the family to Jersey City and then to Weehawken, New Jersey, where he and a brother-in-law established the Comfort Corset Company. Young Jerome, who showed an early aptitude for music, dancing, and theatrics, attended schools in Weehawken and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1935. Intending to study either chemistry or journalism, he matriculated at New York University in the autumn of 1935; but the Depression took a turn for the worse in 1936 and his family could no longer support his education -- especially considering that he was, by his own account, failing two courses (math and French) out of five. Unwilling to work in the corset factory, he tried to find employment in some form of show business; and through his sister Sonia, who had already danced professionally with Irma Duncan and Senya Gluck-Sandor’s Dance Center, he got an apprenticeship with Sandor’s company.

Gluck-Sandor was a hybrid as a choreographer--ballet-trained, dedicated to modern dance, but also a veteran of Broadway, burlesque, and vaudeville--and his expressive, theatrical style attracted Robbins from the outset. But the fledgling dancer--who like other members of his family took the surname of Robbins for work in the theater--also studied ballet with Ella Daganova and in 1937 appeared in the Yiddish Art Theatre production of The Brothers Ashkenazi, directed by and starring Maurice Schwartz, for which Sandor did the choreography. In the summer of 1937 Robbins began dancing and choreographing at Tamiment, a progressive-movement resort in Pennsylvania’s Pocono mountains which featured a resident singing-acting-dancing troupe and weekend revues starring emerging talents like Danny Kaye, Imogene Coca, and Carol Channing. His work from this period consisted mainly of burlesque-like blackout sketches on the one hand and dramatic works with strong social content, like Death of a Loyalist or Strange Fruit, (set to Abel Meeropol’s song about a lynching) on the other. But he was beginning to gain an audience: some of his dances were performed under the auspices of the Theatre Arts Committee at New York’s 92nd Street YMHA and others as part of The Straw Hat Revue, which Tamiment producer Max Liebman opened on Broadway in 1939.

Robbins spent three summers at Tamiment and taking on one-shot roles in ballet performances at Jones Beach, the New York World’s Fair, and elsewhere; he found work during the regular theater season in the Broadway choruses of Great Lady (1938), Stars in Your Eyes (1939), and Keep Off the Grass (1940) -- the last-named choreographed by George Balanchine. In the summer of 1940 he was accepted into the recently-formed Ballet Theatre, where he soon advanced from the corps de ballet to solo roles which showed off the taut fluidity with which he compensated for his lack of heroic classical technique: the Young Man in Agnes De Mille’s Three Virgins and a Devil, an apple-munching Hermes in Helen of Troy, and -- the role which made him famous -- the tragic puppet in Petroushka .

He had been burning to choreograph a ballet himself for the company, preferably one with an American theme, to American music; but all his ideas were too grandiose for the perennially strapped company to consider. Encouraged to "think small" he came up with the idea for a ballet about three sailors on shore leave in New York City. To write the score he sought out the services of a young unknown composer named Leonard Bernstein, and Ballet Theatre’s Oliver Smith agreed to design the scenery. On April 18, 1944, Fancy Free premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House to a raucous two dozen curtain calls; and in December of that year On the Town, a musical comedy based on the ballet, with music by Bernstein, dances by Robbins, sets by Smith (who also produced), and book and lyrics by a pair of Bernstein’s cabaret buddies named Betty Comden and Adolph Green, had a fairy-tale opening on Broadway. From that moment until his death more than fifty years later Robbins’s primacy on Broadway and in ballet was assured; but he did more than reach the top in his two spheres of influence. He changed each of his worlds from the inside out.

On Broadway he quickly established himself as the choreographer of the moment at a time when musical comedies were evolving out of the stylish but contentless song-and-dance anthologies that had showcased the talents of the Gershwins and Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hart. Robbins shows -- and as he began to direct as well as create ideas and dances for them, they truly were Robbins shows -- had, or aimed to have, a story, characters, a point.

So the Roaring Twenties musical, Billion Dollar Baby (1946 -- with book and lyrics by Comden and Green and music by Morton Gould), revolved around a gold-digging bathing beauty who serially married for money; 1947's High Button Shoes (his first collaboration with composer Jule Styne) was a nostalgic romp set in New Jersey in 1913 and featuring a Keystone Kops ballet. And 1948’s Look, Ma, I’m Dancin’ (which he co-directed with George Abbot, and for which he received the credit "conceived by Jerome Robbins") was the autobiographical backstage story of a super-ambitious dancer-choreographer’s collision with the brewery heiress backing his ballet company; his changed character is mirrored in the two ballets he creates -- the first a brash, over-complicated expression of youthful hubris, the second altogether subtler, more thoughtful and human.

Look, Ma was succeeded by one of Robbins’s rare flops, a show called That’s the Ticket (1948), which Robbins directed but did not choreograph. An overly whimsical mishmash, it closed in Philadelphia after ten days. But at this point Robbins made a life altering career-change.

At Ballet Theater he had followed Fancy Free with a series of dances that integrated the classic vocabulary with modern subject matter: among them the be-bop ballet Interplay (1945) and Facsimile (1946), an angst-ridden exploration of a love triangle with a new score by Bernstein. But in 1949 he left Ballet Theater to join George Balanchine’s new-born New York City Ballet, where he was almost immediately named Associate Artistic Director. He danced numerous quasi-dramatic roles for Balanchine -- including Prodigal Son, Tyl Eulenspiegel and as a principal opposite the glamorous Tanaquil Le Clercq in Bourrée Fantasque -- before retiring from performance in the mid 1950’s; but it was as a choreographer that he made his mark. Ballets like The Guests (1949, score by Marc Blitzstein), Age of Anxiety (1950, to Bernstein), and the terrifying fable The Cage (1951, to Stravinsky), showcased his flair for drama, his all-American sass and energy, and his affinity for modern music. And his association with Balanchine gave him a security and sense of kinship that nourished his genius.

Robbins continued to work on Broadway, as the choreographer of two Irving Berlin shows, Miss Liberty (1949) and Call Me Madam (1950), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I (1951), and Two’s Company (1952), a revue starring Bette Davis. But in 1953 he stunned the theatrical community, if not the world at large, by appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he admitted to membership in the Communist Party during the 1930’s and named eight individuals who he said had also been members.

His testimony was denounced by many (including some of his family) for whom McCarthyism was only steps from Nazism, but Robbins refused to justify or explain himself beyond his public statement that he had "made a great mistake... in entering the Communist Party." His decision haunted him, however, and ultimately he placed it at the center of an autobiographical drama, The Poppa Piece, which he experimented with in workshops during the early 1990’s.

Ironically, his career seemed to take on added luster in this troubled time. He staged the All-American Ford 50th Anniversary Show (1953) for television with Ethel Merman and Mary Martin; co-directed The Pajama Game (1954) on Broadway; conceived, directed, and choreographed Peter Pan (1954) starring Mary Martin; directed Aaron Copland’s opera The Tender Land (1954); directed and co-choreographed Bells Are Ringing (1956) starring Judy Holliday; and choreographed the film version of The King and I (1956). Meanwhile at New York City Ballet he created two masterpieces, the lyrical Afternoon of a Faun (1953) and the hilarious send-up, The Concert (1956), among other works.

In 1957 he teamed up once again with Leonard Bernstein on a musical he had been discussing with him and playwright Arthur Laurents for some years: West Side Story, a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set against a background of gang warfare in New York’s Puerto Rican ghetto. Directed by Robbins, with his electrifying street-smart choreography integrated into the action, West Side Story was arguably the first "concept musical"; it broke the mold of the Broadway show and also established Robbins’s reputation as a perfectionistic, difficult taskmaster -- a reputation that was one factor in his dismissal as director of the 1961 film version. He won an Academy Award for his direction nonetheless -- sharing the Oscar with co-director Robert Wise -- as well as one for choreography.

