It is impossible to discuss American musical theater or ballet without the name Jerome Robbins. He’s the man who put the “American” into a dance form previously dominated by Europe as well as gave the world some of the most enduring musical theater experiences ever to grace the stage. He took the frivolous musical theater genre and made it a forum for discussing greater topics like racism and cultural identity. His gift for movement was breathtaking. His commitment to character changed the face of dance. And his perfectionism was the stuff of tawdry dressing room gossip – most of which was true.
One cannot tell the tale of Jerome Robbins without mentioning Balanchine – the name of the shadow he would forever live beneath without ever once realizing his worth or contributions to American theater and ballet. If Balanchine was the technical master to which American ballet would aspire, Jerome was the deep soul with an unflinching commitment to the truth no matter how it came out. To the very day that he died in 1998, Jerome Robbins never quite felt like he fit in, always questioned his skills and drove himself to unleash laboriously polished gems to the public.
American Masters – Jerome Robbins: Something To Dance About is a daring and adoring feat of documentation created by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Judy Kinberg and Robbins biographer Amanda Vaill with narration by Ron Rifkin. It will be presented to the public in a rare screening at Dance Camera West Saturday June 13th at 7 pm just in time for the 90th birthday of the legendary choreographer. The documentary is an exquisite and honest look at a controversial, tortured, brilliant man who battled with himself as well as the artists who worked with him to create visual odes to the human condition that have endured through the years. To this day, the very same steps executed by the original cast of West Side Story are still being danced on Broadway and across the world, not to mention countless numbers of ballets. The documentary not only offers up a comprehensive tale of his life and work but incredible archival performances by the man himself along with some of the greatest dancers ever to live.
Admission is free. No reservations are necessary. Seating is first come first serve. The Hammer Museum’s Billy Wilder Theater is located at 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90024. For more information on this venue please call 310-443-7000 or visit www.hammer.ucla.edu. For more information on Dance Camera West (DCW) and to see its June 2009 schedule please visit www.dancecamerawest.org.