So, I lack a great deal of dance history knowledge. I never grew up learning classical ballet, and I’ll admit before watching this documentary I didn’t even know who exactly Jerome Robbins was. My Grandma Gigi likes to send me these things because she’s told me since I was 10 years old that if I didn’t know ballet and I didn’t know all the choreographers of her time that I could never REALLY know anything about dance let alone teach it. (She can be feisty) But sometimes Grandma’s are just right. Hopefully this blog will encourage me to learn more about dance and its roots.
That’s how the documentary “Jerome Robbins Something to Dance About” came into my hands. It originally aired on PBS and my grandma watched it, ordered it and had it sent to my house immediately which I for some reason didn’t find time to watch it until two years later. (Really sorry Gigi)
Of course one of the most well known choreographers began his dancing career only after dropping out of studying Chemistry in college and just deciding on a whim to dedicate his life to dance. (Boys) The documentary takes the viewer through Robbins entire life as a dancer, choreographer, and director.
Robbins had a hand in what seems like starting in the late 60’s including the birth of shows like West Side Story, Peter Pan, Gypsy. He had this way of merging the plot and the characters with dance in musical theater that made it seem natural for real characters to start dancing in believable but also very beautiful ways. AKA tough new york street gang members getting into brawls.
Nothing and I mean nothing says it’s on like a couple of snaps and some chasses
That clip makes me giddy like a five year old watching the Nutcracker for the first time every time I watch it. Fun fact: Robbins was such a perfectionist that when directing the movie version of West Side Story, he was actually fired before production finished because the film was so over budget. The only dance scene that wasn’t directed by him was the Dance at the Gym. I hold a special place for West Side Story in my heart due to my first and only musical theater role as Riff’s girlfriend, Velma.
Robbins also directed many ballets and worked with greats such as George Balenchine. There are some sweet moments in the documentary where Robbins works in the studio with Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Baryshnikov talks in his sexy Russian accent about how much he misses Robbins today.
And you know what? So do I. -J