Transcript:

Speaker Let's go a little bit back in time and tell me about the search your circumstances when you first met Jerry, what were you doing and what were the circumstances of you to meeting?

Speaker Well, uh.

Speaker At that time, it was which was a very long time ago, Lord Dance, New York was totally different. And Jerry. At that time was working between two different dance instructors. One was a modern dance instructor. The other was a ballet instructor. I'm not quite sure I remember their names at all. And I can't tell you exactly what the year was it, but it was a long time ago.

Speaker And.

Speaker I found him to be very interesting and extremely interesting character, so we we became friends and we were moving always within the same circle of because dancers at that time were it was a very small circle of dancers in New York then, but.

Speaker And we became our friends because we thought much the same way. Oh, well, the moving more or less within the same circles.

Speaker And you working at the time. You were in a dance company, right?

Speaker Yeah, I think I have.

Speaker It had to be what was prior to the New York City Ballet, which was the you're thinking of ballet society.

Speaker But when you met Jerry, I think you were in New York City Ballet, right?

Speaker Yeah. You know, Ballet Society and New York City Ballet were the same thing, basically because one grew out of the other and.

Speaker And actually, I think how I met Jerry was what he came we were being oftentimes of the same class, I think that's how when we first met, I. A definite point, I have no memory. And what were your impressions of him? I thought he was very sprightly and I thought he was had a wonderful sense of humor and very.

Speaker Very with it, you know, really a compatible person, and when Balanchine invited him to join New York City Ballet was a long time later.

Speaker What was the feeling about him then? Was he welcomed in New York?

Speaker Oh, I think so. I think so. I think very much so.

Speaker Can you make a sentence?

Speaker Jerry was very welcome because I remember when he because he had what had he already had already done a fancy free.

Speaker And probably more than just that, because I was in I spent one season in ballet theatre.

Speaker And I took over some of Jerry's roles, and we the chore was to show the West Coast and primarily into Hollywood. I can't remember whether it was the Hollywood Bowl or what it was at the Hollywood Bowl, but something one of those forms and a theater of outdoor theaters and.

Speaker That was that was the ballet theatre.

Speaker I had joined ballet theatre and Jerry was already a member of it and I loved the company and I loved working with them because they were really such a large group of people. And we were there for quite a long time, long. I can't tell you what the length was, but I remember it was certainly several weeks or maybe more before we left there. We all went from there we went to.

Speaker Montreal.

Speaker You mentioned that you you took over some of Jerry's roles. Could you describe him as a dancer? What was he like as a dancer?

Speaker Well, he was very, uh. A very energetic, very.

Speaker Very alert and what all of us have the sense what he was on stage, that he was on stage. I mean, there was really a wonderful sense of of performance quality. And Jerry.

Speaker And I.

Speaker I like I like the way, but I like the way he the way he was at that point conception of dance, I thought it was very interesting to. And of course, that was about the time.

Speaker I can't remember whether that was before or after.

Speaker Uh, yeah, you, Todd, if you could just sit back a little bit because you've got a microphone there.

Speaker So when you I dropped my hand, it goes away.

Speaker Yes. OK, I'm going to ask you what roles you pick, one or two of the most vivid roles that you remember him, and for example, do you remember him dancing Petrouchka? Yeah, and maybe you can. Are we right again? Yes. Maybe you can describe that for me. What was he like in Petrouchka?

Speaker Jerry was a very.

Speaker Incisive dancer, I mean, he was very specific and what he had in his body was a little bit sometimes like something that you dangle strings like he had a wonderful sense of really being on stage, which was very remarkable, I think, in young dancers. And a wonderful sense of what he was involved in and developing. I thought he was really for the very first time I ever saw him perform. It was always electric to see him perform.

Speaker I understand the first role that he danced when he went to New York City Ballet was actually in your ballet, Mother Goose. It was. What can you tell me about him being a dancer and you, the choreographer, what was he like to coach or train as a dancer?

Speaker It was marvelous. It is. He was a great theater person. I mean, you talk to Jerry about what you wanted, and he would. Think about it and immediately absorb it, and I thought he was. I had no problems with him whatsoever. He was really excellent.

Speaker OK, now I think you took over his role in a balance sheet. Now, I called till Point Big Oil and Spiegel.

Speaker I did, but, you know, it's so long ago, I have such deep memories of it and I didn't do that many performances. Do you remember him in it? Oh, yeah, of course. What was he like? Oh, well, you know, Jack was a it was a really exciting dancer. He had a it was a not that technically he was so big, but that he had a quality on stage. He was on stage. I mean, that was it was a clear cut performance.

Speaker What was he like as a person in those days?

Speaker Complicated but complicated in the sense that he was oh, actually, he was a wonderful person to be with because he was bright, alert and always ahead of everything, and it was always just a little bit competitive all the time in conversation and who was who was ahead and the dialogue and what he's saying that were being juggled around.

Speaker But. He was really a. It was a great guy, a.

Speaker I quite, quite, quite tell you what, what would be the dominant theme that I would think of him as that?

Speaker Well, did you have a sense that he was ambitious, young? Sure, yeah. OK, so tell me about that. Did he talk about that with you?