After West Side Story Robbins left New York City Ballet for a time and formed his own company, Ballets: USA, to appear at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. For it he made the explosive New York Export: Opus Jazz (1958), a ballet without music called Moves (1959), and other works; the company toured extensively in Europe but -- despite enthusiastic notices and even an appearance at the Kennedy White House -- it failed to find an ongoing audience in the United States and was disbanded in 1961. In the meantime Robbins had also directed the ultimate backstage musical, Gypsy (1959) with Ethel Merman, and now he began to branch out into non-musical theater. In 1962 he directed the American premiere of Arthur Kopit’s mordant mother-son comedy, Oh, Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You In the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad and in 1963 a production of Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children starring Anne Bancroft.

Two Broadway hits followed -- both shows he had originally agreed to direct, then withdrew from, and finally returned to when each seemed in danger of shipwreck during out-of-town tryouts. But although reviews for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962) didn’t mention his name, and although for Funny Girl (1964) he was listed only as "production supervisor," he reshaped both those musicals radically. He got full credit and then some, however, for Fiddler on the Roof (1964), the musical setting of Sholem Aleichem stories which he choreographed and directed, bringing to life as an organic musical whole the lost world of the Russian shtetl.

He accomplished a similar feat with his mammoth staging of Stravinsky’s Les Noces (1965) for American Ballet Theatre, but then retreated from the pressures of huge collaborative productions. Broadway was moving in the direction of rock spectacles like Hair and Jesus Christ, Superstar, and Robbins didn’t want to move with it. With the help of a 1966 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he established the American Theatre Lab to explore experimental music-theater techniques, from dance to Noh drama, with a small handpicked company in a workshop setting for a period of two years.

Seemingly re-charged from this work, he re-emerged at City Ballet with Dances at a Gathering (1969), a poignant and playful celebration of youth and love which was widely hailed as a masterpiece. There followed a fertile creative period in which Robbins made such vastly different works as the moonlit, expressive In the Night (1970), The Goldberg Variations (1971), which explored Bach’s thematic geometry, and Watermill (1972), a Noh-like meditation on the passage of a man’s life. In addition he collaborated with Balanchine, with whom he now shared the title of Ballet Master, on dances for Firebird (1970) and Pulcinella (1972) -- a demonstration of the collegiality and mutual respect that had always marked their relationship. As Balanchine once said to him, speaking of the legendary Russian ballet master Marius Petipa: "Very few people can do. Petipa, you, me -- we can do."

Robbins never really left City Ballet again, except for a leave of absence in 1989 and forays into the theater for workshops of an adaptation of Brecht’s The Exception and the Rule (1987) and of The Poppa Piece (1991), and the triumphant staging of his anthology show, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (1989), for which he won his fifth Tony Award. Increasingly his work seemed to move in a more and more abstract direction, away from the character-driven dances of his youth -- a process reflected in the changes he made in his last collaboration with Bernstein. Premiered as Dybbuk (1974) and based on the S. Anski play, it was first revised as The Dybbuk Variations (1974) and then as A Suite of Dances (1980), a ballet-in-progress which Robbins kept trying to reduce to its essence.

Essence did not mean homogeneity, however: Robbins’s work was still as protean as ever, from the sensuous and jazzy lyricism of In G Major (1975) and the opera-house pyrotechnics of Four Seasons (1979) to the spiky Opus 19: The Dreamer (1979) and the elegiac In Memory of... (1985). He was still experimenting with contemporary music, with ballets to Philip Glass ( Glass Pieces, 1983) and Steve Reich ( Octet, 1985), but it was Bach who spoke most clearly to him in his last decade, when he made the spare, poetic A Suite of Dances (1994) for Mikhail Baryshnikov to Bach’s suites for unaccompanied cello; the deceptively simple Two- and Three-Part Inventions (1994) for the students of the School of American Ballet, and the exuberant Brandenburg (1997) for City Ballet.

By then he was in fragile health, following a bicycle accident in 1990 and heart-valve surgery in 1994; in 1996 he began showing signs of a form of Parkinson’s disease and his hearing was poor; yet he insisted on staging Les Noces for City Ballet (1998). It was the last thing he did; two months later he suffered a massive stroke, and he died at his home in New York on July 29, 1998.

Robbins had already been made Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, and had won 5 Donaldson Awards, 5 Tony Awards, 2 Academy Awards, 1 Emmy Award, the Kennedy Center Honors, and numerous other prizes; on the evening of his death, the lights of Broadway were dimmed for a moment in tribute. In the more than sixty years in which he had been active in the theater, he had transformed it because he never stopped asking questions. "Why can’t we do ballets about our own subjects, meaning our life here in America?" he asked before making Fancy Free . And, speaking of the collaboration that made West Side Story, "Why couldn’t we, in aspiration, try to bring our deepest talents together to the commercial theater?" His own work answered both questions in the affirmative.

©2001 by Amanda Vaill. This article first appeared in Scribner's Encyclopedia of American Lives.

From the guide to the Jerome Robbins personal papers, 1896-2000 and undated, 1931-1998, dates, (The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.)

Jerome Robbins (born 11 October 1918 in New York City) was the younger of two children of Harry Rabinowitz, who emigrated to America from Poland in 1904, and his wife Lena Rips. Rabinowitz was at first a shopkeeper with a delicatessen on the Upper East Side of Manhattan; in the 1920’s he moved the family to Jersey City and then to Weehawken, New Jersey, where he and a brother-in-law established the Comfort Corset Company. Young Jerome, who showed an early aptitude for music, dancing, and theatrics, attended schools in Weehawken and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1935. Intending to study either chemistry or journalism, he matriculated at New York University in the autumn of 1935; but the Depression took a turn for the worse in 1936 and his family could no longer support his education -- especially considering that he was, by his own account, failing two courses (math and French) out of five. Unwilling to work in the corset factory, he tried to find employment in some form of show business; and through his sister Sonia, who had already danced professionally with Irma Duncan and Senya Gluck-Sandor’s Dance Center, he got an apprenticeship with Sandor’s company.

Gluck-Sandor was a hybrid as a choreographer -- ballet-trained, dedicated to modern dance, but also a veteran of Broadway, burlesque, and vaudeville -- and his expressive, theatrical style attracted Robbins from the outset. But the fledgling dancer -- who like other members of his family took the surname of Robbins for work in the theater -- also studied ballet with Ella Daganova and in 1937 appeared in the Yiddish Art Theatre production of The Brothers Ashkenazi, directed by and starring Maurice Schwartz, for which Sandor did the choreography. In the summer of 1937 Robbins began dancing and choreographing at Tamiment, a progressive-movement resort in Pennsylvania’s Pocono mountains which featured a resident singing-acting-dancing troupe and weekend revues starring emerging talents like Danny Kaye, Imogene Coca, and Carol Channing. His work from this period consisted mainly of burlesque-like blackout sketches on the one hand and dramatic works with strong social content, like Death of a Loyalist or Strange Fruit, (set to Abel Meeropol’s song about a lynching) on the other. But he was beginning to gain an audience: some of his dances were performed under the auspices of the Theatre Arts Committee at New York’s 92nd Street YMHA and others as part of The Straw Hat Revue, which Tamiment producer Max Liebman opened on Broadway in 1939

Robbins spent three summers at Tamiment and taking on one-shot roles in ballet performances at Jones Beach, the New York World’s Fair, and elsewhere; he found work during the regular theater season in the Broadway choruses of Great Lady (1938), Stars in Your Eyes (1939), and Keep Off the Grass (1940) -- the last-named choreographed by George Balanchine. In the summer of 1940 he was accepted into the recently-formed Ballet Theatre, where he soon advanced from the corps de ballet to solo roles which showed off the taut fluidity with which he compensated for his lack of heroic classical technique: the Young Man in Agnes De Mille’s Three Virgins and a Devil, an apple-munching Hermes in Helen of Troy, and -- the role which made him famous -- the tragic puppet in Petroushka .

