Speaker I've heard people say for years that Jerry liked simple, honest movement.
Speaker Can you explain that?
Speaker Simple, honest movement.
Speaker It's interesting to think about the type of movement that Jerry was interested in, simple and honest is a way to describe it. He didn't want any pretension or performing. I think spontaneous in the moment can help describe honesty, you know, so that it doesn't seem premeditated or calculated, but a natural in the flow of the idea of the choreography.
Speaker Yeah, it just the idea of the simplicity of the movement. It was almost as if he wanted it to be non dance. Certainly, if that makes sense, you know, with Mr. Balanchine, we reskilled ourselves to be so accurate politically. And then with Jerry, it was like we had to unpoetic the movement, you know, and to make it more personal, more human. So the simplicity came in to that type of idea or imagination somehow try to describe.
Speaker I've heard along those lines, I've heard several people say that dance together was something that was very special to them to dance, if that's true or not.
Speaker And if it is, I did enjoy dancing dancers at a gathering, especially the beginning after the five hundredth performance. It was hard but to capture the spontaneity again that he wanted and it had to do is not performing so much. Or there was a very delicate balance between including the audience and not selling the dance. He really wanted it to be within the gathering and they were voyeurs watching us relate and I enjoyed that aspect of it. But at the same time, some of the choreography was dead. And there you were doing your combination while the girls running around you dead. Frank, what do you do?
Speaker You have to perform as well. But it was this balance that Jerry was very interested in natural.
Speaker Mhm. I mean for me to be dancing and to, to have a role and dancers at a gathering was like the icon of Jerome Robbins repertory. So it was very you know, you were very tense about it and anxious. And I did the purple girl mostly, although I did do also the green and the pink at some times. But it was really special to finally get to perform in that in that ballet.
Speaker So beautiful dancers at a gathering was one of the first Robbins' ballets I went into, and it happened the first year I joined the company. It was amazing. I went right into the Robbins Repertory, one of the other dancers that hurt his toe when we were in Saratoga Springs. And I did a minor role of the blue boy that does the Kaching was a great responsibility, but I didn't know at that time in my career or how big of a deal that is gathering was.
Speaker I like the piece very much, but here I am, my first nine months and I'm being cast in this piece and so didn't have the onus on it that. But I loved it. I loved it. And then I got my own permanent part the next season when the other boy was better with Robert Marano.
Speaker When I said this is a gathering, you just let me know if there's anything else you'd like to tell me more.
Speaker I would the part I did, the giggle boy didn't come on that much, but my adrenaline would start during the 80s right before my dance and something I haven't felt ever again, no matter what.
Speaker In anticipation of the dance and participating in that wonderful ballet, don't you think also that it was these roles were so, so cherished by the originators, not only by us all who had seen them, but of course, by charity. And as everyone knows, he was constantly trying to recreate that first incredible those first amazing performances. But, you know, to do the role of came as I was just so special. And there is something about his piano ballets that are just exquisite. And that whole atmosphere was was unique as well to to dance. And it was just wonderful and quiet, you know, so special, so intimate, so beautiful that at one point I wanted to do more in the ballet.
Speaker And because I had a few dancers as they could go, boy, if one of the of men had a bad back, they would say can do the positive for me because it would fit in. And I always had time or I can't do the the grand waltz tonight part can do it well, you know, seasons would go by and I would be dancing every role in the piece, you know.
Speaker So I finally said to Jerry, why don't we rearrange it a little bit? I know that when you did it originally, you couldn't come up with the order. But if I'm going to be in it, especially as I got older, I didn't feel like the giggle boy anymore. So he thought about it and then he said no.
Speaker And then he gave me a chance to do the Brown Boy for two performances.
Speaker I actually. Loved every minute of it. Mm hmm.
Speaker Did he how did he encourage you to sort of dance with each other more or less than Balanchine? And can you talk about that?
Speaker He did. Balanchine wanted you to dance with your partner in a very different way. That was total involvement. You would look at you would look at the woman with with your aura and you'd lead her forward. And Jerry wanted something, again, a little less formal and more intimate and series pieces, for the most part, afforded more opportunities, more types of interaction between couples and more more opportunity for, quote, acting. I wouldn't call it acting as you find yourself in the situation and you react appropriately to that situation, which is different because the dance is different.
Speaker He was brilliant at helping you with the relationship acting relationship to the other person. The other the role, you know.
Speaker How did he do?
Speaker Well, he did a lot with terror plots, and if you couldn't figure it out, then suddenly you couldn't do anything.
Speaker I mean, that was one of the things I learned from him immediately was you can't you can't slap dancers into behaving. You have to coddle them. If you were bright and you didn't take it personally, you couldn't figure out what he was doing, and some days he was very kind about how to do it, and some days he was brutal and it wasn't always directly spoken.
Speaker I don't know a director's skill. You know, you're selling it to hard baby or you're supposed to be dancing with her, you know, not by herself or not. Then during a variation, you'd say sell.
Speaker So, you know, it really depended on the situation and your ability to intuit where he was going. I think a good dancer has to have that ability and a good director has the ability to let the dancer know. And it's very rarely spoken.
Speaker Jerry in rehearsal. OK, describe Jerry in rehearsal, Jerry.
Speaker In rehearsal, a quiet, very quiet, very pensive, very concentrated, seemingly approachable, but at the same time very unapproachable. You know, I always thought, oh, he he could be like your best friend person. But this is not the case, actually. Right. I think we all fell into that trap, perhaps. So, you know, scary. Definitely scary. I mean, you just never knew how he would react to what you were doing. You know, you would maybe perhaps think you were copying yourself each time or doing as well or perhaps better. But you just you could never you could never read him. You could never depend on what the reaction would be. So it was pretty intense in that in that way and again, very different in the creating periods than the rehearsing periods where we would be on stage or whatever.
Speaker Those were two different types of experiences we were talking about in the creative experience.
Speaker He was much freer and perhaps we were as well in that spontaneous like it's the first time we're creating the piece of things flowed.
Speaker And it was wonderful, really. It was fun. It was great fun. And then, you know, it's like second performance, always harder. And then you try to keep recreating that. You try to keep capturing that and it gets tense or more tense. More tense. It's hard. So I'm.
Speaker I would say that, Jerry, during the rehearsal process, was he the focus he was so focused on what it was he wanted to do.
Speaker And usually when the idea was concretize, the value was set, you were filling in for someone else, it was very difficult to duplicate and he was extremely demanding that you create that magic that he felt as it occurred to him to make it or as he experienced the first Castanza.
Speaker It was always the joke about go look at the videotape. What was this originally?
Speaker But. In the creative rehearsals, he was also focused, but it was much looser, much more give and take, sometimes he had to pretend that your input was his idea. Other times he would have an idea that we would spend hours trying to put into dance, and sometimes it would happen and sometimes it would just be shelved or resurface in another piece.
Speaker How confident do you think he was as an artist?
Speaker I myself always wanted him to be more confident in his voice.
Speaker And, you know, who is it me to say that some of the most beautiful things that he created on a first time would be whittled away and simplified into something that was not as good in my mind. Though I don't I didn't have the overall picture of what he was going for, but he could never accept compliments.
Speaker Excerpt from Balanchine, he accepted compliments and he was so happy, but he needed that he needed that kind of support, but I think he he rarely was able to accept what he had done as being good.
Speaker So hard on himself.
Speaker He was so hard and so I remember I wrote him a letter once because we had done a performance of In the night and I thought it was spectacular performance. And I really I mean, it was really a beautiful performance and great review in the Times. And, you know, the audience loved it. He came down on me so hard the next day I was in tears. I was it was like one of those devastating moments with Jerry.
Speaker So I found myself writing him a note about, you know, how, why, why, how can you not why can't you just accept the joy, the joy and that it was good, you know?
Speaker And so he was tough on himself and I. Yeah. How did he respond?
Speaker You know, I think he said thank you. He kind of mumbled it, you know, like, you know, he he got things every once in a while, you know, and he turned the corner and he he'd hear it. But it was, you know, far and few between moments.
Speaker Have a good example. Out in the public world, when when Jerry received a Kennedy Center honor, we were in a car or a taxicab. I can't remember. The driver said, oh, we're going to the White House tonight, you know? And yeah, this man I'm trying to make conversation. This man is receiving the award this evening. Oh, yeah? Well, who are you?
Speaker Course, you know, slinking back in the cab. And I said, this is Mr. Roberts, Mr. Jerome Robbins, who created, you know, West Side Story on the road and works at the New York City Ballet.
