Speaker Well, I did study with School of American Ballet when I was a teenager. I was I was on scholarship to the school. I had studied with Louis Johnson in Washington, D.C. Our teacher was Doris Jones, and School of American Ballet sent some people down to look at different schools and they picked the two of us for scholarships.

Speaker So my mother said, OK, I'll let you go. I'll put you in a good home with some people that you knew. And I had a great time. I was I finished high school there. So I think it was about 14 or 15 when I went to something like that.

Speaker And how did you have occasion to meet Jerome Robbins?

Speaker I met Jerry Robbins when I auditioned. Now, when I auditioned for Call Me Madam, I didn't I hadn't met him then when we were on the road, he did put some of us in. I was one of the four principal dancers. And then I someone told me to audition for a show called West Side Story. And I said, all right. And she said, oh, you'd be perfect for it. And I said, well, how do you know? And so she said, well, Jerome Robbins is choreographing it and etc.. And I went, it was a very exciting audition. It was a very difficult one. I think I auditioned about seven times. A couple of them were paired off. We were paired off with with partners. And it was extremely challenging. Scary because Jerry, he was scary. You know, I and dancers always want to please. They just want to do it right. And here the choreographer say perfect, which of course, I'm not quite sure, Jerry, but our relationship was was an amazing one. So it side rehearsals were a thrilling thing. I remember coming at Peter Janiero, assisted Jerry on that show with the Sharks, the Puerto Rican gang, and we were rehearsing the gym. So Peter had the sharks in in one room and Jerry had the Jets in another. And suddenly it was supposed to be a surprise exactly the way the scene was written. It was supposed to be done exactly that way. So we left holes. But, you know, when you're when you're being choreographed and you're dancing suddenly, Jerry, just Jerry knew how to get us. He had the shot. The Jets make a horrible sound like a siren or something. And we all had gotten together and we all stopped our choreography and turned around and looked and they took over, which was the challenge of the scene. So I remember working with Peter and Jerry comes into the room. So sorry to come here a second and all. OK, so I left the room. He took me into the room with the Jets, sat me down. And he said, just look at this, and so I said, OK. So I looked at it. He knew that my emotions were right at the top of my skin and he wanted to see how the Chaja affected me.

Speaker And so I sat there and I went, oh, my God, it's so beautiful. And I started I was just crying as I watched it. And when he saw the tears, he said, great, OK, you can go back now to work, you know, being used. Jerry, you used me.

Speaker That was a wonderful thing to know that Jerry respected my feelings and really wanted to see genuinely how someone felt.

Speaker Excuse me one second, Frank. I'm hearing all kinds of extraneous sounds is the right. Yes. OK, tell me a little bit more about how Jerry worked with the cast. What kind of techniques did Jerry used?

Speaker All sorts of techniques for us. We were very young. We had never had any acting experience. And some of the dances were not ballet dancers, you know, some of their training. For instance, Mickey Callon was a tap dancer. He he was perfect for the role, but he was not. But he was a tap dancer who could dance other styles, but mostly tap. But he was perfect for the part of riff.

Speaker A lot of times what he was Jerry, we had seven versions for one sequence and he would say, OK, do four bars of number three to do two of number one. And so it was it was great for us. I mean, we skipped it. So I guess probably I could say that was a technique of fear in there.

Speaker We were so busy trying to do exactly what Jerry said he that we had no time for any any other feelings, just our work, which is exactly the way it should be. I remember for the taunting scene, he would never allow me to do the tanning scene any more than a couple of times a day. And generally he did it. We certainly did it away from the rest of the a lot of the company. You know, we did it in another theater. And and the first time it was an improv and we had never done improv before, so he sat us in a chair, in chairs, and he sat over on the other end and he said, now the drug store is behind you. There's and there's a bar there. So just imagine that he's down there. You want to get down there and you don't want her to get down there. So just read the lines. If you feel like standing up, stand up. If you feel like whatever it is, you feel like we never had that freedom before as dancers. Never. We were told always you do this. So, of course, some of the boys went nuts and and I suddenly felt so free. I mean, Jerry and I used to talk about colors and food and the way we would think of our characters and our families and backgrounds and things like that. But I was never given this kind of scary freedom.