He had been burning to choreograph a ballet himself for the company, preferably one with an American theme, to American music; but all his ideas were too grandiose for the perennially strapped company to consider. Encouraged to "think small" he came up with the idea for a ballet about three sailors on shore leave in New York City. To write the score he sought out the services of a young unknown composer named Leonard Bernstein, and Ballet Theatre’s Oliver Smith agreed to design the scenery. On April 18, 1944, Fancy Free premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House to a raucous two dozen curtain calls; and in December of that year On the Town, a musical comedy based on the ballet, with music by Bernstein, dances by Robbins, sets by Smith (who also produced), and book and lyrics by a pair of Bernstein’s cabaret buddies named Betty Comden and Adolph Green, had a fairy-tale opening on Broadway. From that moment until his death more than fifty years later Robbins’s primacy on Broadway and in ballet was assured; but he did more than reach the top in his two spheres of influence. He changed each of his worlds from the inside out.

On Broadway he quickly established himself as the choreographer of the moment at a time when musical comedies were evolving out of the stylish but contentless song-and-dance anthologies that had showcased the talents of the Gershwins and Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hart. Robbins shows -- and as he began to direct as well as create ideas and dances for them, they truly were Robbins shows -- had, or aimed to have, a story, characters, a point.

So the Roaring Twenties musical, Billion Dollar Baby (1946 -- with book and lyrics by Comden and Green and music by Morton Gould), revolved around a gold-digging bathing beauty who serially married for money; 1947's High Button Shoes (his first collaboration with composer Jule Styne) was a nostalgic romp set in New Jersey in 1913 and featuring a Keystone Kops ballet. And 1948’s Look, Ma, I’m Dancin’ (which he co-directed with George Abbot, and for which he received the credit "conceived by Jerome Robbins") was the autobiographical backstage story of a super-ambitious dancer-choreographer’s collision with the brewery heiress backing his ballet company; his changed character is mirrored in the two ballets he creates -- the first a brash, over-complicated expression of youthful hubris, the second altogether subtler, more thoughtful and human.

Look, Ma was succeeded by one of Robbins’s rare flops, a show called That’s the Ticket (1948), which Robbins directed but did not choreograph. An overly whimsical mishmash, it closed in Philadelphia after ten days. But at this point Robbins made a life altering career-change.

At Ballet Theater he had followed Fancy Free with a series of dances that integrated the classic vocabulary with modern subject matter: among them the be-bop ballet Interplay (1945) and Facsimile (1946), an angst-ridden exploration of a love triangle with a new score by Bernstein. But in 1949 he left Ballet Theater to join George Balanchine’s new-born New York City Ballet, where he was almost immediately named Associate Artistic Director. He danced numerous quasi-dramatic roles for Balanchine -- including Prodigal Son, Tyl Eulenspiegel and as a principal opposite the glamorous Tanaquil Le Clercq in Bourrée Fantasque -- before retiring from performance in the mid 1950’s; but it was as a choreographer that he made his mark. Ballets like The Guests (1949, score by Marc Blitzstein), Age of Anxiety (1950, to Bernstein), and the terrifying fable The Cage (1951, to Stravinsky), showcased his flair for drama, his all-American sass and energy, and his affinity for modern music. And his association with Balanchine gave him a security and sense of kinship that nourished his genius.

Robbins continued to work on Broadway, as the choreographer of two Irving Berlin shows, Miss Liberty (1949) and Call Me Madam (1950), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I (1951), and Two’s Company (1952), a revue starring Bette Davis. But in 1953 he stunned the theatrical community, if not the world at large, by appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he admitted to membership in the Communist Party during the 1930’s and named eight individuals who he said had also been members.

His testimony was denounced by many (including some of his family) for whom McCarthyism was only steps from Nazism, but Robbins refused to justify or explain himself beyond his public statement that he had "made a great mistake... in entering the Communist Party." His decision haunted him, however, and ultimately he placed it at the center of an autobiographical drama, The Poppa Piece, which he experimented with in workshops during the early 1990’s.

Ironically, his career seemed to take on added luster in this troubled time. He staged the All-American Ford 50th Anniversary Show (1953) for television with Ethel Merman and Mary Martin; co-directed The Pajama Game (1954) on Broadway; conceived, directed, and choreographed Peter Pan (1954) starring Mary Martin; directed Aaron Copland’s opera The Tender Land (1954); directed and co-choreographed Bells Are Ringing (1956) starring Judy Holliday; and choreographed the film version of The King and I (1956). Meanwhile at New York City Ballet he created two masterpieces, the lyrical Afternoon of a Faun (1953) and the hilarious send-up, The Concert (1956), among other works.

In 1957 he teamed up once again with Leonard Bernstein on a musical he had been discussing with him and playwright Arthur Laurents for some years: West Side Story, a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set against a background of gang warfare in New York’s Puerto Rican ghetto. Directed by Robbins, with his electrifying street-smart choreography integrated into the action, West Side Story was arguably the first "concept musical"; it broke the mold of the Broadway show and also established Robbins’s reputation as a perfectionistic, difficult taskmaster -- a reputation that was one factor in his dismissal as director of the 1961 film version. He won an Academy Award for his direction nonetheless -- sharing the Oscar with co-director Robert Wise -- as well as one for choreography.

After West Side Story Robbins left New York City Ballet for a time and formed his own company, Ballets: USA, to appear at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. For it he made the explosive New York Export: Opus Jazz (1958), a ballet without music called Moves (1959), and other works; the company toured extensively in Europe but -- despite enthusiastic notices and even an appearance at the Kennedy White House -- it failed to find an ongoing audience in the United States and was disbanded in 1961. In the meantime Robbins had also directed the ultimate backstage musical, Gypsy (1959) with Ethel Merman, and now he began to branch out into non-musical theater. In 1962 he directed the American premiere of Arthur Kopit’s mordant mother-son comedy, Oh, Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You In the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad and in 1963 a production of Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children starring Anne Bancroft.

Two Broadway hits followed -- both shows he had originally agreed to direct, then withdrew from, and finally returned to when each seemed in danger of shipwreck during out-of-town tryouts. But although reviews for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962) didn’t mention his name, and although for Funny Girl (1964) he was listed only as "production supervisor," he reshaped both those musicals radically. He got full credit and then some, however, for Fiddler on the Roof (1964), the musical setting of Sholem Aleichem stories which he choreographed and directed, bringing to life as an organic musical whole the lost world of the Russian shtetl.

He accomplished a similar feat with his mammoth staging of Stravinsky’s Les Noces (1965) for American Ballet Theatre, but then retreated from the pressures of huge collaborative productions. Broadway was moving in the direction of rock spectacles like Hair and Jesus Christ, Superstar, and Robbins didn’t want to move with it. With the help of a 1966 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he established the American Theatre Lab to explore experimental music-theater techniques, from dance to Noh drama, with a small handpicked company in a workshop setting for a period of two years.