Speaker And and each thing I said, Jerry got smaller, you know, and I couldn't couldn't give the man get the man off the hook or, you know, he was pretty nervous that whole trip anyway. But who wouldn't be?
Speaker Mm hmm.
Speaker Right around the time that you joined the company I was making oh, yes, yes, yes.
Speaker How many times were you were you in when he was actually making.
Speaker Yes. Again this year that I joined. Well, I shouldn't say again, I'm not supposed to do that the year that I got into the New York City Ballet. Mr. Robbins had completed most of the Goldberg Variations, but the finale had not been accomplished. And we were in Saratoga Springs and he was working on the finale. Also that year in Saratoga, we presented a concert version of sections that he chose from the Goldburg and presented the finale dance as far as he had done it. I remember working on it in Saratoga Springs again. He took all of the newest company cards and didn't make the principals come to these rehearsals. And, you know, we were always being used and then our roles giving to someone else. I mean, this was very Jerry happened to me so many times, the Goldberg finale.
Speaker I used to think it was going pretty well and some of the dancers would say this is less tedious than he's been working on it for two years. And so it was the country that, you know, everybody gets in the circle and it went pretty well.
Speaker How would you say his response to Bach was different than some of the other composers he worked with?
Speaker As far as his response to Bakos, I think especially the Goldberg Variations being what they are as a catalog, I felt that he was also trying to be a catalog of ideas that kind of corresponded with box catalog.
Speaker It's a little bit.
Speaker ABC, DFAC, rather than a response to the beauty of the different variations. Now that's also there as well. I mean, there's some beautiful stuff in the Goldberg and there's some ingenious choreography. But I think it came from the challenge of that. I mean, just as Bach was using the same thematic material to illustrate the different modes of of writing, the gavotte, etc., the jury was matching him.
Speaker Hmm hmm, you look like you were about to say.
Speaker No, I'm sorry, I mean, I danced it, but, you know, it's OK. OK.
Speaker And that was followed by a very unusual ballet that you were in the original cast of Watermill or what those were like.
Speaker Watermill was a very exciting and strange experience. I learned he had a house at Watermill Beach. I learned Long Island, you know, what are we doing here at the workshops about no drama? I heard about one of the first things he did was a celebration dance with myself and Danny Lamont. And we had Tibetan whips or something. I don't know. They were like BOLO's. And he had two two things that would go in opposite circles. And then Lamont was very much into studying Hindu dancing. But we did a whole rehearsal of this kind of Hindu stuff to weird music and never saw it again, never saw it again, never had it referred to.
Speaker And that was my beginning. Experience with the watermill suddenly were in the room with Lantern's moving, then you're going too fast.
Speaker And we weren't moving at all.
Speaker And, you know, there was some pretty strange rehearsals when he would come into the room high and sit under the table and we'd go through it and he wouldn't say a word. And you get up and leave or else he'd bark at us and come back and things would be changed. And we did a very strange when I was working on the demon, somehow I had the effect on him of being his super conscious or, you know, I'm the little angel on his shoulder as opposed to the little devil on his shoulder. I mean, I had to be the castrating demon that's punishing the character in the watermill in the songs. I was going to be, you know, you know, Bible thumping preacher, which never got there, though. We spent hours on the dance. Right. It's kind of the role I felt for him was the minister, too. But the watermill about his I think it was autobiographical in my idea or slightly.
Speaker Actually, it's every man's autobiography is more to the point and theatre, pure, beautiful theater, many, many hours of tedious rehearsal. But he did get us all behind him finally. And I think we all pulled together to make something quite spectacular.
Speaker Never forget the audience's first reaction. It was total silence and then blew through its way.
Speaker And then over and over here, you know, it must have been like it was, you know, the rite of Spring and the chancellor's theatre. But it was amazing.
Speaker And we were laughing backstage and it turned into this action more and. Fascinating, fascinating piece, which he did recreate many years later, and I got to do the lead role, actually, along with John Cusack. It was a strange, strange performance experience. Very, very strange.
Speaker The lead person does nothing but observe, and he runs with the men and then he does a slight dance and his dance is is disrobing. And then, of course, he cloaks himself and wanders around and looks at the moon. I mean, he he reacts to what's going on. He hears the observer. And. It's a strange thing to do a whole piece as the observer rather than the observer, the doer, the happened to her rather than the make kapner.
Speaker And the fact that you bare naked and their is going on and you have to stay completely focused on what's going on.
Speaker Very interesting. And tell me about the rhythm of.
Speaker How did we establish the rhythm center that we had counts for? One of the only sections that really moves along are the men with the batons doing the exercises, and of course, it was kind of like moves where after so many counts, the first person would initiate the series. You know, we sure are doing the same exercises, facing different directions. That one would start after two moves and then the next one would start. And sometimes we would accelerate and add in double fast after where it would spread out. And of course, this was Jerry's genius of timing, when to disturb you, how long something could hold with nothing making the tension. How long before that could be broken? We had some very, very I learned some exciting things from him during the demon, which is holding still four seconds, you know, like an animal. Again, it's the cage situation, his his influence with nature and and then moving at the speed of lightning and then holding still. And then try to wrestle the straw and then the way he put the sound effects and to punctuate either the silence or the movement, quite brilliant and it would change ever so slightly. And then suddenly the next time we move that sound and put it somewhere else and it would have a major effect. Was pretty, pretty interesting, we had the soundtracks of the dogs barking and the airplane going over nature, they're all timed to the to the second after this person does that move, two beats pass and the airplane starts after the airplane finishes, four beats pass and the picnickers come out and I'm not giving you the right order. But it was hard to watch those poor girls harvesting the wheat and picking the potatoes.
Speaker And, you know, I heard some people say they just loved watermelon and some people just hated it.
Speaker Very, very interesting theatrical event.
Speaker Too long now the the performance was about an hour or just over an hour, was long, took patience audience with Twitch and he would he was able to break it up and again change the interest even if it was just the moon. It's like in the film of West Side Story when suddenly.
Speaker Or the Broadway show.
Speaker Suddenly they're singing and you're outside and the fire escapes of the period and you didn't know how they got there, Watermill is full of that.
Speaker Full of that.
Speaker Yeah, I did once, I was not in the car and when I was taking care of some of Jerry's stuff early on, make myself sit through it several times in the audience as an audience person.
Speaker And some nights was easier to get through than others. I do think it's one of those things that you look at, depending upon your mood, it can take you somewhere or annoy you completely, and especially if you're taken by surprise, purchasing a ticket, not knowing what you're getting for. I think New York City Ballet audiences were not ready for this. Mr. Balanchine would let Jerry do whatever you want. It was Lincoln he was very upset about. I don't know. He thought it was just a crock of actually, I believe he started the booing.
Speaker I think it was Lincoln who booed opening night just to get things going.
Speaker I'm not sure that.
Speaker I'm lucky enough to be in the greatest of seventy two, I wonder if you could tell me what was the difference in Jerry's response and Balanchine's response to this enormous task?
Speaker What about these two? Very challenging. A short time.
Speaker Mm hmm. Um, the Stravinsky Festival was such an experience. And again, it was my third or fourth year in the company. I was a nubile not knowing too much history, not being from New York, not having any of that baggage. So I could kind of. Experience and process the present, and Mr. Balanchine was recovering from lots of things that had happened in his life, and this was a major, major step through. And he signed so many ballets to so many different choreographers. And Jerry was, again, one of the U.S. is naturally Balanchine, of course, was way at home. And Stravinsky learned and, you know, the violin concerto he had done four times already. It was just those things would come out in 24 hours and we would see them. Jerry did Requiem Canticles, um.
Speaker It was a much more. Earthy approach to Stravinsky, much more the.
Speaker Human element, Balanchine and Stravinsky, I think, would go up here into the mathematics and the connection of spheres and, you know, you know, it's like this.
Speaker And Jerry would react to the peasant rhythm, you know, with like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire.
Speaker So requiem canticles. Very religious, but also very pleasant. I mean, we crawled across the stage on our knees, beating our breasts and, you know, made made sculpture in the center and did, uh, units and body movements and.
Speaker They responded to the task at hand.
Speaker Oh, how they responded to the task. I don't think Jerry was too used to being assigned what he was going to create. I think he took it as a great challenge. And he was very much a team player at this point in the company. He always was in his way, though. He was he was the bad boy on the block, you know, but he always had carte blanche and he knew it. So it could be that and balancing.