Speaker And we started and as we went along, I felt myself get up out of the chair and I felt myself moving around the stage and I felt these guys being very menacing and very frightening. And it really almost I felt like I was being taken over the edge. I mean, we were suddenly exposed to our own feelings. And that was thrilling for a dancer.

Speaker And it was very trusting the way he did, that he gave us great courage in doing that and we felt as though we could trust our feelings. That was first time, certainly that I had ever been in touch with with my feelings, because the story was very deep and very, you know, very dark and enlightening and everything else. But Jerry and I used to sit his technique was to be very free with me. We would sit and talk about how I felt about her and how I felt. But, you know, as I said before, the family and making up the characters that belonged to your life. So we had a background.

Speaker He separated the groups. Right.

Speaker Jerry not only separated the groups involved in separating the groups, we became extremely possessive about our turf. About our own group, our family, we grew to understand each other and separated us from the others, separating us from the others meant that they were indeed not us. You know, they were we had to be leery of them. We didn't have lunch together. We didn't speak. And I ended up marrying a jet. But and so I do remember clearly one time Carol came in, Carol Lawrence came in. She was beautiful. And she had made some felt sharks, you know, just about that big. And she passed them out to the boys before rehearsals. So they all stuck them someplace, I think, in their boot or something like that. Kenny Le Roy playing Bernardo walks in and sees the. The sharks, he sees the unity of the group and he hadn't done it. So he walks into our dressing room and puts his finger in Carol's face and says, Don't you ever, ever talk to the gang without speaking to me first? I am the one that runs this gang. Not suddenly it was running into our lives and was seriously in our lives. And and a Carol, I mean, she just sobbed. I mean, she was hurt, insulted. She was everything. But I think that this was all part of this fabulous thing that Jerry knew he had to allow to happen for us to discover this amazing piece and discover ourselves.

Speaker You didn't treat the gangs as cause people did.

Speaker Jerry never treated any of us this cause people it was it.

Speaker He he made us feel completely like individuals, certainly by talking to us the way he did, you know, telling us to find our own person, find our own families, find a reason to be in the gang, find our best friends. And that's tremendous respect.

Speaker He.

Speaker He can't I was suddenly thinking, how did he call us, did call us by name, I can't remember if he probably called us by the name of the character. But he there was there was a tremendous amount of freedom, you know, for us to discover, but we also had to be, you know, the I always said, if you do what Jerome Robbins tells you to do, you're going to be. Just fine, I used to also say that if you told me to jump off a building and on my left foot and take two steps forward, I he's just about the only person I would say I do that for, because I would I would know that he thought it out and that he knew it was possible.

Speaker You referred before to different versions of things. Why was it necessary for him to have different versions?

Speaker Well, it was variations, really.

Speaker One might have been more dynamic than the other.

Speaker Might have been for people instead of eight. Different colors. So I think that I think that's the best way to describe it, if it makes any sense at all.

Speaker It certainly does to me. What was he like, if you can describe him in rehearsal? What was it like to be in the room rehearsing with him?

Speaker Well, I, I, I was mad for Jerome Robbins because I totally respected his mind, his sense of humor. He was a handsome man, too, and I can remember being in the room with Jerry was was I had a little crush on Jerry, didn't know it. I had no idea whose dancers always want to please their choreographers and please their directors.

Speaker And I remembered having such a passion for wanting to please him that I remembered saying, what can I give him? What can I give him? That's even bigger, you know, than what I'm doing. And something said in my ear yourself. And I went, well, now wait a minute, this this is not going to work. Being in love with Jerome Robbins is not going to work. But it was an interesting moment for me to suddenly realize that I had a crush on Jerry. And it was sweet, I loved it, it it felt good, I was glad I came to my senses, but there are many different ways of loving.