Speaker It was never the Jerry talked about things in terms of his career.

Speaker He would.

Speaker He was a great person to be with because he had a marvelous sense of humor and we had fabulous parties and everything, and he was wonderful on the stage.

Speaker Um.

Speaker Which reminds me at one point that when we were in, he and I were in a valley of George Balanchine's.

Speaker And.

Speaker Oh, it was the one with the Pied Piper. And.

Speaker Jared and I was the piper on the set, you know, because she's actually George Balanchine was doing the piper for this one particular day because the guy who was supposed to do it didn't show up.

Speaker So George went into the part and it was just ballet, obviously, and he. Charges decided to add all sorts of stuff to it didn't exist before, and Jerry was his story virtually next to be on the stage, and he would say, what's he doing? Wow. Yeah, he was just dying because a balance sheet was making up all these improvising. Which what would you do in a role like that? When you come out with a float, you dangle around the stage and you're trying to get the whole stage dancing with you. So he was furious, but he couldn't say anything about it. It was just one of those things. It was too bad. So he took it all out right on the stage. And I wish well, I'm sure that probably wasn't the last time it was.

Speaker And I wish I were Belgian.

Speaker Um, tell me about this a little bit later, but tell me about. Um, I know they had a close relationship. Oh, very funny. What she was like, what she was like as a dancer and what their relationship was.

Speaker Today was an absolute delight.

Speaker And. I actually.

Speaker Had met her as a child when she was studying at the Cainkar School on E40. March 24th Street, I think it was I'm not quite sure exactly the number and the Kinki school is that an old brownstone house at that time, which probably no longer exists in that area. And it was four children from five to 10, I think. That we're coming to learn how to move with other children and. Dorothy Height had asked me. If I would come and help her at times with training the children, walking and moving, and so I did and one of the students was Tanay, and from the beginning she was a very, very a really quite a charming child, a very attractive and very always very thin. But there was something a little fair about her. Always a. Despite her childhood, it was something a little more than just childhood. It was another quality altogether which made one immediately move toward her and trying to adjust the children who was the best in her, whatever. And so I had to do a little I did a little arrangement for the children and movement and with music so that this was part of schooling at the Cape Coast School. So I got to know her as a very young child, and so once she finally showed up at the School of American Ballet many years later as a beginning teenager, actually, I think she was about 11 or 11 or 12 at the time. She started growing long and thin and kept growing stronger and thinner until she was really a beautiful girl and.

Speaker It was an enormous talent. And so I was.

Speaker I knew Carrie from from her childhood all the way up through the school, her development into the company and how she really eventually became an extraordinary dancer.

Speaker What was your relationship with Jerry?

Speaker Oh, they adored each other. I was that kind of brother, sister kind of. They just loved each other. And they also had a similar kind of humor. They always find some crazy things that they could underline to each other in ways that was very abusive.

Speaker And.

Speaker To jump quite a few years when we are in Venice at one time.

Speaker And she and I and Roy Tobias were in a gondola.

Speaker And by this time, of course, we're all grown up, you know, so we were taking a gondola from some place to some place and it was a beautiful day. The sea was absolutely glorious. The air was super. And we feel wonderful about being in Venice. It was a town you would do this with their hand in the water. And at one point she and she saw it and swept it up into her throat. She'd smile.

Speaker We're not recording you because you're leaning forward. So, oh, Peter's having a big problem. Oh, that's OK. Forgive me, Peter. Yeah. You just.

Speaker OK, let's just stop and say, OK, just give a little bit more room.

Speaker Just because you're sitting in the gondola, the four of you and the four people were tiny Roy Tobias myself and I think Frank Munsen. But I'm not wasn't Jerry.

Speaker Uh.

Speaker I would have to be I would have to be sure.

Speaker Yeah, OK, let's do the list again. That's OK. Go ahead.

Speaker You want me to repeat them, if you would, Jerry Tany to buy it, right? Tobiason myself, the four of us. And she was running her hands through the water. You know, like this, because the guy was, you know, very, very close to the water at one point, did this and swallowed the water from the. Bay of Pigs of the.

Speaker Florence, Venice, thank you, dear, and.

Speaker And we all said today, why did you do that? And she said, what is so beautiful? It is such a beautiful day. And she said with said, but then I said this. And she said, wow, whatever. Well, you know what? So we sort of all forgot it, but we didn't forget it for very long because that's exactly where the polio came from. Eventually, Strucker about. Three weeks later. She was we were on our way to Sweden at that time at Copenhagen, I'm not sure which and.

Speaker We heard the tally had been taken to the hospital.

Speaker Oh, I had danced with her the night before. Exactly the night before we were in Copenhagen and she said I had to make an entrance. And I've forgotten about any longer. But the two of us at a Balanchine ballet and we had to run on stage and we had to stay out of the wings for a while while we were standing there, kind of kept pressing on her stomach and saying I.

Speaker I can hardly stand the pains and I start and I said, well, what you need is a good drink and we'll have one right after the performance, you know, and that'll solve the whole situation. And she said, all right, I'll remember that.