Seemingly re-charged from this work, he re-emerged at City Ballet with Dances at a Gathering (1969), a poignant and playful celebration of youth and love which was widely hailed as a masterpiece. There followed a fertile creative period in which Robbins made such vastly different works as the moonlit, expressive In the Night (1970), The Goldberg Variations (1971), which explored Bach’s thematic geometry, and Watermill (1972), a Noh-like meditation on the passage of a man’s life. In addition he collaborated with Balanchine, with whom he now shared the title of Ballet Master, on dances for Firebird (1970) and Pulcinella (1972) -- a demonstration of the collegiality and mutual respect that had always marked their relationship. As Balanchine once said to him, speaking of the legendary Russian ballet master Marius Petipa: "Very few people can do. Petipa, you, me -- we can do."

Robbins never really left City Ballet again, except for a leave of absence in 1989 and forays into the theater for workshops of an adaptation of Brecht’s The Exception and the Rule (1987) and of The Poppa Piece (1991), and the triumphant staging of his anthology show, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (1989), for which he won his fifth Tony Award. Increasingly his work seemed to move in a more and more abstract direction, away from the character-driven dances of his youth -- a process reflected in the changes he made in his last collaboration with Bernstein. Premiered as Dybbuk (1974) and based on the S. Anski play, it was first revised as The Dybbuk Variations (1974) and then as A Suite of Dances (1980), a ballet-in-progress which Robbins kept trying to reduce to its essence.

Essence did not mean homogeneity, however: Robbins’s work was still as protean as ever, from the sensuous and jazzy lyricism of In G Major (1975) and the opera-house pyrotechnics of Four Seasons (1979) to the spiky Opus 19: The Dreamer (1979) and the elegiac In Memory of... (1985). He was still experimenting with contemporary music, with ballets to Philip Glass ( Glass Pieces, 1983) and Steve Reich ( Octet, 1985), but it was Bach who spoke most clearly to him in his last decade, when he made the spare, poetic A Suite of Dances (1994) for Mikhail Baryshnikov to Bach’s suites for unaccompanied cello; the deceptively simple Two- and Three-Part Inventions (1994) for the students of the School of American Ballet, and the exuberant Brandenburg (1997) for City Ballet.

By then he was in fragile health, following a bicycle accident in 1990 and heart-valve surgery in 1994; in 1996 he began showing signs of a form of Parkinson’s disease and his hearing was poor; yet he insisted on staging Les Noces for City Ballet (1998). It was the last thing he did; two months later he suffered a massive stroke, and he died at his home in New York on July 29, 1998.

Robbins had already been made Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, and had won 5 Donaldson Awards, 5 Tony Awards, 2 Academy Awards, 1 Emmy Award, the Kennedy Center Honors, and numerous other prizes; on the evening of his death, the lights of Broadway were dimmed for a moment in tribute. In the more than sixty years in which he had been active in the theater, he had transformed it because he never stopped asking questions. "Why can’t we do ballets about our own subjects, meaning our life here in America?" he asked before making Fancy Free . And, speaking of the collaboration that made West Side Story, "Why couldn’t we, in aspiration, try to bring our deepest talents together to the commercial theater?" His own work answered both questions in the affirmative.

©2001 by Amanda Vaill This article first appeared in Scribner's Encyclopedia of American Lives .

From the guide to the Jerome Robbins Papers, 1930-2001, 1940-1998, (The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.)

Jerome Robbins (born 11 October 1918 in New York City) was the younger of two children of Harry Rabinowitz, who emigrated to America from Poland in 1904, and his wife Lena Rips. Rabinowitz was at first a shopkeeper with a delicatessen on the Upper East Side of Manhattan; in the 1920’s he moved the family to Jersey City and then to Weehawken, New Jersey, where he and a brother-in-law established the Comfort Corset Company. Young Jerome, who showed an early aptitude for music, dancing, and theatrics, attended schools in Weehawken and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1935. Intending to study either chemistry or journalism, he matriculated at New York University in the autumn of 1935; but the Depression took a turn for the worse in 1936 and his family could no longer support his education -- especially considering that he was, by his own account, failing two courses (math and French) out of five. Unwilling to work in the corset factory, he tried to find employment in some form of show business; and through his sister Sonia, who had already danced professionally with Irma Duncan and Senya Gluck-Sandor’s Dance Center, he got an apprenticeship with Sandor’s company.

Gluck-Sandor was a hybrid as a choreographer -- ballet-trained, dedicated to modern dance, but also a veteran of Broadway, burlesque, and vaudeville -- and his expressive, theatrical style attracted Robbins from the outset. But the fledgling dancer -- who like other members of his family took the surname of Robbins for work in the theater -- also studied ballet with Ella Daganova and in 1937 appeared in the Yiddish Art Theatre production of The Brothers Ashkenazi, directed by and starring Maurice Schwartz, for which Sandor did the choreography. In the summer of 1937 Robbins began dancing and choreographing at Tamiment, a progressive-movement resort in Pennsylvania’s Pocono mountains which featured a resident singing-acting-dancing troupe and weekend revues starring emerging talents like Danny Kaye, Imogene Coca, and Carol Channing. His work from this period consisted mainly of burlesque-like blackout sketches on the one hand and dramatic works with strong social content, like Death of a Loyalist or Strange Fruit, (set to Abel Meeropol’s song about a lynching) on the other. But he was beginning to gain an audience: some of his dances were performed under the auspices of the Theatre Arts Committee at New York’s 92nd Street YMHA and others as part of The Straw Hat Revue, which Tamiment producer Max Liebman opened on Broadway in 1939

Robbins spent three summers at Tamiment and taking on one-shot roles in ballet performances at Jones Beach, the New York World’s Fair, and elsewhere; he found work during the regular theater season in the Broadway choruses of Great Lady (1938), Stars in Your Eyes (1939), and Keep Off the Grass (1940) -- the last-named choreographed by George Balanchine. In the summer of 1940 he was accepted into the recently-formed Ballet Theatre, where he soon advanced from the corps de ballet to solo roles which showed off the taut fluidity with which he compensated for his lack of heroic classical technique: the Young Man in Agnes De Mille’s Three Virgins and a Devil, an apple-munching Hermes in Helen of Troy, and -- the role which made him famous -- the tragic puppet in Petroushka .

He had been burning to choreograph a ballet himself for the company, preferably one with an American theme, to American music; but all his ideas were too grandiose for the perennially strapped company to consider. Encouraged to "think small" he came up with the idea for a ballet about three sailors on shore leave in New York City. To write the score he sought out the services of a young unknown composer named Leonard Bernstein, and Ballet Theatre’s Oliver Smith agreed to design the scenery. On April 18, 1944, Fancy Free premiered at the Metropolitan Opera House to a raucous two dozen curtain calls; and in December of that year On the Town, a musical comedy based on the ballet, with music by Bernstein, dances by Robbins, sets by Smith (who also produced), and book and lyrics by a pair of Bernstein’s cabaret buddies named Betty Comden and Adolph Green, had a fairy-tale opening on Broadway. From that moment until his death more than fifty years later Robbins’s primacy on Broadway and in ballet was assured; but he did more than reach the top in his two spheres of influence. He changed each of his worlds from the inside out.

On Broadway he quickly established himself as the choreographer of the moment at a time when musical comedies were evolving out of the stylish but contentless song-and-dance anthologies that had showcased the talents of the Gershwins and Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hart. Robbins shows -- and as he began to direct as well as create ideas and dances for them, they truly were Robbins shows -- had, or aimed to have, a story, characters, a point.