Speaker The choreography has a lot of it has either a jazzy inflection or sometimes a Latin inflection, but from what I understand, you really had to be a ballet dancer to do most of it. It was really ballet underneath, is that right?

Speaker Well, I, uh, that's. The fact that the music and the choreography had such a magnificent mixture of jazz and ballet. You had to be strong dancers in ballet. I'm a firm believer in that anyhow, in order to to do most styles of dancing and to have the body in a strong, healthy foundation, supportive place, your ballet has to be strong. That's the longevity of the ballet dancer. If if you open up and do jazz and modern and those boys could never have I could never have done Petersburg without having a strong technique because his work was very quick and the boys could never have done. I don't think I'm cool. And those amazing numbers, if they didn't have those beautiful positions that stem only from the ballet. I mean, that's basically the way I feel. Period. There's no getting around it for me.

Speaker The, uh, the show had an amazing set of collaborators. Yeah.

Speaker Jerry, um, did you I know there's a cast member. You know, you weren't privy to a lot of their sessions, but did you have any sense of the interaction among them?

Speaker Um, I didn't really have a huge sense of the interaction between the phenomenal group of geniuses that that, uh, created a website.

Speaker I remember Arthur Laurents coming in to help me with the taunting scene. He gave me one magnificent thing to do with the with the with his jacket after he learned not to do anything, a boy like that after Tony had been killed. One small thing that was just so perfect and that really has nothing to do. I mean, he obviously felt fine coming into the area of Jerry's area, which is directing. We didn't see them, we were not at all privy to their interactions, you know.

Speaker How about during Lennie's particularly? Do you have recollections of the two of them together?

Speaker Well, not not really in in in beyond the rehearsal hall and the creation of the quartet and Jerry placing us all around the stage and Lenny conducting it and putting his foot through the stool, he was standing on a chair or something. And he was he was conducting the quartet, which is pretty thrilling, pretty powerful and. And he just he's there, he is there with you when you whatever it is you're doing, he's looking straight at you. So is Jerry. But this at this point, Lenny had the stick and he was so passionate that he just pounded his foot into this chair and went straight through it, straight through it. And we all just laughed and went, you know, continued to go on. But there was always, in my eyes, a very warm relationship.

Speaker But, you know, we were in the rehearsal hall. That's it.

Speaker As a director and rehearsal, what did Jerry give you that you didn't get from anybody else?

Speaker Jerry gave me a depth of belief in myself. A truce to be.

Speaker I never forget this, I tell this to kids, and this has a connection to the ballet thing, I come through the door and I see Tony Abbott, he has gone out the window. So I know that he is him. And but as I come through the door and I know that someone has gone out that window, I do an Arabised jump and I run to the window.

Speaker Cheetah, can you just stop for a second? I said, yes, sure. Well, he said, don't dance to the window. Walk to the window, run to the window, crawl to it, but be a person will go to the window. So, I mean, it took me a while to control myself because I do love to laugh and Jerry loved to laugh with me. So we had a wonderful exchange, as we always did.

Speaker But that's what Jerry gave me. Jerry gave me constantly this inward look at myself to make sure that I was a person, that I was real, that I was honest because I knew his eyes could see. And if anybody's eyes can see, you don't want to be anything else but truthful. That was a very, very big thing that Jerry gave me that I will always remember. That's kept me as real as I can possibly be in in everything I've done.

Speaker Mentioned he sees Jeri's when I say Jerry's ice.

Speaker He sees, you know, when when somebody is behind you and you do something, you don't even know if anything's behind you or not, and suddenly you go, oh, you know, I feel like something's looking through me. Jerry, I oh, stay out of that state and you knew.

Speaker That you were being looked at, you were being listened to, you were being seen.

Speaker And that kind of exposure in the theater is an exciting thing, if one can have that that freedom that that you trust yourself to a point where you get on a stage and you you open yourself, Jerry allowed me in a boy like that.