Speaker I think let him choose his music. I don't know how that went, I would love to know that answer. Establishing assigned him his task as he did some of the other choreographers, but. He he was done with his rehearsals. I mean, I had to be with him and everything I was at that point, according to Robbins dancer, we divided so that we couldn't.
Speaker So the.
Speaker We didn't need to be in two places at one time so they could both be working in the same studio. And I think Jerry felt some pressure about the time limits. I mean, he always needed more time than he got. I mean, he threatened once I became his ballet master for the Gershwin concerto, he he didn't think it was ready to go on the premiere date. And he kept saying to me, I'm going to pull this, I'm going to cancel this. It's not ready. We can't do this. Hit the scene that I thought I better report to Balanchine that this was a possibility because it was like two days away. And to be said, I don't know, it will go in whatever state it is, you know, just tell Jerry that it's beautiful and that everything's fine and we'll present it. And he can continue to work on it, but it will go so. The Stravinsky, oh, during this festival, everybody was under pressure and it was it was total magic, we almost would sleep in the theater and we would be late to rehearsal and we'd run over a. In the dressing room, we like can't remember this ballet because of that one, and we'd be talking counts before we get into the room. I think Jerry enjoyed it. I think he did that, um, a lot of pieces were presented during the festival, unfinished Balanchine's as well. I mean, Symphony three movements was in dreadful shape when that first took the stage. Violin Concerto finale wasn't even finished. The principals went off to the side and stood and then came back in the final step. And I mean, I didn't have firsthand knowledge of those, but I remember the history of watching it all. And luckily, I got to dance most of those other pieces as well.
Speaker So, Maria, hang on.
Speaker No, I'm fine, I'm just. No, no, no, it's not. I'm so fascinated. Yeah, I'm just my posture is waning to wet my lips.
Speaker Oh, yes. There's a there's a very good tape of.
Speaker Yes, you are doing so.
Speaker And Yes. No, I'm okay. Thank you. Thank you very. I don't know what I want you to start. Right.
Speaker What do you recall about the process? I think that Jerry actually started making about. Correct. Tell me what he did.
Speaker He did. I don't remember the first rehearsals of the did it. But I remember Jared's excitement about finally getting to do this project, I think it was something that he had held dear to its heart for years. And Bernstein was writing his score and he thought it was going to be his next West Side story. And he really wanted it to be. And he went at it with such vigor and he brought us all a copy of the play. And I must admit, I never could get through the reading of it, but I got the gist of it. And he began teaching the possession dance after the man is dead and he comes back to possess like a. And we work that through.
Speaker Only later did I find out that was related to my not myself.
Speaker I did again finally and get to dance the things that were created on me that for the most part, he would work them out on me and then give them to some of the other men. I did have a part in the debate as one of the. To get what we're called the priests, the magicians, and of course, it's about the Kabbalah and the different symbols, I think that Bernstine incorporated some of the numerology in the counts, which they're a little strange, and that we would do the earth and the heavens and, you know, the north and the south and we'd face the different directions. And fascinating stuff.
Speaker A very interesting and then he would go into a trance because he would connect the spiritual realm or the magical realm, whatever, and the other priests would have to take care of him. And they would he would faint or electric shock to, you know, flicked up in the air. It was actually quite acrobatic and. And to work on he was he was quite inspired, some of the best material for the debate. Of course, no one has ever seen because he axed it. I mean, there was a wedding. There were all the women over here, all the men over here. And we were dancing. There was a.
Speaker Lots of scenery, lots of pets, costumes. There was a beginning, a middle and an end. And what it is today is. The essence of the Kabbalah dances and what they call it, sweet of dances.
Speaker Now, we never did get all of that scenery on the stage. He looked at it and threw one million dollar gold plated flame away. After the next, you see, there was a big flame that that the the derrick was supposed to appear from behind as he as he possessed her gone after the first day. So all of the props, costumes gone.
Speaker After the first season, I think he got cold feet, maybe he felt it wasn't cohesive, maybe he was afraid to be as Jewish as he needed to be to tell this wonderful story. You know, if you're going to do it, do it. It's fantastic stuff. You know, he was always so afraid of his own shadow and.
Speaker The vic and.
Speaker His original idea about it, which never came to fruition, Jeri's. Inability to be true to his real voice. I don't know, I think it goes back to his his life. I mean, here's this wonderful play about the Jewish tradition, this wonderful score that's extremely Jewish and Jerry trying to do it. And I believe getting cold feet as well as it may be not working. He wasn't happy with it theatrically, but generally when he wasn't happy with something theatrical, he would work work at it until it worked. And I think he was still under Mr. Balanchine's abstract shadow and he was afraid to follow his.
Speaker Calling with the drama and dance, I mean, he, of course, made major breakthroughs there as well.
Speaker But at this point, at this point, you could hardly do a story that they couldn't make it abstract. I mean, what is it if it either is or isn't? So this he again didn't, I don't know, felt it would flop, didn't have the courage to go for it, whatever it was. There was a lot of wonderful things that didn't stay. And I know he had the whole plan because I saw it and. I was lucky enough to go with Jerry to Jerusalem, invited him to come and open one of the theaters with this one concert group, and we did some we did the five massacres and up through the grand walls of dances and gathering. And I was still quite young in the cast, but he loved Jerusalem and he loved his heritage. I was with him at the Wailing Wall and he.
Speaker Was ashamed of it at the same time, it annoyed, I don't know or I don't know whether it's a shame or trying to be some kind of guilt. I don't know. Coming from a Mormon family, there's a little bit of a guilt connection there as well. But, you know, you love, hate what your tradition is, but.
Speaker As far as the debate goes, it didn't end up being what he wanted either.
Speaker I know because the original plan was so much more than it was. I was frankly surprised when they revived the suite of dances. I haven't seen it yet. And in my memory, those were the crux of the good material. I mean, it was the heart of the ballet, but there was a lot of other stuff going on as well.
Speaker Um, when you were with the jury, what did he do that made you feel like he wasn't really coming to terms with his Jewishness?
Speaker It wasn't so much they're there on the trip in Jerusalem when we went to be the concert group, he gave a feeling of I love this, I love this place. I love contributing to this theater. You know, I'm not charging a fee.
Speaker You know, all of this. And we we went through the old town together. He says, oh, no, you can't go through this. You got to go through the Jaffa Gate. And I know this place. And come on, we're going to be here for this. And we went to a restaurant and he did all the ordering and we split the bill right out.
Speaker Jerry, you know, he never had coin money to call on what used to be a pay phone, but he loved it. And it was very exciting to see Jerusalem that way with him.
Speaker But when he gets to make a ballet about it. Cold feet, sort of, I thought I mean, we were we started with all of the Accutron, so we had the prayer box on her forehead. I mean, we were totally decked out with the I'm sorry, I don't know all of the terms, but and the wedding ritual, it was just so just as in the play, you know, very it's one thing again, after the next off out and suddenly the story gone suddenly not even in the playbill as Leah and the Dubik, you know, not even a reference to the Derek only through the title of the music, which I'm sure if Terry were like you were like eliminated, you know, you have to call Lenny up in heaven and say, what do you think about it?
Speaker Well, we're going to do it anyway. We don't care what you think about it, so.
Speaker Were you privy at all to interaction between Jerry and Lenny and what was that like?
Speaker I was a little bit yes, and Omri has a wonderful Leonard Bernstein story, I was and it was during this difficult situation and Lenny would come in to the rehearsals with the newly written music and sit down, play it. And it's fantastic. And we would work with tapes of the piano stuff to put the variations together. And, you know, he'd come in with, oh, I can't remember even feeling better with the dancers at the wedding, which I was very excited about.
Speaker I thought that would be really cool, you know, Fiddler on the Roof, whatever that wasn't it.
Speaker But that portrayal of that moment in life. And we did it and it was gone.
Speaker And, you know, he he would say there's too much or there's not enough and.
Speaker They speak Lenny threw a party at his townhouse after or I can't remember where it was after the performance and they weren't getting along too well at that point, as I remember. I mean. I think Jerry might have been upset at him because he felt the music didn't come through. I don't know.
Speaker What's your story?
Speaker My little story, very short, just, you know, just remembrances of Jerry and up in the main hall rehearsing in G, Major Polidor and I guess Leonard Bernstein had come in to work on something with Jerry and he found himself up in our rehearsal. And there was nobody there, you know, one of those private moments in the main hall or whatever. And and he was at the piano and Jerry came in and introduced me. And of course, growing up as a New Yorker, you know, at my age, Leonard Bernstein, and was just the god of music, I guess. Right. And just a wonderful person and. Oh, my God.