Speaker And so with that, we were out on stage and we did the part of her that we did, which was a very bright, lively little Balanchine piece. And I think it was within a day or so that suddenly someone called me and said, Janice Hospital. And as I a Kopenhagen and. Then we all thought, well, it's just Jarocin, whatever it is, and then we heard and if just put a wet blanket over the company for days because, well, she was such a first of all, she was a wonderful dancer and a charming person to be with. And for that to have happened to her, it was a terrible tragedy.

Speaker Tell me exactly what did happen to her and then did she dance again? All right, but if you could make a scene, I know, but if you could make a scene.

Speaker Well, that night, uh, they rushed to the hospital.

Speaker And.

Speaker I think we had I had we had moved from. I beg your pardon? We had moved from Venice to Copenhagen and.

Speaker It was a very I think it was the very first day we were in Copenhagen that I got to the theater and I heard that they had taken to the hospital and I was to dance with her that night. So we had to do a very quick shifting of cast. And we were all a little nervous about it, thinking, well, maybe it's just one of those sudden viruses, it'll go away. And then what we did hear about it just. It was like a terrible weight in the company that, uh.

Speaker Really never went away.

Speaker What was it that you heard, Chad Podio? And how did that affect her for the rest of her life?

Speaker That was it just never danced again.

Speaker Thanks.

Speaker Now, you said before that you were very close with Jerry during this time, you were friends, right?

Speaker And he I'm not sure about the timing, but there was a period around this time when you had a relationship with Nora.

Speaker Hmm, that was sometime, it seems to me that was a little bit before.

Speaker Tell me about that.

Speaker Not too much, I really can't tell you too much about that, except that they were together a great deal. And I remember when I was with Ballet Theatre, we were on and Hollywood for that. We were there for about six weeks, one summer and.

Speaker John Kerry's.

Speaker And at the memorial, Bentley and the big tall girl goodness names to go away, don't. I'll remember her name probably a we were we had taken a flat together so that we we all we had our bedrooms and whatever, and we had a meeting. The girls had their space. We had our space and the we had a living room that was in between this on and on the Hollywood Boulevard somewhere. And when we were performing in.

Speaker At.

Speaker Let me see, where am I going with this story?

Speaker I don't know, actually, I was thinking, but I was wondering that I had to ask you about Nora.

Speaker What I'm really trying to get at is, is what were Jerry's relationships like around that time? I mean, he had with Nora. Well, with Nora, with other people.

Speaker Well, you know, I mean, other people here. Jerry was very he had lots of friends, I should say, and.

Speaker And although although he was at one time, he was very, very much with not only but then there would be a shift and they would separate and they'd have other friends.

Speaker But actually, what was your question again, please?

Speaker What were his romantic relationships about? Was he he was with Nora for a while. He was with Montgomery Clift for a while. What was was he.

Speaker What was the.

Speaker Well, I mean, Jerry was a man of various tastes, obviously, and he indulged himself the way he wished good time. And with whom he plays no, I mean, with whom he would have a mutual association. But I thought I think he was. Gerri, I always have the feeling that Gerri was sort of like a bumblebee, you know, you could go from one to the other. There was no really single person that I ever, ever felt that he was really with for her for any length of time.

Speaker Why do you suppose that was?

Speaker I think it might have a lot to do with simply being assertive, not wishing to that, wishing to live with someone, particularly a. As a couple or whatever and I. I think I want to be honest on most of the time. And his attitude always was, you know. Here today, gone tomorrow. Especially with relationships. And if they could, they could drop, they could disappear for maybe he wouldn't see them for once, so let's be back again together. So it was an interesting way that he had moving from like a beehive flower flower. However, one might put that.

Speaker OK, let's go back to New York City Ballet for a moment. Choreographically, what do you think that he was bringing to the company that all have before he got there, a totally different kind of energy?

Speaker You just make a sentence out of it.

Speaker Let me give if you would just make a sentence out of it that it was a wonderful energy that he brought with his work and with his with his conception that and also with his tongue where he would whip us. He had a very fierce tongue and would be I could be very, very. Mm hmm, very hurtful to one in a rehearsal. And I think this was a very commonplace thing with him.

Speaker Can you give me an example?

Speaker Well, I can give you an example of one, something that one told me about a Broadway show that he was doing. Have you heard that one about what he was?

Speaker I've forgotten what the show was, but that he had called a cast on stage and he was really laying down the law about what he wanted and the way he wanted it done, and he was lashing into the rather fiercely.

Speaker And they were on that side of the stage and he was toward the front of the stage as he was talking, he was walking around and and, you know, say whatever and so forth. And at one point, he made a big point and said. If things if things continue like this, there's going to be a lot of changes in this company and I can assure you this is going to happen and so forth and is backing up at the time, he said.

Speaker And he fell off the stage into the pit orchestra pit. The answers turned and walked right off the stage, no one went to help him or anything.

Speaker It was just.

Speaker He hit. Really laced into them with such venom.

Speaker OK, it was Billion Dollar Baby, by the way, was it Billion Dollar Baby?

Speaker Do you remember the valley age of anxiety at all? Of course. OK, what can you tell me about who who wrote the music and.

Speaker Oh, dear. All right. A little bit about Burns.

Speaker What was this? Bernstine. Yes.