So the Roaring Twenties musical, Billion Dollar Baby (1946 -- with book and lyrics by Comden and Green and music by Morton Gould), revolved around a gold-digging bathing beauty who serially married for money; 1947's High Button Shoes (his first collaboration with composer Jule Styne) was a nostalgic romp set in New Jersey in 1913 and featuring a Keystone Kops ballet. And 1948’s Look, Ma, I’m Dancin’ (which he co-directed with George Abbot, and for which he received the credit "conceived by Jerome Robbins") was the autobiographical backstage story of a super-ambitious dancer-choreographer’s collision with the brewery heiress backing his ballet company; his changed character is mirrored in the two ballets he creates -- the first a brash, over-complicated expression of youthful hubris, the second altogether subtler, more thoughtful and human.

Look, Ma was succeeded by one of Robbins’s rare flops, a show called That’s the Ticket (1948), which Robbins directed but did not choreograph. An overly whimsical mishmash, it closed in Philadelphia after ten days. But at this point Robbins made a life altering career-change.

At Ballet Theater he had followed Fancy Free with a series of dances that integrated the classic vocabulary with modern subject matter: among them the be-bop ballet Interplay (1945) and Facsimile (1946), an angst-ridden exploration of a love triangle with a new score by Bernstein. But in 1949 he left Ballet Theater to join George Balanchine’s new-born New York City Ballet, where he was almost immediately named Associate Artistic Director. He danced numerous quasi-dramatic roles for Balanchine -- including Prodigal Son, Tyl Eulenspiegel and as a principal opposite the glamorous Tanaquil Le Clercq in Bourrée Fantasque -- before retiring from performance in the mid 1950’s; but it was as a choreographer that he made his mark. Ballets like The Guests (1949, score by Marc Blitzstein), Age of Anxiety (1950, to Bernstein), and the terrifying fable The Cage (1951, to Stravinsky), showcased his flair for drama, his all-American sass and energy, and his affinity for modern music. And his association with Balanchine gave him a security and sense of kinship that nourished his genius.

Robbins continued to work on Broadway, as the choreographer of two Irving Berlin shows, Miss Liberty (1949) and Call Me Madam (1950), Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I (1951), and Two’s Company (1952), a revue starring Bette Davis. But in 1953 he stunned the theatrical community, if not the world at large, by appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he admitted to membership in the Communist Party during the 1930’s and named eight individuals who he said had also been members.

His testimony was denounced by many (including some of his family) for whom McCarthyism was only steps from Nazism, but Robbins refused to justify or explain himself beyond his public statement that he had "made a great mistake... in entering the Communist Party." His decision haunted him, however, and ultimately he placed it at the center of an autobiographical drama, The Poppa Piece, which he experimented with in workshops during the early 1990’s.

Ironically, his career seemed to take on added luster in this troubled time. He staged the All-American Ford 50th Anniversary Show (1953) for television with Ethel Merman and Mary Martin; co-directed The Pajama Game (1954) on Broadway; conceived, directed, and choreographed Peter Pan (1954) starring Mary Martin; directed Aaron Copland’s opera The Tender Land (1954); directed and co-choreographed Bells Are Ringing (1956) starring Judy Holliday; and choreographed the film version of The King and I (1956). Meanwhile at New York City Ballet he created two masterpieces, the lyrical Afternoon of a Faun (1953) and the hilarious send-up, The Concert (1956), among other works.

In 1957 he teamed up once again with Leonard Bernstein on a musical he had been discussing with him and playwright Arthur Laurents for some years: West Side Story, a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set against a background of gang warfare in New York’s Puerto Rican ghetto. Directed by Robbins, with his electrifying street-smart choreography integrated into the action, West Side Story was arguably the first "concept musical"; it broke the mold of the Broadway show and also established Robbins’s reputation as a perfectionistic, difficult taskmaster -- a reputation that was one factor in his dismissal as director of the 1961 film version. He won an Academy Award for his direction nonetheless -- sharing the Oscar with co-director Robert Wise -- as well as one for choreography.

After West Side Story Robbins left New York City Ballet for a time and formed his own company, Ballets: USA, to appear at the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. For it he made the explosive New York Export: Opus Jazz (1958), a ballet without music called Moves (1959), and other works; the company toured extensively in Europe but -- despite enthusiastic notices and even an appearance at the Kennedy White House -- it failed to find an ongoing audience in the United States and was disbanded in 1961. In the meantime Robbins had also directed the ultimate backstage musical, Gypsy (1959) with Ethel Merman, and now he began to branch out into non-musical theater. In 1962 he directed the American premiere of Arthur Kopit’s mordant mother-son comedy, Oh, Dad, Poor Dad, Mama’s Hung You In the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad and in 1963 a production of Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children starring Anne Bancroft.

Two Broadway hits followed -- both shows he had originally agreed to direct, then withdrew from, and finally returned to when each seemed in danger of shipwreck during out-of-town tryouts. But although reviews for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962) didn’t mention his name, and although for Funny Girl (1964) he was listed only as "production supervisor," he reshaped both those musicals radically. He got full credit and then some, however, for Fiddler on the Roof (1964), the musical setting of Sholem Aleichem stories which he choreographed and directed, bringing to life as an organic musical whole the lost world of the Russian shtetl.

He accomplished a similar feat with his mammoth staging of Stravinsky’s Les Noces (1965) for American Ballet Theatre, but then retreated from the pressures of huge collaborative productions. Broadway was moving in the direction of rock spectacles like Hair and Jesus Christ, Superstar, and Robbins didn’t want to move with it. With the help of a 1966 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, he established the American Theatre Lab to explore experimental music-theater techniques, from dance to Noh drama, with a small handpicked company in a workshop setting for a period of two years.

Seemingly re-charged from this work, he re-emerged at City Ballet with Dances at a Gathering (1969), a poignant and playful celebration of youth and love which was widely hailed as a masterpiece. There followed a fertile creative period in which Robbins made such vastly different works as the moonlit, expressive In the Night (1970), The Goldberg Variations (1971), which explored Bach’s thematic geometry, and Watermill (1972), a Noh-like meditation on the passage of a man’s life. In addition he collaborated with Balanchine, with whom he now shared the title of Ballet Master, on dances for Firebird (1970) and Pulcinella (1972) -- a demonstration of the collegiality and mutual respect that had always marked their relationship. As Balanchine once said to him, speaking of the legendary Russian ballet master Marius Petipa: "Very few people can do. Petipa, you, me -- we can do."

Robbins never really left City Ballet again, except for a leave of absence in 1989 and forays into the theater for workshops of an adaptation of Brecht’s The Exception and the Rule (1987) and of The Poppa Piece (1991), and the triumphant staging of his anthology show, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (1989), for which he won his fifth Tony Award. Increasingly his work seemed to move in a more and more abstract direction, away from the character-driven dances of his youth -- a process reflected in the changes he made in his last collaboration with Bernstein. Premiered as Dybbuk (1974) and based on the S. Anski play, it was first revised as The Dybbuk Variations (1974) and then as A Suite of Dances (1980), a ballet-in-progress which Robbins kept trying to reduce to its essence.

Essence did not mean homogeneity, however: Robbins’s work was still as protean as ever, from the sensuous and jazzy lyricism of In G Major (1975) and the opera-house pyrotechnics of Four Seasons (1979) to the spiky Opus 19: The Dreamer (1979) and the elegiac In Memory of... (1985). He was still experimenting with contemporary music, with ballets to Philip Glass ( Glass Pieces, 1983) and Steve Reich ( Octet, 1985), but it was Bach who spoke most clearly to him in his last decade, when he made the spare, poetic A Suite of Dances (1994) for Mikhail Baryshnikov to Bach’s suites for unaccompanied cello; the deceptively simple Two- and Three-Part Inventions (1994) for the students of the School of American Ballet, and the exuberant Brandenburg (1997) for City Ballet.

