Robbins, Jerome

orig. Jerome Rabinowitz

born Oct. 11, 1918, New York, N.Y., U.S.
died July 29, 1998, New York City

U.S. dancer, choreographer, and director.

He joined Ballet Theatre (later American Ballet Theatre) as a dancer in 1940. His first choreographic success was Fancy Free (set to a musical score by Leonard Bernstein), which was expanded into the musical On the Town (1944). He joined the New York City Ballet in 1948 and soon became associate director (1950–59), creating many works for the company. For the Broadway stage he choreographed successful musicals such as The King and I (1951; film, 1956), West Side Story (1957; film, 1961), Gypsy (1959; television, 1993), and Fiddler on the Roof (1964). Returning to the New York City Ballet, he was resident choreographer and ballet master (1969–83) and then codirector with Peter Martins until retiring in 1990. His choreography is marked by a blend of modern, academic, and popular dance styles in a variety of American idioms.

Jerome Robbins in Fancy Free, 1944.

Fred Fehl

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▪ 1999

      American choreographer and director (b. Oct. 11, 1918, New York, N.Y.—d. July 29, 1998, New York), was considered one of the premier choreographers of the 20th century and the best-ever of American-born ballet choreographers. He created such ballet classics as Fancy Free, Dances at a Gathering, and The Goldberg Variations and choreographed and directed such innovative Broadway musicals as West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof. Robbins studied the violin and piano and accompanied his sister to dance classes when he was a child and, after attending New York University for a year, began to study dance and theatre seriously. He made his professional stage debut in 1937 with a walk-on role in a Yiddish Art Theater production of The Brothers Ashkenazi and began choreographing for summer shows at a resort in the Pocono Mountains. He danced (1938-40) in the choruses of several Broadway musicals before joining (1940) Ballet Theatre (later American Ballet Theatre), where he soon was dancing solo roles. His first choreography for a ballet company, Fancy Free, featuring a trio of sailors on shore leave dancing and cavorting to music by the then-unknown composer Leonard Bernstein, appeared in 1944 and was an instant success. Late that same year it was expanded into the Broadway musical On the Town, and that in turn was filmed in 1949. He choreographed such Broadway hits as High Button Shoes (1947), Call Me Madam (1950), The King and I (1951), Peter Pan (1954) and Gypsy (1959), which he also directed. His two most successful musicals were West Side Story (1957), which he conceived, directed, and choreographed and for which Bernstein composed the music, and Fiddler on the Roof (1964), his last musical. The 1989 Jerome Robbins' Broadway was a compilation of numbers from shows Robbins had choreographed and/or directed. For the motion-picture version of West Side Story (1961), Robbins won two Academy Awards—for direction (shared with Robert Wise) and choreography. Although Robbins became associate artistic director for the New York City Ballet (NYCB) in 1949, he continued to choreograph ballets, among them The Cage (1951), Afternoon of a Faun (1953), and the comic masterpiece The Concert (1956). From 1958 to 1961 he had his own small company, Ballets: USA, and for that company he created N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz (1958) and his dance in silence, Moves (1959). From 1969 Robbins devoted his talents to NYCB, creating numerous works—such as Dances at a Gathering (1969), In the Night (1970), The Goldberg Variations (1971), Watermill (1972), The Four Seasons (1979), and Glass Pieces (1983)—and serving as ballet master until 1983, when he and Peter Martins became co-ballet masters in chief of NYCB shortly before the death of its director, George Balanchine. Robbins left that post in 1990 but continued to create new works for the company, notably West Side Story Suite (1995), which featured numbers from the stage musical adapted for ballet dancers, and Brandenburg (1997), his last new work.

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▪ American choreographer
original surname  Rabinowitz 
born Oct. 11, 1918, New York, N.Y., U.S.
died July 29, 1998, New York City
 one of the most popular and imaginative American choreographers of the 20th century. Robbins was first known for his skillful use of contemporary American themes in ballets and Broadway and Hollywood musicals. He won acclaim for highly innovative ballets structured within the traditional framework of classical dance movements.

      The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, Rabinowitz studied chemistry for one year at New York University before embarking on a career as a dancer in 1936. He studied a wide array of dance traditions, appeared with the Gluck Sandor–Felicia Sorel Dance Center, and danced in the chorus of several Broadway musicals. In 1940 he joined the Ballet Theater (now the American Ballet Theatre), where he soon began dancing such important roles as Petrouchka. (About this time he and his parents changed the family name to Robbins.) In 1944 Robbins choreographed his first, spectacularly successful ballet, Fancy Free, with a musical score by the young composer Leonard Bernstein (Bernstein, Leonard). This ballet, featuring three American sailors on shore leave in New York City during World War II, displayed Robbins' acute sense of theatre and his ability to capture the essence of contemporary American dance using the vocabulary of classical ballet. Later that year Robbins and Bernstein, in collaboration with the lyricists Betty Comden and Adolf Green, expanded Fancy Free into a successful Broadway musical called On the Town.