Speaker I was so. Emotional in that scene, as was Carol and I started to back up and and I was backing up towards it was sort of the end of my section of the number before she sings, I was backing up and he just told me to keep on going. And I hit the bed and and I was too far gone to finish the song. I could feel, you know, I was choked up, you know, and I said to him, Jerry, can I when I am afraid that when she's singing, I I'll be distracting.

Speaker And I didn't want to do that. So I was afraid my shoulders would shake or I wouldn't be able to breathe because that music is pretty exciting and those words and everything. And so he I said, can I turn? He said, that's exactly what you should do, turn away. Completely turn away. Then you'll be able to get yourself under control, it's a stronger position anyhow. That's another thing that Jerry taught me, that the back of the body.

Speaker Is as powerful as the French.

Speaker I get very emotional about him.

Speaker But anyhow, that happened, and it was just I was able to breathe, was able to get myself under control, and I was still able to be in the moment without adding to the moment as opposed to taking away great stuff for kids to hear.

Speaker He directed West Side Story, I think, very cinematically for a stage production in that nothing this.

Speaker Oh, motion. Well, I love the feeling being an inhered, you know, being inside of the piece was constant motion. That's what the emotion of the gangs was all about. That's what the youth of the time was all about, which is movement. Keep on moving. That's why it was great to dance it and to sing it. But just to sing, it would not have been enough. So the energy was extremely high. And pardon me, after America, Jerry said it stopped the show and Washington the first time we did it and the audience was just, you know, going on and on and we're bumping into each other in the ratings.

Speaker What did we do? What do we do? And Jerry was standing in the wings and Jerry's that you could downstairs and you change your clothes and Joe goes on.

Speaker So that's the continuation not only of the play, but of all of the, you know, the energy of the characters. We just kept moving. And I think they were all on the same page. Those geniuses were all on the same page. And when they are, then it becomes one, I believe. And so if that's what you got, that certainly is exactly what we were feeling inside, that it never, ever stopped, that even when the two main characters were on their knees pretending to be husband, getting married, husband and wife in our minds. As dancers playing these characters, we were still somewhere.

Speaker In the play, not on the stage, but in in life, in the life of these people, we were still someplace the kids allowed me.

Speaker The kids allowed me to prepare for boy for the taunting scene. I had never prepared before I'd heard that actors, you know, and things like that. So I would find a corner, you know, and I would get myself into what was about to happen, but it was Jerry that gave us that line of thought all the time. Keep it going. Where are you? Where are you in this life? And so that when I was I came out of that dark spot in the theater, I went right to the drugstore and went straight through the door. So nothing else intruded in our our minds.

Speaker And of course, the boys, the jets were always comical and crazy and silly and and adorable. We didn't think they were in the play. I mean, backstage, you know, they were just this was, you know, I'm really hip and cute. And our guys were always very dark. And they, you know, you know, it was it was wild. It was just was just very real.

Speaker You talked about Peter and the choreography that Peter did. Yeah. As Jerry's choreographer. Right. He correct me if I'm wrong. He did the first sort of draft of America. Right.

Speaker And then Jerry came in, Peter Gennaro as a coach, choreographed with them, with Jerry and. Peter choreographed America first and our first version, the boys were in it, and this, as I'm talking to you, I, I can almost see now we went into the room and we did it. And it was terrific.

Speaker It felt fabulous, you know. But then Jerry and Peter had a meeting or something. And when it came back down to it again, it was going to be all girls.

Speaker Boy, am I happy that happened.

Speaker Wow, I mean, it was night and day. For four for me as far as Anita.

Speaker With the women, I think, for the play, because they were gangs of all men, suddenly all the women appeared, it was a great balance, I thought.

Speaker And then I got to know the girls better, you know, as we as we as we did it, that that probably is one of the greatest numbers that I've ever been able to do.

Speaker I sure wish I could do it today, but that's the bottom.

Speaker Was there anything else that Jerry did to sort of. Tweets that number besides make the the big decision about taking the boys out.

Speaker I cannot tell you whether how much Jerry did to tweak.

