The New York theatre community will remember late director-choreographer Jerome Robbins April 12 at a memorial, "Broadway Celebrates Jerome Robbins," at the Majestic Theater, the New York Times reported.
The Majestic is at 247 W. 44th St.
Robbins died July 29, 1998, at the age of 79, after suffering a stroke. Although prolific in the legit dance world, Robbins might be more widely known for directing and choreographing such Broadway musicals as West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof and Gypsy. He is credited with expanding on earlier choreographers' work and making dance, music, lyrics and book more seamless than ever, vibrantly propelling the story forward.
New York City Ballet held a memorial Nov. 16, 1998. Robbins was a founding choreographer of the NYCB, with George Balanchine. *
Among Robbins' memorable stage pictures:
* Three rambunctious American sailors bursting onto the stage, throwing back their arms and proclaiming "New York, New York, a helluva town" in On the Town.
* Tony and Maria suddenly noticing one another during the raucous Latin "The Dance at the Gym," and then performing a quiet pas de deux of immediate love in West Side Story..
* Ugly duckling Louise, suddenly misnamed Gypsy Rose Lee, discovering she's "a pretty girl" during a demure striptease in Gypsy's "Let Me Entertain You."
* Mary Martin as Peter Pan bursting through the Darling's nursery window, then leading Wendy, Michael through the London sky to Neverland in Peter Pan's "I'm Flying."
* Pseudolus tumbling over the Proteans in "Comedy Tonight" from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum .
* The villagers of Anatevka using a circle dance to illustrate the tight circle of their lives in Fiddler on the Roof's "Tradition."
* The slave Tuptim reimagining "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in purely Siamese terms in The King and I's "Small House of Uncle Thomas."
Most of these and many other highlights of his career were introduced to a new generation in the 1989 a dance revue retrospective of his career, Jerome Robbins Broadway, which ran 624 performances and won the Tony Award as Best Musical.
Robbins' first great splash came under the auspices of Ballet Theatre (later renamed American Ballet Theatre) at the old Metropolitan Opera House in 1944 when he performed his own choreography as one of the three original sailors on leave in New York in the ballet "Fancy Free" with music by Leonard Bernstein. A period Playbill records that he enjoyed 26 curtain calls on opening night.
Bernstein and Robbins expanded their work into the musical On the Town that same year, and Robbins had arrived.
-- By Kenneth Jones and Robert Viagas