Jerome Robbins, By Himself (Hardcover)

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Item: 9780451494665


Jerome Robbins, By Himself: Selections from His Letters, Journals, Drawings, Photographs, and an Unfinished Memoir (Hardcover)
By Jerome Robbins, edited by Amanda Vaill

The titanic choreographer, creator of memorable ballets, master of Broadway musicals, legendary show doctor and director, now revealed in his own words – the closest we will get to a memoir/autobiography – from Jerome Robbins’s voluminous letters, journals, notes, and diaries, never before published. Edited and with commentary by Amanda Vaill, author of Robbins’s biography, Somewhere, 2006 (“I can’t imagine a better book about Robbins ever being written” – Terry Teachout, chief drama critic, The Wall Street Journal).

Robbins was famous for reinventing the Broadway musical and creating a vernacular for American ballet, pushing the art form where it had never gone before by integrating dance seamlessly with character, story and music. As Associate Artistic Director, Ballet Master, and Co-Artistic Director with George Balanchine, he shaped the New York City Ballet with daring and brio for more than five decades. He was known as the king of Broadway, the most sought-after director-choreographer and show doctor who gave shape to classic musicals such as The King and I, Wonderful Town, West Side Story, Gypsy, Fiddler on the Roof, and many more – winning four Tony Awards, two Oscars, and an Emmy.

He also shocked and betrayed those he loved and worked with by naming names to the House Un-American Activities Committee. “I betrayed my manhood, my Jewishness, my parents, my sister,” he wrote in a diary. “I can’t undo it.”

Now, Amanda Vaill, Jerome Robbins’s biographer and authority, drawing on the vast and closely held Robbins archives, has put together a selection of his writings, giving us a sense of his extraordinary range as a thinker and artist, as well as a surprising and revealing glimpse into the mind and heart of this towering cultural giant.

Interspersed throughout, his correspondence with George Balanchine, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Robert Graves, Lincoln Kirstein, Arthur Laurents, Tanaquil Le Clercq (the fourth of Balanchine’s four wives, with whom Robbins was also in love), Laurence Olivier, Stephen Sondheim, and many more.

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (October 1, 2019)
  • Dimensions: 7.5” W x 2” D x 9.4” H


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In classic or contemporary ballet, dancing may tell a story, express a mood, or simply reflect the music in movement. Ballet as part of staged performances originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th centuries and from there spread to France. The creation of classical ballet as we know it today occurred during the reign of the art-loving French king Louis XIV in the mid-17th century. During the Romantic era, ballet technique evolved to express new ideas, most notably with women dancing en point, or on their toes, allowing them to appear weightless and otherworldly.
Among the choreographers who helped bring ballet into the modern age by exploring new visual and dramatic styles are George Balanchine, Antony Tudor and—bridging the worlds of classical dance and Broadway—Agnes de Mille and Jerome Robbins.



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