Speaker America, it's hard to say, I mean, those steps are so Peter Janiero very fast, very there's a lot of.

Speaker Beats and sharp movement, but Peter's feet were very not only fast, but accurate. I'm sure that's also why Jerry chose him, because he was clean, crisp. And I don't know whether Peter ever had ballet training or not, but his feet moved. So they did. That's why I think Peter and I always worked so well together, too, because his style was very good for my feet and for my body, but I don't know how much, you know, in patterns or anything like that that he and and and Jerry came together with that.

Speaker No.

Speaker Did you find Jerry to be a decisive worker or not? And can you give me an example?

Speaker Well, decisive meaning.

Speaker Well, before you started to talk about different versions of things and what they might be and I'm wondering. It seems to me he had many more versions than the average choreographer from which that he would that he from which you could then choose.

Speaker Yeah, so he sort of became his own. He created a situation in which he could be his own editor somewhere.

Speaker Well, yes. Yeah. That's a terrific, great look at it. Jerry had. Well, a lot of choreographers do, but I've never worked with one choreographer that had as many different versions of the same pretty much the same thing.

Speaker He would switch steps around and put, you know, steps that were in front of other steps, he would put them behind them. So it kept your mind going all the time, but he could, as you said, he could in an easier way and his way edited it himself. I can't make it any clearer than that. I can't make it.

Speaker Did you find it was more of a realist?

Speaker Wow, is he more of a realist and maybe or perfectionist? Uh. Wow.

Speaker Well, he certainly is a perfectionist, this we know. I mean, you could not if Jerry wants to double pirouette, he does not want three.

Speaker He wants to. He wants to clean ones, whatever he however he choreographed, he wanted exactly what.

Speaker He asked for if he saw that your body maybe was going another way, maybe he would change it. Maybe there was something in your movement that would allow him to change the step for you.

Speaker But I don't know, perfectionist, absolutely, yes, realist.

Speaker Well, you're either dead or you cut.

Speaker You did it or you got into some serious trouble, you know, I mean, you then you would. He would. Mickey had a hard time. Let's say that Carlin had it pretty much, but pretty much of a hard time. I mean, Mickey Carlin played riff and Mickey was riff. Mickey was not the dancer that some of the dancers were, as I said before, he was a tap dancer and also but he would be standing in the back and he would be on a five minute break and he'd be talking to the girls, which was, of course, is what Riff would do and. I remember one time Jerry was standing with his arms crossed like this. He was standing on the edge of the stage and I knew he was going to just kill me. I mean, he was just going to because everybody he said, OK, let's take a five minute break rehearsal if you have to. You know, we all knew that on a five minute break we were supposed to perfect whatever we were supposed to still work, not go away and have a yogurt. It was supposed to work so well the five minute break. But that's the way we thought. And that's a good way. I'm sorry. I like it that way. And Mickey didn't I mean, Mickey just was being cute. And I was I just slowly walked by Jerry and I said as I passed him, I said, don't please.

Speaker Don't and I my it and he we started to laugh and he called me a witch. Of course he called me witch but then, you know, it kind of like, I think, you know, eased the situation up a little bit because he was he was pretty hard with Mickey.

Speaker But he Mickey was also the first one to leave the company and be a movie star. He made Jerry made everybody in that show the best they could ever be. And they had amazing careers afterwards.

Speaker I was just going to ask you, what's so bad about that? I was just going to ask you, um.

Speaker But you just answered the question I was going to say, since he was so tough on people, why did they want so desperately to please him?

Speaker Well, I think I think dancers want certainly my era dancers wanted to to please our choreographers. I've said that several times this afternoon. And I mean, we just do it also means, if you please, that person, it's a it's you've conquered something yourself, so you've gotten to another place. So you feel pretty good about yourself, because I don't think dancers people are meant to fly through the air and do what we do to our bodies, you know, and make it look easy. Dance, yes, but be as brilliant as a Baryshnikov technical, as so many phenomenal dance, we put ourselves through some amazing things. Some of it heard, some of it breaks, some of it. So we need somebody to tell us we can do this. And if we do, then we're just better than we were.