Speaker So if you could tell me that and just tell me a little bit about what you remember about Vallet, I thought was wonderful ballad. Well, if you can make a sentence in the name of The Age of Anxiety.

Speaker That was I think that was one of Jerry's first big ballets and it was the New York City Ballet and it was I think it used the entire cast. The entire company, rather, and. It was Jerry, myself, Terry and Frank Munchen or the four. People who are involved in this plot line. And. If I don't say it, the rehearsals for that were endless and. Tough and sometimes. Very difficult to take because he was really pushing like. With a great deal of force, here it was. He was so clear about what he wanted. And if we moved, if we did something that he didn't like, it was it wouldn't want. No, that's not what I wanted would be fury. It was really listening to you. So those rehearsals were very tough.

Speaker And yet. On top of that.

Speaker Suddenly, he would be all relaxed and as it got on, as it got further and he would be he would become a little more jovial and will yell at us, I would say some relief. Cutting cruel things to the dancers that, you know, I just almost cringe because but nevertheless, he succeeded in getting a. I created a wonderful work and a. I say I love dancing for the whole for as long as we did. We did a great a great deal. It was a huge success in Europe.

Speaker What can you tell me about it?

Speaker Well, the cast was. And I really got you.

Speaker It's OK. You gave me the cars before, and you were correct.

Speaker I was. Yes, OK, fine.

Speaker But how about the ballet itself? Do you do you recall what the ballet was about?

Speaker Yes, of course it was. It's about our society and the and how how we treat each other and what we do and how we work and how we react to each other. And it was. Age of Anxiety was a perfect title for it, because that's exactly the period we were going through. Americans not, you know, not just Jerry, but the Americans were going through this kind of a period at that time. I felt it was it was a development where Americans were becoming much more aware of psychoanalysis and all that kind of suddenly it was a whole new era of thinking about behavior. And I felt that he got this into that valley, the understanding of how people come to understand each other, not simply through what they say, but how they say it and what it comes from and the feelings involved. So it's a totally.

Speaker I thought it was a masterful work in terms of point of view for ballet.

Speaker Could you tell me who composed the score and it was Bernstine? Well, what I and thank you, Parkinson's. And was he around at all?

Speaker Oh, sure. The composers were always often played the piano well in rehearsals.

Speaker So if you could go back and just make a complete sentence using his name and tell me what you've just told me about him being around and what he did there.

Speaker All right.

Speaker Um.

Speaker Leonard Bernstein would be in many of the rehearsals and often played the piano, and oftentimes there are two pianos, there were two pianos and two pianos and. This is this this was actually a general issues through that whole rehearsal period. He was there quite a bit and most of the rehearsals and Jerry was. Moving full speed ahead, you move very quickly on that ballot, and I must say it was one of the one of the most wonderful ballads to dance. Because it brought a quality. The event of developing a character. An emotional character and dance, which I had not truly been aware of prior, that I'd seen some of tutor's works before that, but this was the first time in which I had been involved in something that was quite that personal. And which you really put yourself into the situation as a and and your your emotions in relationship to the. To the idea that was being developed.

Speaker Very good. Thank you.

Speaker Since you started to talk about the tutor, I'll just ask you, what do you tell him? I'm OK. You're OK. That's OK. No problem. I just I'll make sure that proposition. OK, tell me about especially as you were in ballet theatre for a little while. What do you think tutors influence on Jerry was? How were they like and how do you think Tooter influenced him?

Speaker Well, that's OK.

Speaker I think it was an enormous influence, if you can make a sentence using tutor's name. Thank you. Well, I think that Chuter influenced Jerry tremendously. And I think really that this was the first time in American dance that that emotional quality was brought to the stage with such clarity was when Chuter arrived to this country. And it it really was an almost a combination of acting and dancing, which was remarkable and wonderful for the dancer, because it suddenly opened you out in a way that you that had never happened to a classical dance before. And I thought I think it was one of a I think Chuter was one of the major developments in science in America along with Balanchine. I mean, the two of them were superb influences on American dance. And thank God I was there to share knowledge.

Speaker I wonder if you could, as specifically as you can think about it, talk about tutor's influence on on Jerry.

Speaker Well, you see, I'm not altogether sure that it was just Chuter. Because I think Jerry was very much influenced by modern dance and very much influenced by theater as well as we all were. I think that that era of theater was so fabulous in New York at that time that when I when I was growing up that it was quite an experience because there was so much so many wonderful productions at that time. And it's a constant innovation all through the 30s and the 40s and continuously up through that period, I thought was a great push forward for the intelligence of the Broadway theater.

Speaker And how do you think that affected Jerry?

Speaker Oh, tremendous. I think it affected everyone because suddenly I thought a theater had become adult, had grown up and was no longer playing comedy and all of that or being.

Speaker Untruthful to movement, you know, for example, from the early part of the century when it was all artificial, you know, people would do all sorts of things to do, declaim, and suddenly everything began to change. And thank God I grew up in that era when it was when everything became real.

Speaker We faced reality for the first time in theater.

Speaker Jerry talked a lot about honesty on stage. And what do you think he meant by that?

