Robbins, Jerome (1918–1998) By Foulkes, Julia L.
Jerome Robbins was one of the master choreographers of the twentieth century who transformed musical theater and ballet. Beginning with Fancy Free (1944), Robbins left his mark on both disciplines by his use of humor and character, and by his ability to combine movement originating in multiple idioms. This auspicious beginning led to more ballets—Interplay (1945), Afternoon of a Faun (1953), and The Concert (1956)—as well as a number of hit Broadway shows: On the Town (1944), West Side Story (1957), Gypsy (1959), and Fiddler on the Roof (1964). He traversed different genres with ease, moving from Broadway to ballet, dance to choreography, and then to directing plays, films, and television programmes. Although he made his earliest ballets for Ballet Theatre (now the American Ballet Theatre), his longest affiliation was with the New York City Ballet, where he was appointed associate artistic director in 1949, and to which—after a hiatus of more than a decade—he returned in 1969 to choreograph some of his most acclaimed ballets, including Dances at a Gathering (1969) and The Goldberg Variations (1971). Robbins’s work often defined the historic moment, marrying music, movement, and expression with such quality and intensity that his works have endured as historical and artistic landmarks.