Speaker And so Jerry said, this is Maria. And of course, needless to say, he broke out into playing Ave Maria for me and he sang it. Oh, it's wonderful. So it's a good story.
Speaker A good memory. A beautiful memory.
Speaker It was great. It was great. I just wanted to not have to go through the rehearsals. Then could we just sit and listen to the radio? Yeah. Then I partied together. Oh, yes.
Speaker Then we had to rehearse the energy major because you know, such a big presence. Right. So huge. Fantastic. Yeah, it's great. Tell me how it was that you became Jerry.
Speaker It's a good story.
Speaker Is a good story. Reprise When I joined the New York City Ballet. Mr. Robbins saw my abilities almost immediately and I was taken into his repertory very rapidly because of injuries or whatever, given some wonderful opportunities. And, you know, I didn't even know who Jerry was. I knew what West Side Story was. I had been in it. I had been Baby John at the University of Utah, but I didn't know Jerome Robbins was the man that did this whole story. And here I am working for him. Took me a while to go.
Speaker But lucky in a way, I came to New York to dance for Balanchine. It was Serenade, it was Symphony, and it was his words that I had seen that I came looking for.
Speaker Got the wonderful added plus of happiness to Robbins, his second in command and creating at the peak of his creativity.
Speaker And it gave me an advantage because I wasn't frightened of him or anything, I could just be and do what was necessary working with Jerry, it made the working relationship I had with him different than he had with most. I mean, he didn't scare me. I mean, at one point he made something derogatory. And I just, you know, looked at him and said, you know, you don't want to use me. Don't call me to rehearsal. You know, I wanted to be in the other room. Well, this made him like me even more, I think. And I was able to cope with his isms. I could read him as well as anyone else. You know, what he needed to do.
Speaker I went to Mr. Balanchine. I said I finally got my courage up. I said I came to New York to dance for you. I want to do more for you.
Speaker And this came at a period when Jerry was really in trouble.
Speaker I mean, we had done ballet master after ballet master for one reason or another, for Jerry would leave the New York City Ballet. He had no one at the time. I had helped him out when we did studio live from Studio 8H Live Performance. It was such a difficult situation that Jerry was asked to leave the studios and we he needed a lesson. So I was on the telephone and going out to dance and then in the camera booth looking the angles, calling Jerry, saying this thing, going out to dance, and we finally put it together and got on in time for the live performance. It was very interesting. Balanchine was aware of this and of course, he would not let let Jerry cancel because it was the New York City Ballet and Jerry threatened again. I pull this project and he said, no, you will not, because it's the New York City Ballet dancing Jerome Robbins.
Speaker It's not Jerome Robbins dancers.
Speaker These are mine. You will do so. We got it out there. It looked great. I thought, of course, he was never pleased. At any rate, I got my courage up. I went to Balanchine, said, I want to do more for you.
Speaker Not an hour passed before Mr. Balanchine came down to the stage, took me out of rehearsal. He says, I have something for you to do, my dear.
Speaker You will be Mr. Robbins, ballet master assistant and I like.
Speaker But that's what you know. So he knew that Mr. Balanchine was very, very clever. So at the same time, I'm dancing all of Robin things now. I'm his ballet master.
Speaker I have to, you know, hold his hand, get his coffee, take his notes.
Speaker All of this learning steps still be in all the new pieces, teach the other steps. And now Mr. Balanchine starts to cast me and all of the roles that I should have been doing for four years anyway. So suddenly now I'm getting Violin Concerto an hour gone and the Four Temperaments. And after I asked, it was like a floodgate open like this. It's fantastic.
Speaker And it was wonderful to the few times, very few. When Balanchine and I were able to talk about Robbins or Robinson, I able to talk about dancing. I was a little bit like the bond between two parents for a while. And, you know, it was it was a fascinating situation to be in, but that's how it happened.
Speaker And after Jerry was very good, he taught me some really interesting things about how to start to take notes. And I used some of that to this very day. And he taught me a lot, a lot, a lot about how not to do things.
Speaker I think the most valuable lesson from Mr. Robbins is how not to do in order to get done.
Speaker Like you can't slap someone and expect them to do it. Correct. You can't terrorize someone and not have them break on you. After two weeks, they'll be injured you no matter. I mean, of course, you can save time in rehearsals by screaming and beating up on him. The temptation is high, but I've learned you've got to do it correctly from the beginning. Otherwise it goes in wrong. And every time the dancer comes to that step, you will see on their face that moment of torture that they went through in order to achieve that step for their fall.
Speaker I've actually seen it happen so that.
Speaker Oh, I'm getting Chinese sweating. He's sweating for a second.
Speaker I was his right away for years.
Speaker OK, well, for most of it here, rolling, just like you said before, they had this conversation about who you talk to. You're sort of in the middle between the two of them at certain points.
Speaker And I'm wondering what you heard Mr. Balanchine say about.
Speaker When I finally went to to speak to him after he asked, after Balanchine asked me to become Mr Robert's assistant and help him out that way, he said, you can learn a lot about choreography. I can express my interest in doing that. You can see the process. And most of all, you can help me.
Speaker I mean, you asked what you could do, other things Balanchine would.
Speaker I'm so sorry. What's going on here? Well.
Speaker Thank you. I'm so sorry, refrigerator, someone is making noise outside.
Speaker I'm sorry, are we really.
Speaker Balanchine and Robbins had a very interesting relationship, naturally. It's the first violin, the second violin and one senior and the apprentice and different outlooks on art, yet respecting each other's work. Balanchine was fascinated with with Jerry's part of the work and the organic ness. And I think Jerry was fascinated with Balanchine's core work and the logic and Jerry's ballet technique vocabulary small.
Speaker Just didn't have it.
Speaker I mean, he was in his early history, of course, he was incredible. He took many ballet classes. The one class he taught that I took was not good.
Speaker I mean, he didn't know the classical names of the steps. He didn't want them to be done in the same way that Balanchine did. And that went right to the crux of the essence of their different creative vision. And it eluded one, eluded the other. They would both stand in the wings and watch each other's pieces in total amazement. You know, once was it Peter Peter Martenson? I was standing there in the wings after a ballet or something. And no, it was during dance gathering and we're on the stage. Mr. Balanchine was standing there watching what was going on, and he he started to make funny jokes about the titles of his ballets and make a limerick about dances at a gathering in the night the cage came open. And, you know, he's throwing them all together. And I thought, this is my boss being irreverent about the other boss. I it was it was great fun. And we almost missed her entrance.
Speaker Jerry would want us to do a side that Balanchine hated, and so he'd get all these Balanchine Pudd'nhead people up in the room and then all of a sudden, you know, I don't care how George wants.
Speaker I want it like this.
Speaker Yeah. You know, they. So they they would go back and forth this way.
Speaker Scherzo fantastique, the first thing I was in awe of, Jerome Robbins created new creation for the Stravinsky Festival.
Speaker What a disaster. It was one of the hardest things I had ever danced, stamina wise, with Kelsey Kirkland, who was the biggest star in the world. And I was asked to do some steps that were technically over my head and he could have changed them. I guess I did finally rise to the occasion, but it was a killer. All of us would die, Kelsey included. And if one of us was injured, there were no covers and.
Speaker All of us went together to say, can this at least not be put on anatomy? You know, we went into this balancing of scheduling because we were intimating that we didn't like the piece and it was hard to do and get through, et cetera, which it was. And he let us have it. It's not up to you. You will never get. At the same time, I think he thought it was a pilot as well.
Speaker Well, we ended up doing it all over Europe and all over Russia, right in the dressing room and car.
Speaker And it was very, very difficult.
Speaker Well, so anyway, they would stick up for each other. Yet at the same time, I know they didn't. Didn't.
Speaker They had respect for the other's real talent and kind of jealousy.
Speaker I did you have occasion that she actually talked to you about sharing his talent?
Speaker As in anything being good, like I liked that I think you did talk to somebody like Amanda. I did. Let me try to recall.
Speaker You know, I'm I'm blanking me a clue.
Speaker Um, kind of been when you were in the wings with that. Did he ever talk to you about that? You said that you were sort of in the middle. Did he ever come down to you?
Speaker Not directly, he he went out when I first got in Violin Concerto, Stravinsky, Violin Concerto, Jerry came back and, you know, gave me it was very unusual, gave me corrections for how it's dancing in a balancing piece. Rarely would that ever happen. I think this was one of the only times, but it didn't have to do with technical corrections. It had to do with my weight, the weight of the movement, not my waist, too.