Speaker You know, honest, dishonest, there's not much more you can add to the word, because I think what he well, I think what he meant was that that you really come from in your interior thinking process as to what you are doing and why you are doing it so that whatever you do is not just a gesture, but it is extended from you so that there's a connection between you and another person. And I think this is a vital point. I think Chuter but Balanchine was like that, too, you know, I mean, from the very beginning with Balanchine, he was always so exact about what he wanted from you because of his broken English. It was sometimes hard for him to you early on. That is because he later got fairly adequate speaking English, but it was always a little hesitant. But but he was wonderful in being able to explain things, Balanchine had the same idea as Chuter, but they were two totally different backgrounds. And I think that actually for America was gorgeous because it had such a richness of development into into incidents that had not been there before, it really had not been there before.

Speaker OK, let's talk about your panning left, my friend. Am I OK? Yes, OK, because I can go right to. Let's talk about fanfare, OK, now. How did do you remember how fanfare came about? It happened that it was right around the time of the coronation.

Speaker Hmm, remember that?

Speaker Yeah, OK, so could you briefly describe what the premise of the ballet is, what the music is and what the premise of the ballet is?

Speaker Now, I'll have to go back and think about the valley and its hold on.

Speaker Concept.

Speaker Well, you know, it's bringing Young People's Guide to the orchestra that you bring young people. Oh, yeah, of course. I know. I know, I know all that.

Speaker Hmm.

Speaker Once again, just as I was asking if you could sort of describe the premise of fanfare. What's it about? And well, let me try it this way. I don't know if it's true, but I understand that Balanchine suggested the jury fanfare and he sometimes would suggest, oh yeah, yeah, to the company.

Speaker And one of the reasons that I and again, I don't know if it's true, but it makes sense.

Speaker One of the reasons that he suggested it is that he wanted to work with large groups, but in non-dramatic situations because he hadn't done that. And so we chose this music in the year of the coronation, he chose this English music, which was a young people's guide to the orchestra. All right. Jerry did something actually very clever with it, right? Oh, absolutely.

Speaker So can you talk about that a little bit? Do you have a recollection of it being made on you?

Speaker Oh, sure.

Speaker What can you tell me?

Speaker Well, I, I, I always. I love the variation he gave me because it was something that I rarely. Well, I did occasionally, but not frequently, which had humor in it, you know, in ballet, oftentimes one goes long periods without touching humor or used to rather. But I was I relished the possibility of having a work on which. The movement and the face and the action sometimes were all contrary. And to to bring that into a whole without selling it, so to speak, was a nice problem and I. I loved it. I mean, I just ate it up because it was something I hadn't really had a chance to work at. Occasion of a balance, he would do something humorous, but not with that tremendous sophistication that Jerry brought to that ballet.

Speaker Do you remember what your role was?

Speaker Yes, well, I was the I can't remember the title was. The.

Speaker Tympani Company. Tell me again, tympani.

Speaker Oh, yes, in a sense to say I represented the tympani in the in the fanfare.

Speaker OK, um.

Speaker It's almost as if Jerry made a community out of the orchestra, right? He sort of humanized the instruments. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Speaker You need to bring the sound of the music into the dancer, honest as a visual exploitation.

Speaker Well, he used the music to make to suggest characterizations so that the instruments became a community in which they actually had dialogues with each other.

Speaker Yeah. Yeah. So can you talk about that a little bit?

Speaker Well, do we need a score or how do we recover?

Speaker Well, let me give an illustration.

Speaker Well, that particular variation that I that I did, it had to do, I think not primarily in which the drums are the dominant expression, but the orchestra is built around the drums in that the development of the orchestration so that it was it had a lovely kind of pompousness to it, which was wonderful to perform.

Speaker And it.

Speaker The because pompousness is such a you know, such a part of a society can be that I thought it was wonderful that Jerry was able to bring that point across because I was supposed to be the one who was always stern and doing the right thing. I was I was Mr. Right all the time. Everybody else was wrong so and so that I was constantly looking down on the people around me. Yeah. What are you here for? And it's. Just that slight difference is just such an enormous help to a performer, because it gives you the whole impetus of what you're doing.

Speaker Good. Thank you.

Speaker It seems as if Jerry was very interested in using vernacular movement, Felching did, too, but it was different.

Speaker Can you maybe talk about that at all or give me an example? Or was that new? In that period, you mean?

Speaker Well, I think it was a.

Speaker I think it was a combination of bringing theater into dance.

Speaker And.

Speaker Balanchine did it one way and Jerry did it quite another way. And both of them managed to succeed extraordinarily well and projecting dance way into the future as far as it was concerned at that time, and it gave also the performer a chance to.

Speaker Not.

Speaker To be an actor. You know, not to be like often times many of those earlier classical ballets that people would do acting roles and they were all so phony, you know, but this really concentrated the point of view of tension and relaxation and energy moving in different directions so that you had you have a sense of a. Almost like a band orchestra, a composition that's developed musically. It kept growing and becoming more clear to the, uh, to the viewer through the ear and the eye.

Speaker Let's talk about the concert, shall we? Sure. I love the concert.

Speaker Jerry had an idea, not only do you Chopin's music, but he also had a sort of idea about the ballet and the music together, a little bit unique at that time. Can you talk about that?

Speaker Well.

