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Jerome Robbins

Biography

Jerome Robbins (1918–98) was the greatest American-born choreographer of the 20th century and one of the most influential figures in Broadway. He played a crucial role in the development of both American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet. His seminal ballets include Afternoon of a Faun (1953), The Concert (1956), Dances at a Gathering (1969) and In the Night (1970), all of which are in the repertories of The Royal Ballet and companies around the world.

Robbins was born Jerome Rabinowitz in 1918 and grew up in New Jersey. He first learnt dancing from his sister Sonya and later studied modern dance at the Dance Center with Senia Glück-Sandor and Felicia Sorel, while also studying ballet with Ella Daganova and Spanish and Asian dance. Robbins joined the corps de ballet of the Ballet Theatre (later ABT) in 1940. His first work for Ballet Theatre was Fancy Free (1944), expanded the following year into On the Town on Broadway. It success made Robbins the most sought-after choreographer on Broadway, his most popular works including The King and I (1951), West Side Story (1957) and Fiddler on the Roof (1964). He created his first work for NYCB, The Guests, in 1949, and through the rest of his life retained close links with both NYCB and ABT, and his idol George Balanchine.

Robbins was a pioneer in creating ballets that reflected his own era. His works are marked by his unique comic gift, his intelligence and deep musical sensitivity.

News and features

Watch: Our favourite Wendy Whelan clips

Watch: Our favourite Wendy Whelan clips

17 July 2014

In preparation for the European premiere of Restless Creature, we explore the NYC Ballet dancer’s top YouTube moments.

Ballet Essentials: The Dream / Connectome / The Concert

Ballet Essentials: The Dream / Connectome / The Concert

30 May 2014

A quick guide to The Royal Ballet's new mixed programme, featuring classic works by Ashton and Robbins as well as a world premiere from Alastair Marriott.

With a slip of the foot: How rehearsal mishaps and improvisation can leave a lasting legacy in ballet choreography

With a slip of the foot: How rehearsal mishaps and improvisation can leave a lasting legacy in ballet choreography

19 May 2014

George Balanchine isn't the only choreographer to be influenced by the environment of the rehearsal studio.

Jerome Robbins: A master of both ballet and musical choreography

Jerome Robbins: A master of both ballet and musical choreography

16 May 2014

Balanchine's rival for the title of America's greatest 20th-century choreographer created ballets as well as the musicals West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof.

Photos