Speaker What do you remember about West Side opening night?

Speaker We were opening night of West Side, the opening night in New York. I don't even know if I remember that. I do remember what opening night in D.C. and that one experience with America stopping the show and that it was a huge surprise to us. Fortunately, we were the response was a huge surprise. We were so busy being in the play that.

Speaker We had no time to think about any any anything else except out doing what we had to do. But we were very surprised that we had something as powerful as we did, that we moved people to the point that we did.

Speaker I remember opening night, some people coming back and and we were coming offstage and Larry KO'd was such a clown all the time. I mean, he just made us laugh all the time and he was a jokester and all of that. And he we were laughing about something.

Speaker We were just falling over and laughing. Carol's face is all, you know, black from the mascara. No, no, we're laughing. And somebody came back and said, how dare you? How could you do this to me? And you just laughing like that.

Speaker And we kind of looked at each other, oh, OK.

Speaker This is a theater, you know, so, um. Opening night was exciting. I can't I honestly can't I can tell you that we were shocked that. You know that the reviews were I think the thing I was most shocked about was the Tonys, really.

Speaker That's the thing I think I was most shocked by that music man won a Tony Upper West Side. And it just you know, I just still tell that is an interesting story for those of us who want to say I can't take it anymore. It's so unfair. So what's fair? You know, this is a great probably the greatest musical ever written as far as I'm concerned, you know? And so you stick with what you do and what you what you believe in.

Speaker What was new about West Side Story or its.

Speaker The subject matter was new, I think, for its time, new in that it was happening at that very moment. Dancing. Like that. Dancers acting. The jazz, the modern, the the Latin. Was was was certainly new, that music, those percussions, those rhythms.

Speaker We saw people get up and leave, you know, OK, I'm older now, and I can I can I can understand we go what you know at that time, but.

Speaker To see dancers acting like that and singing.

Speaker And being people from the streets, I mean, we had gang members come down to the theater because they had heard about us and they'd stand outside the stage door and see what's going on with these guys. Some of our boys went.

Speaker My ex-husband certainly didn't care because he was as tough as they were, but.

Speaker The new thing was, was it was just combining emotion.

Speaker Subject. Music.

Speaker And it allowed us to suddenly be people that we never thought that we could ever be.

Speaker We thought we'd just be I remember Liebeck a theater and saying I'm not going to that audition with you cheated because dancers dance and singers sing and.

Speaker I went, oh, OK, and that was wasn't the West Side, it was another one, and I, I thank goodness I didn't listen to her, but that was a time when we really kind of thought that, you know. But West Side allowed us to realize we could we were still dancers in West Side when I came out of West, said I still thought, well, I'm not a dancer. I mean, I'm a singer. I even say it now. You know, I'm a dancer who sings.

Speaker And that's good enough for me, distinguishing Jerry from all of the all of the other phenomenal choreographers I've worked with, uh.

Speaker Isn't terribly hard because. He he's really No one for me and always has been because of the the whole the whole being from the top of your head, from your mind, down through your heart to your heart, down through the feet. It all, as I said before, he just taught me how to be a well rounded.

Speaker Person, a well rounded dancer. One who thinks, one who feels one who. Is a courageous one who has a sense of humor.

Speaker And West Side being the subject matter was I mean, it gave certainly gave me as a Puerto Rican, it gave me. It gave me a lot of very special feelings being accepted and and unfortunately, you know, this world was still not to too good a shape as far as understanding people's differences, but.

Speaker We were there at the beginning of it and. And. Jerry gave certainly me a place and I feel with all my heart that I am. A lot of who I am and what I am because of Jerry, I think the longevity of of my career has a lot to do with what happened in those rehearsal halls that was so emotional. I mean, we had to use a lot of personal feelings. That, you know, my brothers, when I was doing blood like that, you know, I was just singing it and then I was told, think of. Your brother's.