Speaker It was unique because he was telling a story, but he really was telling a story, but in a very elongated sort of way, a. And did it I think the characters are all very, very clearly defined, absolutely. And that the plot developed. Exquisitely, as Jerry always was able to do, to make it a. Well, to make it a kind of a story about I sort of speak with. So that the audience could follow the line of the of the of what choreography was approaching. I don't know what I'm making myself clear, not, but I well, it had to do with people attending a concert, right?

Speaker Yeah, exactly.

Speaker What do you recall about rehearsals?

Speaker Hard, very hard.

Speaker He was relentless at getting good, making that happen. I worked with several different casts during that.

Speaker And.

Speaker Over the over the period of time that I was in involved with Charlie Company and I can't remember he did he do that? The New York City Ballet. Hmm. OK, because because I remember going with him to Spoleto and we did that later, but he did it for New York City Ballet.

Speaker And I'm told that when he made the piece.

Speaker In rehearsal, he danced all the parts. Do you remember that?

Speaker Oh, sure. Oh, yeah. Well, Jerry, uh. He was, as you know, a very demanding choreographer. So that what he wanted, he got or you're out there was no there was no fooling around about it and he would pull out. And I remember at one point, one terrible point when we were in the middle of working on that, that Jerry said to me, I want to work with you alone today. And I said, I've got a studio. I'm taking a studio because we can't get the stage and in the building on 7th Street. So we went over. And this was just before our performance, so we were we went up and we started working on it.

Speaker Jerry wanted a certain kind of quality from me, and so we started on it and I was working very hard at it and I had trousers on.

Speaker It had cuts like that. And.

Speaker Never realizing that that could be a fatality. So so I was right in the middle of everything was going absolutely wonderfully and he got just exactly what he wanted. And so he said one more time. One more time. So he did it. And it had to do with passes, with lifting the leg and dropping the leg, lifting this leg and dropping that leg. But it has to be tied to the leg. And I had trousers on with cuffs. And so I was doing this and so forth. And so I came down and it went into the cuff and I went to the floor and I.

Speaker Spraying my big toe.

Speaker And.

Speaker I was stung furiously when what had happened, and so I got up and I thought I said, well, it'll go away, you know, like that. And so that was the end of the rehearsal. And I went home and I took a hot bath and so forth and so forth, and I had a lump like that on the bottom of my foot. By the time I got back to the theater that night.

Speaker And I said.

Speaker Jerry, I said, I'll try, but I said it's going to be ridiculous. I look I look like a really old man trying to get around on the stage. And so he put another guy into it. One of the substitute.

Speaker And.

Speaker I had to wait till it healed, which is it took about a week for it to heal. And when I came back and started working on it again, going into rehearsal, George and Todd used it, for God's sakes, you know, you're really you're walking around like a cripple. What's wrong? I said, well, I'm just trying to get over this. But I you know, I sort of hurt my foot, but that was it. You know, that was that was the reality of the situation. You did it or you didn't do it. One of the other was Jerry.

Speaker He did manage to get very good performances out of dancers. Oh, superb. Did he do that?

Speaker Uh. Tough, I mean, he was really tough.

Speaker He was he was sometimes he would make you feel so you could either kill him or or walk out of the room with people.

Speaker Did you know he had all sorts of. Situations like that were.

Speaker It was very difficult and people did resent him and but nevertheless, he was a wonderful choreographer. And you love to work with him because his work was so good. So there was this clash at times. Well, he was where you were fighting against each other, but not really. You didn't fight against him. I just simply well, whatever you said, I would do it in a rehearsal if we were talking about something that was quite different. But at a rehearsal, I always followed it.

Speaker Exactly.

Speaker What were rehearsals typically like, did he talk about what were rehearsals typically like with Jerry? Did he talk a lot? Did he give you images? Oh, yeah, splain that.

Speaker Yeah, he would oh.

Speaker Well, it's a little difficult to explain in a sense, because it comes out of the.

Speaker A little bit of the movement will start, OK? No, no, sorry.

Speaker OK, typical Robyn's rehearsal.

Speaker Typical Robbins rehearsal would be that. Well, we expect everything to be perfection the minute he gave you a combination of movement of movements, he expected that you take those and build them immediately into what he's asked you to do and if you didn't do it out.

Speaker Somebody else replaced you immediately. And.

Speaker Fortunately, I we always we always seem to be you know, I got along very well together, so I was never I never really felt as though I was I was being browbeaten at all. I felt that he was just a very strong director who wanted what he wanted immediately, sometimes a little hard delivered immediately. But you try your best. And I think this is one of the things that made him a wonderful director was his his insistence on perfection. The best you could give and he demanded of you.

Speaker Whoever is making noise on my left with their shoes, please stop now upstairs. That noise is coming from upstairs. No, it's not, it's coming, I don't know. It's sitting on the other side of that pole, but it's coming from the shoes right there. I can see only the shoes.

Speaker How do you think that, Jerry? You talked a little bit about his perfectionism. How did he expand? Do you think your possibilities as a dancer? Oh, how immensely.

Speaker How?