Speaker But he said, you need to be heavier, baby. Don't get lower than she is, huh? Jumpier who the role was created on. I had enormous girth and it was with Curran's on our opinion. He was a large, beautiful woman. I am the same size of her and finally it made it work. But I think that as I was approaching the piece again, it wasn't in a heavy enough way. I think Balanchine was exploring the way Jumpier was moving and it came out in the Partida, which which I did absorb. So that was one thing that Jerry did as far as Balanchine went.
Speaker I'm sorry, dude, I'm trying to blame the Romans biographers that Jerry was quoting you. So what is problematic?
Speaker Problematic personality? I think he.
Speaker I don't know, he had trouble with himself, with what he wanted to to do, yet at the same time he was a spoiled person that got his way, no matter what money creative. I'll always he was troubled because he couldn't take credit.
Speaker For his genius, it was never good enough for him.
Speaker He couldn't make decisions. This house he had didn't want to know he rented for probably 20 years before he finally bought it. He could have bought the whole island for the money paid on that house when he redecorated the the fourth floor hallway. You know, everybody had four choices of carpet color. You want my gray brown that after a year went by and his floor was without carpet because he couldn't decide on the color. I think that's a bit troubled, that's what I mean. I mean, he would make he would make a decision, then he would go back on it, then he would make a decision and get it for real and he wouldn't change even though he knew he should.
Speaker You know, it's not being in the reality and dealing with what is and going on from there is as much as you can. This is why you would have tantrums in rehearsals. He would have trouble going with a creative flow when it happened. It was fantastic.
Speaker But he wanted to direct it. Control freak, maybe.
Speaker Major, major, fine, you tell me how that went, because it wasn't actually making it for you and this is one of those cases, you know, was it for you? Did you make it with Peter physicality? And how did that work?
Speaker Each time it happened and there were more than I care to remember, that he would create a role on me and someone else for someone else. There were different circumstances. I myself had to kind of look for the ways to explain it to myself.
Speaker I understood Jerry so well, it was easy to work with him choreographically. I could get his idea and kind of flesh it out and then he would pretend that it happened otherwise. I mean, this happened from the beginning with Scherzo. Fantastic. You know, I think it's the dance with the little redheaded girl at weddings. And we would do all sorts of, you know, bizarre kind of acrobatic crap.
Speaker And so instinctively, I just go, I recover from something and do something else and. Oh, well, baby. Yeah. Now see if you can do this and then and now see if you can do that. And it's what we just did and that's what it'll be.
Speaker So at any rate, any major I really do think he had Suzanne and Peter in mind though he didn't let on and I had loved this music my whole life, as it were, about controlling.
Speaker And when I finally found out that I wasn't going to get to do this, I was really quite upset and devastated.
Speaker And when Peter found out how hard it was, he was trying to look for it.
Speaker We removed that from Park Avenue and he said, you know, here's your chance to to do intimate major. And I'm not outdoors.
Speaker I didn't know your ballet you made it for.
Speaker You know, he created that on Sarah Leland and I and Sarah and I danced together quite a bit for him and I think.
Speaker A lot of it had to do with the way he got along with both of us who were valid masters at that time, but also he liked the way we moved and he especially liked the way I moved. I think. I mean, a lot of stuff at that period was created on me.
Speaker Well, so, for example, if he was green, but it was really for Peter or he was green, but it was really for Meesha. Were those speech the same or two different?
Speaker I mean, I know it would be different because of music, but in terms of the movement quality, I was thinking of them.
Speaker Thinking of them, or was he thinking of you? And how did that affect the ballet?
Speaker Well, I do know that he would predict or he would he would go at something with the flavor of the person in mind, but. Also to we would get to a spot when I was translating the work to those who would dance it where they could not do what he finally decided it would be because of me. So each of them would either adapt it or or try to do what it was, Helgi was injured.
Speaker I'm sorry, I've got to tell this story during the hearing of the Dabic, or maybe he wasn't injured. Maybe he was just letting the process go by. And after one rehearsal, it was foolish.
Speaker And I who are doing the part of and he as the rehearsal was over, he went away and he walked by and he said, you're making it too hard, baby. Take it easy. I don't think he said, baby, that was my Jerry. I'm just.
Speaker Karma, you're going to be sorry, unless you if you put so much into it. I'm not doing it. But apparently he thought it was. Hmm.
Speaker Comes just before we get off, Major, what do you think's most distinguished about that?
Speaker Intermediator, it's monumentally long. The parade itself may be seconded by Diamond.
Speaker I don't know, it's it's very kind of floaty and.
Speaker I'm sorry, Judy, I'm going not blanking on you.
Speaker Um, you original cast of Fancy for you for New York City. How about that process if you want? I'm particularly about the specificity that you're required for that.
Speaker It was really interesting to to watch him.
Speaker I mean, we learned it from Ted Kivett. I think an injury would come in and they discussed the personality types, which meant a great deal to him, of course. And I was the the country bumpkin guy who sometimes does the party do and sometimes the rumba guy does the part of.
Speaker But since he was the rumba guy he spotted in Jumpier Frohlich with the little, uh, energetic, boxy Boxer fellow and.
Speaker He was very particular about the very, very particular, and he wanted that personality to come through. Now, I know he started with typology.
Speaker I mean, later Nesha went into the role that I did, I think was the Jonquières the.
Speaker I'm not sure about that. You know, I'm not sure anyway.
Speaker He wanted that sweetness and he wanted that movement quality, and it was a specific kind of funny waltz rhythm. And then when we got to the the jazz steps, he was very specific about how you did these things, the black bottom steps or whatever. And of course, the counting in fancy free is some of the most complicated timing and counting of any.
Speaker Of his pieces, I think.
Speaker Needs to be precise, to look good. The three men dancing together and.
Speaker Give me an example of not making sound or your shoe because you don't see your shoes, so that's a good example of this sort of specificity here required for people who aren't dance people. What do you mean exactly talking about?
Speaker Again, when when choreographers teach dancers, you can pass knowledge and direction without words, you stand up and you demonstrate and the way you look at the person while you're doing it or before you have to do it is either chastisement or encouragement.
Speaker You can say good or bad or more or less. I mean, there's all of those things, but.
Speaker It's through that that he would get to the specific needs of what he wanted, not.
Speaker You've got to look like Fred Astaire or not, you're extremely late or sometimes your rhythm is wrong. But mostly he would get up and do the rhythm to the music if needed. There would be counts. A lot of the times we would devise our own counts for sensitivity. There are many counts.
Speaker It depends on the situation.
Speaker Peter was in the original cast with you, as you said. What did you observe about his relationship with Jerry?
Speaker I think a lot of the people who danced for jury appreciated what he could give them and they also gave him it was a mutual. Pact, you know, not always the most friendly on the surface, friendly for a friendly sake. Jerry could be very charming socially. I don't know if some people who had worked with him would even try it after their work experience or would be able to divorce what happened in the studio into a social situation.
Speaker I know some pretty harsh things would get said about Jerry after some of these rehearsals and some threats would be made and sometimes people would go in and complain to Mr. Balanchine.
Speaker But as I was familiar with Mr. Balanchine, unless it was a very specific case, I mean, he allowed K.M. never to dance.
Speaker Robins, again, she had a out with him. She went and said that it used to be stood by her. And she was still very, very danceable, but certainly she was and it took a long time for Jerry to make any major for Susan. And he wanted to put her in this and that. And she was just back and he felt it was hands off. And I don't know if perhaps even had to get the OK about using Susan for choreography. I have read things about her and working with Çanakkale and his other favorites.
Speaker As far as Peter goes, I don't really off the record, would you prefer that I do that didn't seem to have I didn't have a relationship in those.
Speaker I mean, I know I can star and I don't know, but there doesn't seem to be like any.
Speaker Yeah, let's see. Yes, I was stuck in the dancer time. And let me move forward to Mr. Balanchine. It's gone time and the Cobley master in chief of time, which involved a lot of tension and a lot of diplomacy. And at the same time, I was trying to do some stuff on my own as well.
Speaker And I heard from each of those men about the other man and, you know, a lot of curse words, a lot of do they think they are and et cetera, et cetera. And the point was to keep the Balanchine legacy alive no matter what it took. And there are a lot more people doing a lot more than anyone knows around the edges and behind the scenes. Then the. What the books might say, and there was a lot of of of fighting and reconciliation, there was a lot of bargaining and.