By then he was in fragile health, following a bicycle accident in 1990 and heart-valve surgery in 1994; in 1996 he began showing signs of a form of Parkinson’s disease and his hearing was poor; yet he insisted on staging Les Noces for City Ballet (1998). It was the last thing he did; two months later he suffered a massive stroke, and he died at his home in New York on July 29, 1998.

Robbins had already been made Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, and had won 5 Donaldson Awards, 5 Tony Awards, 2 Academy Awards, 1 Emmy Award, the Kennedy Center Honors, and numerous other prizes; on the evening of his death, the lights of Broadway were dimmed for a moment in tribute. In the more than sixty years in which he had been active in the theater, he had transformed it because he never stopped asking questions. "Why can’t we do ballets about our own subjects, meaning our life here in America?" he asked before making Fancy Free . And, speaking of the collaboration that made West Side Story, "Why couldn’t we, in aspiration, try to bring our deepest talents together to the commercial theater?" His own work answered both questions in the affirmative.

c2001 by Amanda Vaill This article first appeared in Scribner's Encyclopedia of American Lives .

From the guide to the Jerome Robbins photographs, ca. 1890-1994, (The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Jerome Robbins Foundation [clippings]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph). Fiddler on the Roof / book by Joseph Stein, based on Sholem Aleichem stories by special permission of Arnold Perl, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, music by Jerry Bock ; directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, 2004 - performance file. University of Guelph
referencedIn Ben Shahn papers, 1879-1990, bulk 1933-1970 Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution
referencedIn Hayward, Leland, 1902-1971. Records of Ballets: U.S.A. (Company). New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph). West Side Story / music by Leonard Bernstein ; lyrics by Stephen Sondeim ; book by Arthur Laurents ; based on a conception of Jerome Robbins ; staged and directed by Peter Dearing, 1965 - house program. University of Guelph
creatorOf Zwecker, Yossi. 880-01 Sipur ha-parvarim. HCL Technical Services, Harvard College Library
creatorOf Theatre Aquarius Archives (University of Guelph). The King and I / music by Richard Rodgers, books and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on "Anna and the king of Siam" by Margaret Landon, original choreography by Jerome Robbins ; directed and choreographed by Max Reimer, 1999 - performance files. University of Guelph
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Musical comedies. Funny girl [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Jerome Robbins personal papers, 1896-2000 and undated (1931-1998, bulk dates) New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Walczak, Barbara,. Interview with Barbara Walczak. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Jerome Robbins photographs, ca. 1890-1994 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
referencedIn Rome, Harold, 1908-1993. The Harold Rome papers, 1873-1988 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Arthur Laurents Papers, circa 1900-2011, (bulk 1960-2011) Music Division Library of Congress
referencedIn Howard D. Rothschild papers, 1921-1989. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Thomas Skelton papers, circa 1953-1994 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
creatorOf Rittman, Trude. Miscellaneous manuscripts. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Schnitzer, Robert C. Robert C. Schnitzer and Marcella Cisney papers, ca. 1890-1989. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Tharp, Twyla,. Interview with Twyla Tharp. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Kennedy, Adrienne. Papers, ca. 1954-1992. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
referencedIn American Ballet Theatre records, 1936-ca. 1967 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
creatorOf Wise, Robert, 1914-2005. Natalie Wood : West side story. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Dance Notation Bureau Collection, 1930- The Ohio State University. Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee Theatre Research Institute.
referencedIn Leonard Bernstein Collection, circa 1900-1994, (bulk 1933-1990) Music Division Library of Congress
referencedIn Leland, Sara,. Interview with Sara Leland. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Tamiment Playhouse Records, 1927-1987 Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
referencedIn Hart, Moss, 1904-1961. Moss Hart and Kitty Carlisle papers, 1922-1962, 1988. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Alonso, Alicia, 1921-. Interview with Alicia Alonso. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Ballets: U.S.A. records, circa 1956-1962 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
referencedIn Papers of Robert Graves: Correspondence (arranged by correspondent), c1909 to 2004 St John's College, Oxford
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Jerome Robbins scrapbooks [microform]. 1937-1985. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Moross, Jerome, 1913-1983. Papers, 1924-2000. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Trude Rittman scores, ca. 1934-ca. 1975 The New York Public Library. Music Division.
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Musical comedies. Peter Pan [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Bernstein, Leonard, 1918-1990. Leonard Bernstein collection : Part II, circa 1900-1994 (bulk 1933-1990). Library of Congress
referencedIn Tamiment Playhouse. Tamiment Playhouse photographs [graphic]. New-York Historical Society
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. [Programs]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Tamiment Playhouse. Tamiment Playhouse oral histories and shows, 1955-1988. Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969. Ben Shahn papers, 1879-1990 (bulk 1933-1970). Smithsonian Archives of American Art
referencedIn Tetley, Glen,. Interview with Glen Tetley. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Jerome Robbins Papers, 1930-2001 (bulk 1940-1998). New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Rittman, Trude,. Interview with Trude Rittman. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Villella, Edward, 1936-. Interview with Edward Villella. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Papers of Robert Graves: Performing arts and film, c1948 to c2003 St John's College, Oxford
creatorOf Zipprodt, Patricia. Patricia Zipprodt papers and designs, 1925-1999. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Parmenia Migel papers, 1945-1990. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Jerome Robbins' Broadway New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn American Vaudeville Museum collection, 1845-2007, (bulk 1910-1940) University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
referencedIn Brochu, Jim. Zero hour : a play in two acts / by Jim Brochu, 2009. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Walter Terry papers, 1913-1982 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
referencedIn Nicolas Slonimsky Collection, 1873-1997, (bulk 1920-1990) Music Division Library of Congress
creatorOf Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph). West Side Story / based on a conception by Jerome Robbins, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, entire original production directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, originally produced on Broadway by Robert E. Griffith and Harold S. Prince (by arrangement with Rogers L. Stevens), 1998 - videotape. University of Guelph
referencedIn Tamiment Playhouse. Records, 1927-1987 (bulk 1933-1960). Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Verdy, Violette, 1933-. Interview with Violette Verdy. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Robert C. Schnitzer and Marcella Cisney papers, ca.1890-1989 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Hayward, Leland, 1902-1971. Leland Hayward papers, 1920-1995 (bulk 1920-1974). New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Correspondence with Agnes de Mille, 1945-1981. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Mazzo, Kay,. Interview with Kay Mazzo. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Bernstein, Leonard, 1918-1990. Leonard Bernstein collection : Part I, circa 1900-1994 (bulk 1933-1990). Library of Congress
referencedIn Rorem, Ned, 1923-. Interview with Ned Rorem. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Aaron Copland Collection, 1841-1991, (bulk 1911-1990) Music Division Library of Congress
creatorOf Shaw Festival Collection (University of Guelph). On The Town / music by Leonard Bernstein ; book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green ; based on an idea by Jerome Robbins ; directed by Susan Cox, 1992 - teacher's study guide. University of Guelph
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Motion pictures. West Side story [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Contemporary Dance Trust Archive, 1957-1998 V&A Museum: Department of Theatre and Performance