Speaker For us, I think oftentimes it was, for example, anything that, you know, anything that you study or do, the teacher is the person who through gentleness, pressure. Force can get you. To move accordingly, and I think this is simply one of the dynamics, a teaching is that you have to know how to use force and when to use it and when not to use it and when. But it's always discipline is absolutely imperative to hold out and then to build on that.

Speaker Tell me about his eye. What kind of an eye did he have? Oh, fabulous. Make sure.

Speaker Has he had a well?

Speaker I say it, I think it's true of all great artists they see through. A situation. Very fast. And with that that knowledge and ability to understand the complexities. Able to build on that. So that they can make a wonderful structure solid, that's what comes from, you know, marvelous people like Balanchine and Jerry that and Agnese and people like that who are really wonderful. I'm just understanding of the human.

Speaker As a dancer.

Speaker Not just a an acrobat or whatever, but it's a human as a dancer with the brain and everything, because so many people should treat them as, you know, just. Well, it could be anything, automatons could very easily be, but it's to get that out of a human being is the extraordinary thing about balancing. And Jerry both and Chuter. Chuter was the most. I think the hardest person working with dancers. It could be very kind, but it could be absolutely brutal and just attack one if you are not doing what he wanted.

Speaker All right, if you're off point. He had a very wonderful sense of theater. Of dance and theater.

Speaker Are you talking about Tooter or Jerry both. OK, so can you sort of tie those two things together?

Speaker Well, I can say when I'm speaking about the hardest is not only just the two of them is balanced sheet, all, you know, anyone who's really an artist has that wonderful ability to make something suddenly come, not just live as a human being, but a lives as a point of view or a vision or whatever.

Speaker I it's like a writer who can develop a book.

Speaker Well, in Jerry's particular case, what would you say are the qualities that are common to many of his ballets? For example. OK, now I'm going to excuse me now I'm going to go through the flag. OK, what are the qualities that you see there, common to many of them will occur in Jerry's Ballies, for example.

Speaker Do you see a certain kind of humor? Do you see theatricality?

Speaker Do you see ideas about community? What are the things that are occurring?

Speaker Everything that you said? So go for it.

Speaker Well, this is what I think a great artist is anyway, is that they can take the reality of life. They can put it into a theatrical situation and make it believable to an audience so that you believe it totally. And you don't have any you know, you have no objections to anything that has happened. Maybe you say, oh, this or whatever, but the basic point of view has to be there. And this is where a great choreographer comes into play who can carry it's like Shakespeare. I mean, you carry an idea and you build and build and build until it's a wonderful expression.

Speaker And that's that's what that's the wonder of working in ballet, I think is when you are working with choreographers of that facility and they don't come around a lot.

Speaker And do you think the jury was one of them, and if you do, could you do that?

Speaker I do that. I could I what?

Speaker Could you make a sentence out of that?

Speaker Well, I think Jack was one of the most important people in the theater in America and the world as it was Balanchine and as a prosecutor and agonised about and we could go not very much farther, but a little further.

Speaker But are you equating Jerry's choreographic talent with Agnes?

Speaker Greater talent was greater, I think.

Speaker Um, you know, I'm like, excuse me, I'm what I think I just always had. I must say I did some gorgeous things, but Jerry always had a quality of.

Speaker Uh.

Speaker I'm sure I'm using the right word. I don't know if compassion is not the right word, but something like that, he could bring into it, into his work a believability.

Speaker It made it powerful. And it.

Speaker Really stack statuesque. It was so it was so powerful and I think this is this is true of a writer, a composer, anything that they are able to bring into something originality. And a clarity of movement that is so. Powerful that it encompasses the whole the whole point of view of what's being on stage, and it makes it it was like a great writer, you know, you when you start reading a great writer seeing a play and it builds, it's such a marvelous experience.

Speaker And, you know, I thought we wait for all the time. We keep going to the theater for that moment to happen. And we go and we go, where do we go? And sometimes it happens, but not often.

Speaker But when it does, it's it's gorgeous.

Speaker What you're saying is reminding me of fancy free by any chance you weren't at the opening night of fancy free? I wasn't. Do you remember the first time you saw the valet?

Speaker Oh, well, I remember it well, yeah, I was supposed to go into it at one point when I was in that company and then I got shoved into another ballet. And so there was a squabble about people and and so I never got into it. But you've seen it. Oh, yeah.

Speaker Yeah. What were your impressions? That offensive?

Speaker What was new about everything.

Speaker Just everything. I mean, it was like suddenly a beautiful Palm Beach, a breath of air came on in the middle of winter and onto the stage. It was just fabulous.

Speaker It's so rich and so full of of invention.

Speaker We talked before, I just want to go back to something you talked about Tenez illness before, and we didn't talk specifically about its effect on you generalized and talked about its effect on everybody, which, of course, was devastating, but specifically about Jerry. Do you remember how he responded?

Speaker Well, I tell you, I was involved in my own feelings at that time, that it was so horrible, it was so unbelievable. And I told you how it happened.

Speaker Al.

Speaker And I remember the day that he did that, but once he drank the water, I thought. I you know, it went through my mind. What has she taken into her body, you know, for example, out of out of and that you thought, well, maybe it's this great ocean, you know, maybe maybe it's even for you, even if it isn't Venice, maybe it's OK. But whatever it was, I mean.