Speaker I mean, coming back for a while, there was who is going to cast the balancing piece of stuff, even wanted to have a hand in that.
Speaker Hmm. So. Mm hmm.
Speaker You know, it was a troublesome time once, Jerry.
Speaker Figured out how much was involved other than just having the title, he couldn't do it.
Speaker He didn't want to do it, but he wanted the glory and he wanted the credit.
Speaker Well, this was one instance where he didn't really kind of get his way, so to speak, just because it couldn't be any more without balancing the mentor. And so it worked out well. I mean. They came to their agreements as far as I could see and hear, and then. Mr. Robbins did seem to have the ability to get whatever he needed at the New York City Ballet, and I think that Mr. Balanchine was extremely patient with him and his creative process. He needed it for the success of the company. I don't know if he would have been able to get that anywhere else.
Speaker Things like demanding enormous sets and costumes and then throwing them away after one rehearsal budget, things like casting.
Speaker If he wanted to work with this person during creative, I was used for nothing else at his beck and call to my career's detriment, but to the bigger art, not just me, the ladies.
Speaker There were a few untouchables that went without saying or either said, but the the limits on what Jerry got very little. He never got enough rehearsal time. That was one thing that he was always complaining about. Yet he did get most of what he asked for and other things would suffer if there were two works being choreographed at once and Jerry needed a lot more time. Mr. Balanchine would present his unfinished future at the time. I mean, over and over, I think.
Speaker What else casting, I believe he he got his casting sheets and filled in who he wanted, and then the rest of the program was still going around what Jerry wanted.
Speaker It wasn't the other way around.
Speaker Again, there were unsaid things if there's no one else that can do that role. So Jerry knew that if he took that one, that there would be a hole here so he wouldn't do it.
Speaker But he was still given the privilege of casting his works first, I believe for the most part of the time that could have gone hither and yon. And I didn't see all of that much problem with it, but pretty major things.
Speaker OK, Roger.
Speaker So now we're sort of we're into the 70s now. I'm standing by and I had to bring a militia into the company, right.
Speaker What do you are you familiar with his feelings about?
Speaker I think he adored amnesia and who doesn't, Tanisha, you know, um, he wanted it was a good fit me. She wanted to experience everything that he could. He wanted new works created on him. Um. I'll never forget when we all learned other dances, you know, before Misha came to the company, you'd created a ballet theater and then when music came out, no problem. But, you know, costumes and who's with who.
Speaker And we'll tell you all about that anyway.
Speaker Mm hmm.
Speaker Misha wanted to do everything immediately, and he kind of learned a thousand dollars a week and did them all was wonderful. I mean, I don't know how he did it with tendonitis like he had at that point, but he did.
Speaker And one of those values that Jerry made for him was the Four Seasons. Yes. So let's talk about that a little bit. Mm hmm.
Speaker One of the things that Jerry said about himself because he had trouble with large groups and I think that manifested itself the number of times, including the Four Seasons. Do you remember that?
Speaker You talk about it because this is not the best example, because it's true that Gershwin is very good, because that's a great thing that I mean, it's true.
Speaker Jerry had wonderful part of the work and wonderful solo passages, and he was challenged by the use of large groups.
Speaker I think difference of some of his ballets deal with it more successfully than others. The Gershwin concerto, he was trying to paint a picture with the movement and the corps, asking them to do some stuff that was rather unpalatable and slightly jazzy and very showbizzy to go along with his concept of the Gershwin music.
Speaker He got a lot of resistance from a lot of kids, though. They were all trying.
Speaker I think some of them weren't quite capable of doing what he needed or wanted, and I don't think his vision was as clear on that as he needed. But he did some of those sections over and over and over.
Speaker He is portraying he moving your arms and, you know, he couldn't get it right.
Speaker And so he would try it again at the end of the second movement. He had all the girls on stage and they needed to do something vaguely balletic and pull it together. And he gets the rehearsal.
Speaker He called me from the office. I was down in the basement of the New York State Theater with all of these girls. And he said, oh, just making a Grumbach Marley's baby.
Speaker He was like asking me to finish the second movement for him.
Speaker And I thought, OK, we're just supposed to do Grumbach, not you know, everybody thought it was funny, but it was panic. Now, you know, of course I did it. And then you go to that twice and don't you know what I mean? That's like Jerry, I'm sorry.
Speaker Under these circumstances, no, there was not enough material there for me to kind of flesh out what you meant.
Speaker But fear also of dealing with core, I think is a good example. And I do think the Goldberg Variations comes together very nicely with the group dance. I think that's an interesting thing.
Speaker And there's some wonderful Corda Ballet. Choreographic treatment in that essence, and I wouldn't call the grand what's called a ballet, that's just a still, you know, did you have any questions about you have personal questions about the Four Seasons, the Four Seasons?
Speaker Because we just worked on that. So what what do you think about that?
Speaker We did the court, his background. It's it's in part it's the Supremes behind the principles.
Speaker There's no substantial choreography for the dancers in that particular.
Speaker Yep, well, with balance, you know, also has the girls going on a lot, just keeps the stage alive behind you right there if you really look at what they're doing.
Speaker Definitely. But there are certain things that are you know, the girls are doing the ballerina steps in a magnificent way. And, um. Jury, but what in the Four Seasons?
Speaker Well, you can't really summer, you can't really speak about that's nothing about that, is that Jerry wrote that he had some real troubles figuring out big core groups. And I understood that that was one instance that you've given me another one.
Speaker I also think that he ends up using the Corps in the Four Seasons magnificently, but they're not really dancing there. Again, scenery. And that's OK. That's what it means for that partita. When you get to the finale, Steph, there are three steps put together. In many ways it's very short. You know, when you add in this stuff, it always works timing wise.
Speaker Jerry was so crafty and theatrical that he could do the recall and then bring it in and the loop together, tie it with a bow and the curtain would come down and make a very good at that.
Speaker But some of that wasn't the most fulfilling stuff to do as a aspiring dancer. I mean, to come into the theater and be in the core of fall. So all you have to do that night, not no.
Speaker You know, not a dancer's idea of being a professional dancer.
Speaker A ballet dancer, so do so, I guess it came down on the side of the audience. Oh, you always did great fun.
Speaker Oh, it's wonderful fun. It's wonderful.
Speaker What is great about the force? Oh, gosh.
Speaker His his musical reaction to Verdi was wonderful, actually, sometimes when we were working on it. We thought, oh, that's so Balanchine, you know, like I think was because he's already trying to emulate the master, I think.
Speaker And maybe coming up through American Ballet Theatre, Jerry's idea of classical ballet with more of the Boompa than Balanchine would ever allow on his stage. So, you know, do you know what I mean by the umpire, the four boys in the spring section or just those variations?
Speaker Of course, we've got resources.
Speaker We've got all of those wonderful things that he did for men.
Speaker But they're not like parodies. It's not like it's not Agon.
Speaker It's not the four temperaments.
Speaker It's not where Balanchine really contributed to the male choreography. And so, Jerry, when he has his chance in the Four Seasons to do this, in part he can tap into the ballet knowledge that he has, which isn't classical balancing ballet.
Speaker You know, it's what it is. And it's quite wonderful.
Speaker And there it is.
Speaker In the first instance, it's just so ironic that once he got home, he actually made a Revera card for him, which is sort of, I'm assuming, what he was trying to get away from ballet theatre.
Speaker Yeah, perhaps that is that could very well be you know, it was fun.
Speaker I think Misha loved other dancers. I think, you know, that's very pure love, love, love that sort of.
Speaker Before we get off the Four Seasons, is there anything else that you would like to tell me related to the process of making it related to? Oh, your own personal summer you did summer.
Speaker Yeah, I thought that again, I had the atmosphere roll and I didn't get challenged technically. And you know what? As I teach the ballet and as I look at it and as I have people talk about it, there's something about summer that everybody loves.
Speaker It's an oasis. I don't know. It's not. So it's a memory point. It creates a lovely mood doing it. I didn't realize this, you know, and teaching it later. I can see that.
Speaker I think you were also involved in the making of this. Oh, yes. I spoke to Michelle said this 19 very. Cheri, do you agree with that?
Speaker And if you tell me the beginning again, the core is used in a unique way. Um, they actually create the myth that the dreamer has to part with their crossing. Gloria, back on the step. You're very unaware that they're even dancers because you're so focused on the dreamer himself.
