Research Catalog

Jerome Robbins interviewed by Deborah Jowitt

Jerome Robbins interviewed by Deborah Jowitt [electronic resource].

Available Online

NYPL Digital Collections


Additional Authors
  • Robbins, Jerome
  • Jowitt, Deborah
  • John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (U.S.)
2 streaming video files (108 min.) : sd., col.
Interview conducted for Kennedy Center's Oral History Archive. Jerome Robbins (1918-1998) looks back on his multifaceted career as dancer, choreographer, and stage and film director.
Gift of New York City Ballet.
  • Dance.
  • Interviews.
  • Video.
  • Title from original container; location and date spoken on tape.
Event (note)
  • Videotaped in the library of Jerome Robbins' home in New York, N.Y., on July 11, 1995.
System Details (note)
  • Streaming video.
  • Reel 1 (ca. 57 min.). Topics include: the initial opposition of his Russian Jewish family to his occupation of dancer; beginning to choreograph; the genesis of his first ballet, Fancy free, created with composer Leonard Bernstein; his first contacts with George Balanchine; joining Ballet Theatre; his wish to treat American themes in dance; joining Balanchine's New York City Ballet; creating The guests, The cage, and Dances at a gathering for New York City Ballet; his belief that his choreographic invention draws upon and is replenished by his experiences outside the dance world; the difficulty of finding a producer for West side story; his interest in the human qualities of his dancers; working with the ensemble in Goldberg variations; New York City Ballet's understanding of his work, as evidenced in the revival of Watermill; the performances of Edward Villella and Jean Guizerix in Watermill; his collaboration with Bernstein on The dybbuk; his re-use of a Debussy score in Antique epigraphs; the use of space in Antique epigraphs and Afternoon of a faun; finding inspiration for Ives, songs in the paintings of Maurice Prendergast; the magic of dance gesture; filming West side story; collaborating with Balanchine on Firebird and Pulcinella; his decision to end his work on musicals; his opinion of Fiddler on the roof; co-directing the film of West side story; collaborating with Twyla Tharp on Brahms/Handel.
  • Reel 2 (ca. 49 min.). Topics include: his flair for character roles; dancing for Michel Fokine at Ballet Theatre; dancing the title roles of Balanchine's Prodigal son and Tyl Ulenspiegel; his decision to retire from performing; Nikolaj Hübbe's interpretation of Riff in West side story suite; his comfort with ballet as a language; working with students of the School of American Ballet on 2 & 3 part inventions; capturing the quality of spontaneity in his choreography; Kyra Nichols' performance in Goldberg variations; Mikhail Baryshnikov's intelligence as a performer; Baryshnikov's performance in Balanchine's Harlequinade; reconstructing his own dances for Jerome Robbins' Broadway; his involvement with American Theatre Laboratory; his work The poppa piece; his work as a stage director; choreographing to minimalist scores by Philip Glass and Steve Reich; Tanaquil Le Clercq's versatility as a dancer; his ballet In memory of..., created for Suzanne Farrell; his dislike of assigning specific meanings to his choreography; his keen awareness of his Russian heritage; his establishment of the Lena Robbins Archive (now the Jerome Robbins Archive) at the Dance Collection; his resistance to having his own works recorded; his favorite works among his own oeuvre; receiving feedback from Balanchine; his heroes Gluck-Sandor, Antony Tudor, and Balanchine; his belief that interviews are accurate only for the moment in which they occurred.
Call Number
*MGZIDVD 5-171
Jerome Robbins interviewed by Deborah Jowitt [electronic resource].
Country of Producing Entity
Playing Time
005810 004953
System Details
Streaming video.
Videotaped in the library of Jerome Robbins' home in New York, N.Y., on July 11, 1995.
Connect to:
NYPL Digital Collections
Local Subject
Musical comedies. West side story.
Musical comedies. Fiddler on the roof.
Musical comedies. Jerome Robbins' Broadway.
Added Author
Robbins, Jerome, interviewee.
Jowitt, Deborah, interviewer.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (U.S.)
Research Call Number
*MGZIDVD 5-171
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