Speaker OK, you know, Jerry never didn't make another ballot for the New York City Ballet until nineteen sixty nine when he went back to do dances together, you basically stop. Let's talk about Ballies, USA.

Speaker OK, can you tell me what it was and where you toured? But first, tell me what it was. What was Ballies, USA?

Speaker Well, it was a group of if you can make a sentence using the words Valley USA.

Speaker OK, um. Well, I think Balley USA was a was.

Speaker A.

Speaker Company that Jerry.

Speaker Wanted to build. And.

Speaker There was this wonderful situation in Spoleto, and so we were all invited to go there and work. And we did, and I must say it was very wonderful period of time and we accomplished quite a bit and I think we did so much at that time, I can't remember what we did.

Speaker That finally was the result of the whole thing, which ballet came out, which I actually haven't forgotten what some of the ballets were, but I don't we were like beavers that that summer.

Speaker And Jerry was in great shape, absolutely great shape and. But it was it was so wonderful being in Italy, you know, in Spoleto, and I had I had I'd taken a house with Lee Harvey, the composer, and John Mandir. And I think there was one other person, but I can't remember who it was at the moment. And we had this great big house up on the monument to look over the mountain behind Spoleto. And it was like a lovely Italian holiday. But at the same time we were performing, which made, I think, one of the most ideal situations in terms of of functioning dance in the theater that I that I've ever had.

Speaker But you didn't only play in Italy, right?

Speaker Oh, no. Well, I've forgotten all the places we played, but we played all over Europe. But there are so many places we did play, I can't remember.

Speaker That's fine. That's what I need to know. Do what do you remember, if you do about the making of New York export opus jazz for Valet's USA? It came after a big musical the jury had done right and used some of the same movement, maybe you could talk about that a little bit.

Speaker Do you remember the musical story? What's the story? Oh, of course, my goodness. Maybe you can talk about the relationship between those two things.

Speaker I'm a Sidorova composer, was Broadstone not a yes, but I've been on the west side, west side and the child was a composer.

Speaker Bub's Jazz was a guy called Prince. Oh, yeah. Robert Robert Prince. That's right.

Speaker Uh.

Speaker Yeah, I forgot that.

Speaker Do you remember what the reception to the ballet was like? You remember dancing in.

Speaker It's OK. You know, we can move on. Not really, I'm not really sure.

Speaker OK, do you hear that Bally's USA was under whose auspices the tour was?

Speaker Oh, Mr.. State Department, I believe it was actually the State Department, I believe it was, yeah.

Speaker Um.

Speaker I'm afraid I'm wearing down that's I don't know, I got it. It's fine. We're almost done. Thinking back over your whole relationship with Jerry, what did you learn from him?

Speaker Oh, my dear. Everything what to do, what not to do. He was it was incredible.

Speaker Oh.

Speaker And yet, you see, the thing is that there are many things that Jerry did that I thought.

Speaker Well, that's the way he would do it, not the way I would do it, but. When he and I worked together, we always worked.

Speaker So wonderfully together, just. There are never any problems.

Speaker And everything I ever did with him, I always immediately felt a wonderful surge of movement and that connection to the music and and the.

Speaker Cleverness of the movement.

Speaker How would you describe his contribution to American ballet? His contribution was enormous. How would you describe it?

Speaker Oh, it's like it's like a skyrocket because Blossom's.

Speaker He opened up a whole new world of movement and ideas, I think more than Balanchine had previously done that 20 years prior, and then Jerry came along and opened it up further. It was a. There were two magnificent people to have worked with.

Speaker And I must say, I was. Very fortunate.

Speaker OK, is there anything that you would like to say about Jerry that I haven't asked you?

Speaker Oh, goodness.

Speaker Well, you know, he was a remarkably difficult man. But on the other hand, he was remarkably generous person. Open he it was it was a great person, you know, and he was a wonderful human being and he had lots of problems and faults and who doesn't? All that kind of thing. But the essence of the man was extraordinary. And his I accepted, you know, his his sometimes one might even call him the vicious way he behaved. I accepted it because I thought, well, this is why he functions. And we're all different, so this is why he does it, and if you don't like it, you can either tell him or get out or do what you want. But I felt, what's that got to do? Except because I know what I'm what I'm doing is so good. And I you know, George would do something on me or when Jerry would do something on me. I think these were the two choreographer's in my entire life that I felt. It was exactly right. I felt I love doing what I'm doing, and there were many times that I what I used to just say, oh my God, do I have to do this with choreographer's and but with those two men, it was a musicality. And they're and they're dramatic and developmental qualities that made the dance such a rich and an extraordinary, wonderful relationship. And I did it. I feel so lucky that it happened to me.

Todd Bolender
Interview Date:
2006-02-02
Runtime:
1:20:31
Keywords:
None
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-0r9m32np9r, cpb-aacip-504-610vq2sr4m, cpb-aacip-504-959c53fk8w
MLA CITATIONS:
"Todd Bolender, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 02 Feb. 2006, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/975
APA CITATIONS:
(2006, February 02). Todd Bolender, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/975
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Todd Bolender, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). February 02, 2006. Accessed June 27, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/975

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