Speaker He didn't put the name the Dreamer in there until later. Oh, that's a whole other story. But he.
Speaker As the main person dancing that ballet, that's what it is, it's his vision of what's going on, he has to part them to get to the woman who's not really their yada, yada, yada.
Speaker He has to fight through them. He has to exclude a group out of the way like a dirty pond water. That's what it is. I don't think he ever discussed that as it was coming out of the choreography.
Speaker And the dreamer was only 19 in the dream and got tacked on later, didn't it? I believe it did.
Speaker That would have to be a research matter that I remember for one reason or another, being very Jarry, is that it is you know, there's kind of a character development. There is the same combination of as portabella movements that are now turned into spasmodic jerks. And you can do them so much that somebody could not even see that they come from the beginning. Portabella, you don't want to do it that much because you still want it to connect into the fact that the man's moving on and developing.
Speaker You see Balanchine ballet, you are what you are. You don't really develop during the role, you know, in the melancholic.
Speaker You're melancholic and you say I'm melancholy till the end and you get more melancholic.
Speaker But it's not about a process so much. I mean, Midsummer Night's Dream unfolds, but it's not.
Speaker I mean, maybe that's what she was speaking about when you said it's very Jerry this night. And I think it's changed as he goes through the situation.
Speaker And that happens in a number of ways, I believe it does quite well in the concert.
Speaker You have a wonderful opportunity to show many sides of this coocoo guy, as does the ballerina. I mean, it's really presentational of a complex character if you care to do it that way. I'm sure he would let you do a certain amount of that. The more you did it in, the more subtle you could become, the more he enjoyed it. He didn't say don't do it.
Speaker He just didn't want you to hit the audience over the head with it.
Speaker Um, the cage is, uh. I don't know. It's a drama that goes goes through it as short as it is, you know, you don't know this thing and then you meet with it and then it kills you.
Speaker Animal instinct. Um, what other pieces do we have?
Speaker Um, yeah, piano is correct.
Speaker I think that was one of your first big things for EC3.
Speaker That was 81 years.
Speaker What you remember about.
Speaker Um, yeah, piano pieces was for the Tchaikovsky Festival in 81, and I had been doing some things for Mr. Balanchine. I had been in some of Jerry's core ballets, but it was my first real opportunity to work with him as a soloist, as a principal dancer. And I had no idea what I was in for.
Speaker But just starting the process, I remember it was the ballet master for that, and I danced with Joe to do well. And in the beginning it it seemed very calm when we started to first flush it out and all. But then it became quite an intense process and it required me to dance in a way that I had never thought about before, which was for to to achieve a certain strength and and like power with being a ballerina to do Balanchine's roles.
Speaker You really have to hit them hard in a way, with a lot of strength roles like, you know, in Apollo or Symphony and see a nutcracker. Even these things took a lot of a lot of strength, a lot of energy. They're very classical, you know, even even Agon in its way. It's strength and technique and and all. And I hadn't explored this other aspect of being more relaxed, being more the female, being in a space on the stage where you weren't hitting things so hard. And this became absolutely impossible for me to achieve. I mean, through this process, I think the process broke me finally that I finally understood it.
Speaker But it was quite, quite difficult at first. And the choreography was beautiful that he he made for us.
Speaker It was just lovely to remember that he confided in me that he wanted this for Susan. It was he was supposed to be first. And so he must have started with Susan in mind. Yet it ended up being quintessential Calegari. And I think he even went so far as to have Susan come and look at it. And I don't think so.
Speaker Well, it was how it unfolded that he decided to go with the the six of us who were kind of younger and less on the scale of of.
Speaker Yes, yes.
Speaker I had to well, I had to breathe. It was hard for you being off balance. Oh my God. And trusting them and trusting, you know, we had to we were doing these beautiful double appears and false and and and and he wanted it super relaxed. And I'd have to get up on point with just, you know, the amount of energy to do it. And I hadn't this had never occurred to me before like that. I could relax and just, you know, go into it. I was, you know, trying to be I was still trying to be something, you see, and he was going the opposite way. And up until the premiere date, I mean, it was the premiere he was going to he was not going to let me do it. He threatened me. He threatened me that last day before the premiere. Then we danced it and something, you know, the magic happens. Finally I let go and it happened. And then he was very happy.
Speaker But no part was there because he was he was in it and he was the ballet master was wonderful at bringing dancers to this moment that Maria is talking about. He did it repeatedly with several of the young ladies. He's a real teacher in that way. As painful as it could be, I think it would open up a whole new arena of your talent. All right. To to to come out and add to everything you were doing. It really did.
Speaker And also to was the opportunity because Mr. Balanchine was not so much on the premises anymore, creating at the rate that all of us needed it to be. Here was this opportunity to be creating with someone that was marvelous in that way, I think are in a way trying to tell me that Jerry Brown outside of.
Speaker Developed a part of your talent that was new to you at that time. Can you just expand?
Speaker Yes, well, OK, just to talk about what what Jerry did for me is developing my myself as as a dancer, that I could be certainly back to Balanchine. Certainly the roles I had tried already promised to be were part of that. But somehow this essence of being super relaxed on the stage allowed my deeper self to come out. And I think that's it started with the piano pieces and then it just sort of built, you know, from there. And we did the Gershwin and that was even more for me than piano pieces. And I started to relate to this performing quality that allowed more of who I was to come out to the audience. It was a freedom. It was a freedom for me. And and the fear was a presence in the studio, hands on as Balanchine wasn't so much anymore giving me permission to do so. And you really need that. You know, you need you need the person to to help you to do that. I did. And, you know, maybe other people don't have this need.
Speaker I really need it.
Speaker And so it happened for me with him. The Gershwin was then a fuller development of this female, you know, a little more sexy, a little more jazzy, a little more knowing. And that started another developmental area for me, too, so.
Speaker Mm hmm. Now, I understand with piano pieces, there were many versions that wasn't unusual for Jerry, but we haven't talked about that yet. So maybe you guys could explain to me how that worked and what how did it work for Jerry and how did it work for the dance?
Speaker I seem to remember about piano pieces. There was a whole persistance that we did and worked on forever and ever got cut straight down.
Speaker And I can't remember stepping at the time. I was taking care of everybody else and trying to do my own thing at the same time. It was a little bit of a frantic time for me. I can't remember too much about that.
Speaker But, you know, actually my experience of piano pieces wasn't that actually what he basically what he did for us? Was it and it was set. So it maybe had to do with more of of some of the pieces or whatever.
Speaker Yes. There must have been times when working with Jerry and he decided to try something else and then something else happened.
Speaker Explain to me how that worked. How was it working for him and how was it working?
Speaker Well, I think he would resort to that to spend time when he was at a loss for something else to do rather than think of something new.
Speaker Most of the time now, that particular choreographic mechanism of having to alternate medal's to alternate and to alternate beginnings, combining them in a different manner, did serve its purpose for him. Every once in a while, we, however, as the dancers, we expect to remember them all and as the ballet master even more when the dancer is expected to have notes on everything that he did. Well, I just that took a while.
Speaker But finally we started backing away from that because he would walk into the studio and he would say, OK, let me see version B and then two hours later, OK, let me see version C, you know, and you would be like backwards and forwards, you beginning to hear and then put the second metal in and do the first ending.
Speaker I'm ready. Go. He didn't want to waste any time. He never had enough time.
Speaker If the room was full before he wanted to start, he'd walk in and make his presence known. I mean, like like he would begin to exude energy, odor and the whole bit dark.
Speaker Like you're not sure if you didn't do it.
Speaker He tap the bar, slap you still on the ground.
Speaker I mean, his time was was precious. And if the dancers came late, you were. You had.
Speaker You talked a little bit about Jerry giving you freedom on stage, a certain kind of freedom. Can you compare Balanchine and Jerry in terms of how much freedom they gave you in dancing, their respective choreography?
Speaker You go first, um, well, for for me, for Mr. Balanchine, it was a different time period for me, but Mr. Balanchine was the first like decade of my dancing. And then there was a shift from there into the rest with more with Jerry. And I didn't feel as much freedom in Mr. Balanchine's pieces. I I felt very much like I needed to emulate what what he needed these pieces to be. So for me, there was more structure for Jerry, there was less structure for me so I could relax. And maybe that's a little strange because Jerry was the one that was more definitive about what he wanted and more irate about what he wanted, you know, but when you actually perform the pieces, you see that the transfer from the studio to the stage for both of them was very, very different. Your experience of performing their pieces is a totally different space. I'm sure audiences can relate to that when you're sitting in the theater mean you can feel that energy change. So they both require something different. Balanchine fills it in a lot more for you. You have a lot more structure to work with. Jerry is kind of more spread out, which gives you more freedom. I never had Jerry say to me, you know, that he never expressed dislike in actuality about performing the performances. You know, it was more in the rehearsal process where he would get nervous, you know, so.