referencedIn Gould, Morton, 1913-1996. Morton Gould papers, 1920-1996 (bulk 1937-1995). Library of Congress
referencedIn Blum, Anthony,. Interview with Anthony Blum. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Guthman, Louise. Thomas Skelton Collection, circa 1953-1994. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Theatre Aquarius Archives. West Side Story / based on a conception of Jerome Robbins ; book by Arthur Laurents ; music Leonard Bernstein ; lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, 1994 - House Program. University of Guelph
referencedIn Seymour, Lynn, 1939-. Interview with Lynn Seymour. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph). Fiddler on the Roof / book by Joseph Stein, based on Sholem Aleichem stories by special permission of Arnold Perl, lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, music by Jerry Bock ; directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, designer, Eric Bunnell, 2004 - technical drawings. University of Guelph
creatorOf Shaw Festival Collection (University of Guelph). On the town / music by Leonard Bernstein, book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green; based on idea by Jerome Robbins; directed by Susan Cox, 1992 - videotape. University of Guelph
referencedIn Sutherland, Paul,. Interview with Paul Sutherland. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Rittman, Trude. [Original compositions and arrangements / Trude Rittman]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Rome, Harold, 1908-1993. The Harold Rome papers, 1873-1988 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
creatorOf Jerome Robbins Papers, 1930-2001, 1940-1998 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
referencedIn Patricia Zipprodt papers and designs, 1925-1999 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Wright, Rebecca,. Interview with Rebecca Wright. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Appointment books, 1944-1945. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn The Virgil Thomson Papers, 1804-1990 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
referencedIn Osborn, Paul, 1901-. Papers, 1926-1964. Wisconsin Historical Society, Newspaper Project
referencedIn Thomas, Richard, 1926-. Interview with Richard Thomas. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn The Railroad hour, radio program [sound recording], 1948-1954 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
referencedIn Kirstein, Lincoln, 1907-1996. Papers, ca. 1914-1991. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Yuriko, 1920-. Interview with Yuriko. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Shaw Festival Collection (University of Guelph). On The Town / music by Leonard Bernstein ; book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green ; based on idea by Jerome Robbins ; directed by Susan Cox, 1992 - performance file. University of Guelph
creatorOf Theatre Aquarius Archives (University of Guelph). The King and I / music by Richard Rodgers ; book and Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II ; original choreography by Jerome Robbins ; directed by Max Reimer, 1999 - House Program. University of Guelph
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Correspondence, 1947, 1970-1974. 7 items. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Clifford, John, 1947-. Interview with John Clifford. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Clarke, Mary, 1923-. Correspondence with Lillian Moore, 1950-61. (9 items). New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Correspondence and contracts. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Michael Stewart Papers, 1948-1987 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Feld, Eliot,. Interview with Eliot Feld. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Ben Shaktman Papers, 1949-2009 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
creatorOf Stratford Festival Collection. West Side Story / based on a conception of Jerome Robbins ; book by Arthur Laurents ; music by Leonard Bernstein ; lyrics by Stephen Sondheim ; directed by Jerome Robbins, 1999 - House Program. University of Guelph
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Correspondence, 1945-1981, with Agnes de Mille. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Rodgers, Richard, 1902-1979. Musical comedies. King and I [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Thomson, Virgil, 1896-1989. The Virgil Thomson papers, 1804-1990 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
creatorOf Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph). West Side Story / based on a conception of Jerome Robbins, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim ; directed by Susan Ferley, 2006 - house program. University of Guelph
creatorOf Lehman, Ernest, 1915-. West side story : screenplay / by Ernest Lehman. Broken Bow Public Library
referencedIn Horvath, Ian,. Interview with Ian Horvath. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Styne, Jule, 1905-1994. Buzz Miller collection of playscripts. 1956-[1968?] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Gould, Morton, 1913-1996. I'm old fashioned : Astaire variations : musical variations on Jerome Kern's I'm old fashioned / Morton Gould. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Fosse, Bob, 1927-1987. Musical comedies. Bells are ringing [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Theatre Aquarius Archives (University of Guelph). The King and I / music by Richard Rodgers, book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, based on "Anna and the King of Siam" by Margaret Landon, original choreographed by Jerome Robbins ; directed by Max Reimer, 1999 - Reviews and Articles. University of Guelph
referencedIn Martins, Peter,. Interview with Peter Martins. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn McBride, Patricia, 1942-. Interview with Patricia McBride. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn [Programs]. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Von Aroldingen, Karin,. Interview with Karin Von Aroldingen. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Jerome Robbins scrapbooks. 1986-1990. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph). West Side Story / based on a conception by Jerome Robbins, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, entire original production directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, originally produced on Broadway by Robert E. Griffith and Harold S. Prince (by arrangement with Roger L. Stevens), 1998 - house program. University of Guelph
creatorOf Stratford Festival Collection (University of Guelph). West Side Story / based on a conception of Jerome Robbins ; book by Arthur Laurents ; music by Leonard Bernstein ; lyrics by Stephen Sondheim ; directed by Gary Griffin ; choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, 2009 - house program. University of Guelph
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Musical comedies. Look, ma, I'm dancin' [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Wilson, Sallie,. Interview with Sallie Wilson. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn George Brinton Beal papers, circus collection, and other theatrical collections, 1862-1969. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Correspondence. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Morton Gould Papers, 1920-1996, (bulk 1937-1995) Music Division Library of Congress
referencedIn George Balanchine archive, 1924-1989 (inclusive), 1961-1983 (bulk). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Ambrose DuBek dance photograph collection, 1952-1963 and undated. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Thomson, Virgil, 1896-1989. The Virgil Thomson papers, 1804-1990 (inclusive). Yale University, Music Library
referencedIn Ter-Arutunian, Rouben, 1920-1992,. Interview with Rouben Ter-Arutunian. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Musical comedies. High button shoes [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Saddler, Donald,. Interview with Donald Saddler. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Maule, Michael,. Interview with Michael Maule. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Papers of Robert Graves: Correspondence (arranged by subject), 1915 to 1996 St John's College, Oxford
referencedIn Kriza, John, 1919-1975,. Interview with John Kriza. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Skelton, Thomas R. Thomas Skelton papers, circa 1953-1994. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Wise, Robert, 1914-2005. Natalie Wood [Multimédia multisupport] : West side story. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Kirstein, Lincoln, 1907-1996. Autograph and typed letters and notes (29) : New York, to John M. Thayer, 1976-1989. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Sumner, Carol,. Interview with Carol Sumner. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Buzz Miller collection of playscripts, 1956-[1968? The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
creatorOf Shaw Festival Collection (University of Guelph). On The Town / music by Leonard Bernstein ; book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green ; based on an idea by Jerome Robbins ; directed by Susan Cox, 1992 - house program. University of Guelph