Speaker I went, Oh, you're kidding me. I'm not going. You're just trying to get me. And then I thought of my brothers and I was suddenly there.

Speaker So he connected the dots for me. At a time in my life that was perfect. I can always I will always say that the phenomenal choreographers I've worked with have all given me something, but Jerry has given me a larger package of it all at one time.

Speaker I that's all I can say, you know, I see his influence on the choreographer directors have followed him.

Speaker Oh.

Speaker Jerry's influence. Well, I have to think of the theater, really, I mean, Michael Kidd has a has an amazing acrobatic but ballet basis. Also, Jerry was very folksy in character when it had to be so he would go back to or go into. Uh, character dancing and ethnic kind of thing.

Speaker That I love and that I am.

Speaker A lot of the other choreographers are stylists, you know. So I you know, I, I can't say any more than that, you know, I really don't know. That was Jack Cole who who was, you know, jazz, you know, and modern. And there was Peter Gennaro, who was jazz and hip in New Orleans. And they were you know, all of them are so different. Who so stylized, specifically stylized, even though he also choreographed with some ballet background. Jerry is the sort of the father of it all, you know. He just has this place, you know, I can't be any more specific than that, he has this great choreographers have to have their styles, their own way of putting all those steps together in their own spirit and their interpretation.

Speaker But.

Speaker And that's, you know. Is it correct that at one point you saw his company in the 60s, Ballies, US? Oh, yeah, tell me about that.

Speaker I wanted to be I wanted to be a part of Ballies you so badly because it was so alive and it was every style. The energy was amazing. The technique was phenomenal. The sense of humor was terrific.

Speaker The variety of of of numbers was just they were all such a brilliant dancers or ballet dancer.

Speaker It it was just, you know, it was just I was more than enthusiastic about it because I said that's what I want to do. I want to be a part of that. And Jerry was starting some repertory repertory company. And and he gave me a call and I went, oh, my goodness, you know, this is going to be great. We're going to improvise. We're going to he's going to do all sorts of things on our bodies, you know, and but then it didn't happen, you know, and I was very sorry about that, but.

Speaker I had always wanted to be a part of Families USA. Didn't that sorry.

Speaker You never saw him dance?

Speaker No. No, I never I never saw I never saw Jerry except in dance, except in rehearsals, and he was it was fabulous.

Speaker But he was here and we were here, he was fabulous. I mean, if we if we could have just done it exactly the way he did it and we were quite happy he was not falling all over his feet and having an assistant show it for him. Jerry did it himself.

Speaker And that's what you wanted to do to see exactly what he said. I asked you to do.

Speaker Is there anything that you would like to tell me about Jerry and I should have asked you perhaps didn't?

Speaker Well, I think you're I think you did beautifully with your question. You know, you never really know how you feel about some things until you're asked questions and then you hear your voice and you hear your opinions and your feelings.

Speaker I think you have asked some wonderful things. I just always say that I. And ever so grateful to have been blessed with that being there at that time, I don't know how that happened. I can thank my friend for telling me about the audition. But my whole life opened up with West Side Story, all the great, great creators and and and with Jerry PROVENGE. We became great friends after that. I called him Big Daddy.

Speaker Whenever I called him, you know, he would just laugh, you know, so I knew that if I brought nothing else to Jerry, I brought him some laughter and a lightness of heart, you know.

Speaker So, you know, I hope this interview is this good, you know, Jerry loved you. Yeah. I mean, I just yeah, that's true. That it's just as simple as that.

Speaker And I he really taught me how to. Trust, I really trust somebody that I. Can look at and say, oh, God, they're really good, I really respect that I'm going to do exactly what they told me to do. And I can also see those that don't have that, so.

Speaker That's about that we're going to be.

Chita Rivera
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-gh9b56dt1r, cpb-aacip-504-g73707xb46
"Chita Rivera, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 18 Jul. 2006,
(2006, July 18). Chita Rivera, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Chita Rivera, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). July 18, 2006. Accessed January 27, 2022


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