Happy Hundredth, Jerome Robbins

 Happy Hundredth, Jerome Robbins

By Joan Acocella, The New Yorker
Friday March 9, 2018

...But, for people who would really like to see some unfamiliar work by Robbins, there’s another festival on offer: “A Centennial Celebration of Jerome Robbins,” by the chamber company New York Theatre Ballet, in three performances, on March 16 and 17, at the 92nd Street Y. This will include three Robbins works that are almost never seen. One is “Rondo,” from 1980, which is set to a short piece by Mozart. Everything in it is simple: just two young women in pink tunics dancing to one piano. Robbins loved to mix ballet steps with simpler moves picked up from folk dance or boogie or whatever. Here the women, after a difficult maneuver, repeatedly do a little toe tap on the floor behind them. It’s as if they were saying, “See? We’re American. We’re not stuck up. We can do these fancy Russian ballet steps and also ‘Turkey in the Straw.’ ”

Diana Byer, New York Theatre Ballet’s artistic director, recently remarked on how nice it is to see Robbins without the sets and the costumes, and with only a few dancers. “Just these little teeny jewels!” she exclaimed. They reveal things that are harder to see in the big works—notably, the often muffled intimacy among the performers. The dancers interact companionably but feelingly, as if they had known one another for a long time and didn’t have to tell us, maybe couldn’t tell us, what it was all about. 

Illustration by Eleni Kalorkoti

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