      For the next phase of his career Robbins was to divide his time between musicals and ballet. He created such ballets as Interplay (1945) and Facsimile (1946). In 1948 Robbins joined the newly founded New York City Ballet (NYCB) as both dancer and choreographer, and the following year he became its associate artistic director under George Balanchine (Balanchine, George). Robbins created many important ballets for NYCB, some of the earliest being The Cage (1951), Afternoon of a Faun (1953), and The Concert (1956). These innovative works display his gift for capturing the essence of a particular era through his mastery of vernacular dance styles and his understanding of gesture.

      For the Broadway stage, Robbins choreographed a string of musicals, including Billion Dollar Baby (1946), High Button Shoes (1947), and Look Ma, I'm Dancin' (1948). Robbins won the Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for best choreographer in 1948 for High Button Shoes. He also created the dance sequences for the musicals Call Me Madam (1950), Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I (1951), and The Pajama Game (1954); and he adapted, choreographed, and directed a musical version of Peter Pan (1954) that was subsequently adapted for television in 1955 and for which Robbins won an Emmy Award.

      His Broadway career is well represented by West Side Story (1957), a musical that transplants the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet to the gritty milieu of rival street gangs in New York City. Robbins conceived, directed, and choreographed this work, which featured a musical score by Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim (Sondheim, Stephen), and set designs by Robbins' longtime collaborator Oliver Smith. West Side Story was immediately recognized as a major achievement in the history of the American musical theatre, with its innovative setting, electric pacing, and tense, volatile dance sequences. Robbins received the 1958 Tony Award for best choreography for the Broadway version and Academy Awards for his choreography and codirection (with Robert Wise) of the highly successful 1961 film version. (The original musical was successfully revived on Broadway in 1980.) He directed and choreographed the popular musical Gypsy in 1959 and the even more successful Fiddler on the Roof in 1964.

      It was after Fiddler on the Roof that Robbins turned his attention more exclusively to the ballet. Since 1958 Robbins had worked with the ballet company he had founded, Ballets U.S.A., which toured sporadically until 1961. In 1965 Robbins resumed creating ballets with his acclaimed Les Noces. For the next three years he worked on an experimental theatre project, the American Theatre Laboratory, but in 1969 he returned to NYCB. He was a resident choreographer and a ballet master there until 1983, when he and Peter Martins became ballet masters in chief (codirectors) of the company shortly before Balanchine's death. Robbins continued to write ballets for NYCB, including Dances at a Gathering (1969); The Goldberg Variations (1971); Requiem Canticles (1972); In G Major (1975); Glass Pieces, performed to the music of Phillip Glass (1983); In Memory of... (1985); Ives, Songs (1988); and West Side Story Suite (1995). Many of his later ballets are more classical in style and more abstract in subject matter than his earlier works.

      Jerome Robbins' Broadway, a compilation of excerpts from 11 Broadway musicals that Robbins had directed or choreographed, opened on Broadway in 1989. Robbins resigned as codirector of NYCB in 1990, though he continued to choreograph for the company. His last work, Brandenburg, premiered there in 1997.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Robbins, Jerome — orig. Jerome Rabinowitz (11 oct. 1918, Nueva York, N.Y., EE.UU.–29 jul. 1998, ciudad de Nueva York). Bailarín, coreógrafo y director estadounidense. En 1940 se unió como bailarín al Ballet Theatre (más tarde, American Ballet Theatre). Su primer… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Robbins, Jerome —  (1918–1998) American choreographer; born Jerome Rabinowitz …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • Robbins, Jerome — (1918 98)    American choreographer. He was born in New York. He began his career as a dancer, appearing with the New York City Ballet. His choreography for Broadway shows includes Fiddler on the Roof …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Jerome Robbins — Born Jerome Rabinowitz October 11, 1918(1918 10 11) New York City, USA Died July 29, 1998 …   Wikipedia

  • ROBBINS (J.) — ROBBINS JEROME RABINOWITZ dit JEROME (1918 ) Danseur et chorégraphe amricain né à New York. Après avoir suivi des études de danse (classique, moderne, orientale, espagnole), de musique (piano et violon) et d’art théâtral, Jerome Robbins danse… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Jerome Robbins — cerca de 1968 Nacimiento …   Wikipedia Español

  • Jerome Robbins — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Robbins. Jerome Robbins …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Jerome Robbins — noun United States choreographer who brought human emotion to classical ballet and spirited reality to Broadway musicals (1918 1998) • Syn: ↑Robbins • Instance Hypernyms: ↑choreographer * * * Jerome Robbins [Jerome Robbins …   Useful english dictionary

  • Jerome — /jeuh rohm /; for 2, 3 also Brit. /jer euhm/, n. 1. Saint (Eusebius Hieronymus), A.D. c340 420, Christian ascetic and Biblical scholar: chief preparer of the Vulgate version of the Bible. 2. Jerome K(lapka) /klap keuh/, 1859 1927, English… …   Universalium

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