Robbins Rules!

Review of All Robbins by Kaitlin S., age 19

Are football-playing, red meat-eating boys allowed to enjoy a ballet? Whoever answers, "no" to that question has probably never seen All Robbins.

Jerome Robbins, who is most famous outside the ballet arena for his choreography in Broadway hits like Westside Story, Fiddler on the Roof, and The King and I, often used ordinary people as the subjects of his ballets. This seems to make them more accessible to a broader audience.

Front to back, Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancers Noelani Pantastico and Louise Nadeau with Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Casey Herd, guest artist Rasta Thomas, Pacific Northwest Ballet principal dancer Jonathan Porretta, and guest artist Glenn Kawasaki (at bar) in Jerome Robbins' Fancy Free. Photo by Angela Sterling

Pacific Northwest Ballet’s regular patrons will most likely have had greater exposure to the works of George Balanchine than Jerome Robbins. Although Robbins and Balanchine worked together for the New York City Ballet and each respected the other’s work, their styles of choreography were drastically different. The quick and confident Balanchine often composed abstract, ethereal pieces, whereas the slow, self-doubting Robbins composed earthy pieces about real people. If George Balanchine was the Claude Monet of ballet, Jerome Robbins was the Norman Rockwell. The three works selected for All Robbins are quintessential examples of this.

The first sketch, Fancy Free, portrays three sailors on shore leave in New York City on a hot summer night in 1944. Within the first few minutes of the sketch, it becomes obvious that they are good friends, but when only two pretty girls enter the scene, those bonds of friendship are quickly forgotten, and a massive attempt to impress the girls ensues.

In the Night, the second sketch, depicts three relationships: young love, married and trusting, and fighting passion. A pas de deux (duet) is dedicated to the depiction of the private relationship of each, and at the end, the couples meet together to give the audience a glimpse into their more public interactions. The costumes and lighting subtly accent the amorous ideas Robbins portrays. In the Night is one of six pieces Robbins set to Chopin Music.

When people daydream at a Chopin concert, what might they be thinking about? Jerome Robbins’ opinion of the answer to this question is given in All Robbins’ third and final sketch. This genuinely refreshingly original piece is another of Robbins’ six works set to Chopin music. Members of the audience are sure to laugh at this carefree, lighthearted piece.

Since this ballet deals with everyday people, and because it is so well put together, it is sure to be a hit with a really broad audience.

--Kaitlin S.
May 29th, 2008

May 29th through June 8th
More information and show times:
Ticket Office: 206-441-2424

Pacific Northwest Ballet is located at 301 Mercer St. at the Seattle Center.

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