referencedIn Gruen, John,. Interview with Michael Coleman and Jennifer Penney. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Tomasson, Helgi, 1942-. Interview with Helgi Tomasson. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Jerome Robbins personal papers, 1896-2000 and undated, 1931-1998, dates The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
referencedIn Jerome Moross Papers, 1924-2000 Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Stravinsky-Diaghilev Foundation research files, 1920-1989. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Musical comedies. Fiddler on the roof. [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Ballets: U.S.A. (Company). [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Miscellaneous manuscripts. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Morris, June,. Interview with June Morris. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Leland Hayward papers, 1920-1995, 1920-1974 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn The Harold Rome Papers, 1873-1988 (inclusive) Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Musical comedies. Call me madam [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. The guests / [choreography: Jerome Robbins ; music: Marc Blitzstein]. Ohio State University Libraries
referencedIn Ashley, Merrill,. Interview with Merrill Ashley. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Jerome Robbins' Broadway: typescript, 1991. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Nault, Fernand,. Interview with Fernand Nault. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Copland, Aaron, 1900-1990. Aaron Copland oral history. Yale University Library
creatorOf Robbins, Jerome. Musical comedies. Concert varieties. [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Tamiment Playhouse Records, 1927-1987 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
referencedIn Tamiment Playhouse Photographs, Bulk, 1930-1959, 1920s-1987, (Bulk 1930s-1950s) Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives
creatorOf Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph). West Side Story / music by Leonard Bernstein ; lyrics by Stephen Sondheim ; book by Arthur Laurents ; based on a conception of Jerome Robbins ; directed by John Gerry, 1981 - house program. University of Guelph
referencedIn Lincoln Kirstein papers, ca. 1914-1991 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
creatorOf Bernstein, Leonard, 1918-1990. Musical comedies. On the town [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Philippe Halsman theatrical photographs, 1947-1969 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph). West Side Story / based on a conception by Jerome Robbins, book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, entire original production directed and choreographed by Jerome Robbins, originally produced on Broadway by Robert E. Griffith and Harold S. Prince (by arrangement with Rogers L. Stevens), 1998 - performance file. University of Guelph
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Alonso, Alicia, 1921- person
associatedWith American Ballet Theatre. corporateBody
associatedWith American Museum of Vaudeville corporateBody
associatedWith American Theatre Laboratory (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith American Theatre Laboratory (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Ashley, Merrill, person
correspondedWith Balanchine, George. person
associatedWith Ballets: U.S.A. (Company) corporateBody
associatedWith Ballets: U.S.A. (Company) corporateBody
associatedWith Ballets: U.S.A. (Company) corporateBody
associatedWith Ballets: U.S.A. (Company) corporateBody
associatedWith Ballets: U.S.A. (Company) corporateBody
associatedWith Beal, George Brinton. person
associatedWith Berman, Eugene, 1899- person
correspondedWith Bernstein, Leonard, 1918-1990. person
associatedWith Blum, Anthony, person
associatedWith Bock, Jerry. person
associatedWith Brecht, Bertolt, 1898-1956. person
associatedWith Brochu, Jim. person
associatedWith Clarke, Mary, 1923- person
associatedWith Clifford, John, 1947- person
associatedWith Contemporary Dance Trust corporateBody
associatedWith Copland, Aaron, 1900-1990. person
associatedWith Cullen, Frank, 1936- person
associatedWith Dance Notation Bureau corporateBody
associatedWith De Mille, Agnes person
associatedWith De Mille, Agnes person
associatedWith DuBek, Ambrose. person
associatedWith Feld, Eliot, person
associatedWith Festival of Two Worlds. corporateBody
correspondedWith Gould, Morton, 1913-1996. person
associatedWith Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Grand Theatre Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Graves, Robert Ranke, 1895-1985 person
associatedWith Graves, Robert Windham, 1858-1934 person
associatedWith Halsman, Philippe person
associatedWith Harold Rome person
associatedWith Hart, Moss, 1904-1961. person
associatedWith Hayward, Leland, 1902-1971. person
associatedWith Horvath, Ian, person
associatedWith Inbal (Company) corporateBody
associatedWith Kennedy, Adrienne. person
associatedWith Kirstein, Lincoln, 1907-1996. person
associatedWith Kongelige Danske ballet. corporateBody
associatedWith Kopit, Arthur L. person
associatedWith Kriza, John, 1919-1975, person
correspondedWith Laurents, Arthur person
associatedWith Laurents, Arthur West Side story. person
associatedWith Lehman, Ernest, 1915- person
associatedWith Leland, Sara, person
associatedWith Martins, Peter, person
associatedWith Maule, Michael, person
associatedWith Mazzo, Kay, person
associatedWith McBride, Patricia, 1942- person
associatedWith McNeilly, Donald, 1945- person
correspondedWith Migel, Parmenia. person
associatedWith Miller, Buzz person
associatedWith Moross, Jerome, 1913-1983. person
associatedWith Morris, June, person
associatedWith Nault, Fernand, person
associatedWith New York City Ballet. corporateBody
associatedWith New York Public Library, Billy Rose Theatre Collection, Theatre on Film and Tape Archive. corporateBody
associatedWith Nijinsky, Waslaw, 1890-1950 person
associatedWith Opéra de Paris. Ballet. corporateBody
associatedWith Osborn, Paul, 1901- person
associatedWith Railroad Hour Radio Program corporateBody
associatedWith Rittman, Trude, person
associatedWith Rome, Harold, 1908-1993. person
associatedWith Rorem, Ned, 1923- person
correspondedWith Rothschild, Howard D. person
associatedWith Royal Ballet. corporateBody
associatedWith Saddler, Donald, person
associatedWith Schnitzer, Robert C. person
associatedWith Seymour, Lynn, 1939- person
associatedWith Shahn, Ben, 1898-1969. person
associatedWith Shaktman, Ben, 1937- person
associatedWith Shaw Festival Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Shaw Festival Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Shaw Festival Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Shaw Festival Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Skelton, Thomas R. person
associatedWith Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894-1995 person
associatedWith Sondheim, Stephen. person
associatedWith Stewart, Michael, 1929-1987 person
associatedWith Stratford Festival Collection. corporateBody
associatedWith Stratford Festival Collection (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Stravinsky-Diaghilev Foundation. corporateBody
associatedWith Styne, Jule, 1905-1994. person
associatedWith Styne, Julie. 1905-1994. person
associatedWith Sumner, Carol, person
associatedWith Sutherland, Paul, person
associatedWith Tamiment Playhouse. corporateBody
associatedWith Ter-Arutunian, Rouben, 1920-1992, person
correspondedWith Terry, Walter person
associatedWith Tetley, Glen, person
associatedWith Tharp, Twyla, person
associatedWith Theatre Aquarius Archives. corporateBody
associatedWith Theatre Aquarius Archives (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Theatre Aquarius Archives (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Theatre Aquarius Archives (University of Guelph) corporateBody
associatedWith Thomas, Richard, 1926- person
associatedWith Thomson, Virgil, 1896- person
associatedWith Thomson, Virgil, 1896-1989. person
associatedWith Tomasson, Helgi, 1942- person
associatedWith Verdy, Violette, 1933- person
associatedWith Villella, Edward, 1936- person
associatedWith Von Aroldingen, Karin, person
associatedWith Walczak, Barbara, person
associatedWith Wilson, Sallie, person
associatedWith Wright, Rebecca, person
associatedWith Yuriko, 1920- person
associatedWith Zipprodt, Patricia person
associatedWith Zipprodt, Patricia. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)--New York
United States
Subject
Musical comedies--Bells are ringing
Musical comeides--Jerome Robbins' Broadway
Musical comedies--King and I
Experimental theater
Musical comedies--Fiddler on the roof
Musical comedies--On the town
Dancers--Scrapbooks
Musical comedies--Funny girl
Choreography--United States--20th century
Musical comedies--Peter Pan
Experimental theater--New York (State)--New York
Musical comedies--West Side story
Choreography--20th century
Ballets--Stories, plots, etc
Musical comedies--Gypsy
Musical comedies--Jerome Robbins' Broadway
Occupation
Choreographer
Function

Person

Birth 1918-10-11

Death 1998-07-29

Americans

French,

Italian,

Japanese,

German,

English,

Dutch; Flemish,

Hebrew

Information

Permalink: http://n2t.net/ark:/99166/w6s7627m

Ark ID: w6s7627m

SNAC ID: 59974624