Speaker So when they came back after a performance to talk with you. Yes. How would that experience be contrast between Balanchine?
Speaker Roberts was from my generation with Mr. Balanchine. There was very little discussion about what you performed. Mr. B was very much, you know, on his own.
Speaker I mean, he would come back and he'd do his little bit, you know, on the side. But I don't think it very for me, it very rarely had to do with performing. I got one that was very beautiful, one in my whole experience with Mr. Balanchine. And it was after a performance, a serenade. And I treasure that. I treasure that. But it was very little. Jerry, on the other hand, sometimes he was he could be he had the this side in that side very distinct, but he could be very nice. He'd come back to me sometimes. Yes. Mr. Hyde or Jekyll. And he'd come back. You'd come to your dressing room. You know, sometimes he'd really love it and he would say something to you. And it was great, you know, and then you'd go, Oh, he's nice, he's my friend. But the next day, you know, it would be something else. So Jerry was a little more personal, but we've got very little backstage discussions from from anybody really actually at City Ballet was quite professional and very you would end up understanding what the connections were.
Speaker The rehearsals that came the next day, nobody was so point blank, is to say that you'd be working on what wasn't and you began to string that together.
Speaker I mean, there were specific connections sometimes that they had to do with making a mistake or the combination with the wrong rhythm or, you know, but mostly that was perfunctory. Every once in a while you would get that was nice, very rare. And sometimes you'd get what are you doing?
Speaker You know what happened? What happened was turns, baby. I got once in the Four Seasons where what happened to those turns, baby?
Speaker We did we did the concert. Yes.
Speaker So many times, so often that it became very difficult to be real.
Speaker I mean, fresh. Oh. So I started to get carried away and I would, you know, a national comedian, one of my favorite things was being able to make Jerry laugh, doing something in the concert that I could come up with something that was right and would make him laugh.
Speaker Well, I would go overboard and I knew that I did. But I was bored also to an audience, had seen it a million times. And it was there was something special quite well. It made him furious. And he came back and he was screaming at zero nine.
Speaker And I said, Jerry took it so many times, I'm sorry, I shouldn't do that. I know.
Speaker So I finally had to say, well, you know, I said I was sorry.
Speaker You don't want me to do it. Don't cast me.
Speaker And he just, you know.
Speaker I got the point I stopped being too much and, you know, you have that barometer when you know you're pushing the road to the limits.
Speaker Well, it's hard in a clinic thing, especially a great piece of work that you did with Jerry.
Speaker I'm going to ask you about a third.
Speaker I'm curious as to why that trip was special, you know? Yes, OK.
Speaker Yeah, it was 1981 and I don't know how it came about, but Mr. Robbins was asked to put together a group of dancers, another one of his companies, so to speak, courtesy of the New York City Ballet during one of our layoffs to represent the United States in China. China sent a ping pong team to America.
Speaker And we were Jerome Robbins dance group or whatever classically called it. And it was leader number three, Jerry Lewis, leader number one, and number two, leader number three. And we had to walk him over.
Speaker It was a fascinating trip, painful and wonderful. Jerry loved to travel. He arranged it so that we would dance for two days in the city and then have three days with nothing to do.
Speaker So sightseeing.
Speaker And he had more fun on those days for sure than the performance games. We did a live broadcast. I think more people saw this show in China than had seen dance in the history of the world.
Speaker As far as China was concerned, it was one of the first to be broadcast something.
Speaker It was a little snippets from and short cut pieces of this and that. It was actually pretty well done. It was quite a crew of us.
Speaker Maria was going to come and then she couldn't I didn't go. He wanted to thank goodness.
Speaker So he reacted to representing the United States.
Speaker He wanted to be well, there were many diplomatic functions. We were in four cities, I believe. And as we arrived, we'd have to meet all of the dignitaries. I mean, we were in the we're in the big hall with Bremer, whatever his name was, with all of the ministers.
Speaker And we would go to these dinner functions and we had etiquette lessons. And Jerry was very into it, very, very, very into who should be first. And, you know, the spokesman and he wanted Merrill here and he wanted me there.
Speaker And then he wanted, you know, and I don't know if it's him wanting it so much as this is all choreographed. And he did it very well. Yet at the same time, we were all fascinated with the laws that China was living under at that time. And I saw him trying to break rules on purpose to see what would happen, you know.
Speaker Hmmm, a bit of a rebel time.
Speaker Oh, nothing, really. I mean, the interpreters or I think we had interpreters and then we had KGB, Chinese, whatever they were, would come and they were always with us and you didn't really know who was who or what. But if you began to do something wrong, you were corrected very quickly and quickly became a little bit of a game with all of us.
Speaker Oh, we had to board the bus in a certain order.
Speaker That was ridiculous, you know, going to restaurants, I mean, taking the roll call protocol, you know, I mean, it felt like you were on a kindergarten tour to a certain extent. So everybody would rebel against this, where you could go between the rehearsal and the performance as far as walking around where you were dancing.
Speaker Jerry really pushed the barriers on that. And he wanted to go down the alleyways and see I went with him to see where the people were living, and he wanted to stop and look in their kitchen or kitchens.
Speaker And we were kind of herded gently around hither and yon.
Speaker Um, you traveled with a lot of the traffic was.
Speaker OK. Was he curious about he he he was he was afraid he loved to jury when he traveled to these different cultures was very into to the history. You'd think you'd see what made him so observant come out. I mean, we would go into a gift shop and he'd find the little piece of jade that was the smoothest.
Speaker And he, you know, because it interested him, the rest of it didn't matter. But he'd have this thing out and he'd be feeling the rim and, you know, it'd be time to go. And you'd have to say, Jerry, we have to go to the next place. Now, we can't decide whether to buy it or not buy it.
Speaker You know, it's like a nickel, you know, in Russia before I was this is very early in my career and he was quite paranoid.
Speaker And he left early because of his connection with the the I mean, alleged Redds situation. And we also had people following us around. He didn't like that. We were not getting good fruit on that first Russian tour. And Jerry just disappeared. Um, sometimes if he wasn't having a good story, just leave. And that was fine.
Speaker Mr. Boss, Jerry was very into what was being created in the world. He was familiar with the film world, what was developing in the museums. And every once in a while he would come in and say, oh, did you see such and such? I never forget. On some tours, he rounded up a group of us and we all went to see Robert De Niro in The Deer Hunter.
Speaker What a magnificent film. But that Mr. Robbins would do that on tour was an Austrian. I mean, once he the Egyptian exhibit opened up its new, uh, the Dendur Temple, I believe, and they closed it. He was invited to have a viewing before the public and he called up Heather and I. And we were suddenly there with Tom Robinson one Saturday afternoon in the Denver temple mazing.
Speaker Um. Every once in a while, he would drop a story about one of his famous connections, but it was always to illustrate or to break the tension.
Speaker How about know how to encourage?
Speaker Did he take you to museums urging the museum, not like Lincoln did, that a lot more.
Speaker Not as much.
Speaker Well, let's talk about. You're telling me, OK, why which is special for you.
Speaker Right. We were remembering the Gershwin concerto and how that was another step that aided in my development as a ballerina and as a performer. And that responsibility of creating something new and how that was different than just doing regular repertory. Right. So that was a whole different different level.
Speaker And I think, Jerry, very good to of of the person that you are and how he would bring that out.
Speaker Like my first entrance, you know, I played the loner type and and and it kind of ended up that that is who I am. I am a loner type and reflective type. And and he was portraying that obviously he needed needed that element, but it fit it was a little bit like a glove, you know, and he gave me steps, exciting steps that I'd never really tried on stage before, you know, like a great jump at a turn thing. It was very exciting and wonderful. Partito work with with Mel Thomlinson, big, big lifts, you know, huge, huge lift there. And I'd never done anything like that. And that was terrific. But then there was this other element that just to mention this New York aspect to this this Gershwin, we were doing Gershwin in a way, you know, that we hadn't tried before. And that was extremely exciting and fulfilling. And I was a New Yorker born in New York. And, um, I think there were elements to that, that we were so, you know, subconsciously drawing on. And I think that's what made it work. And for me, at least as a dancer, I think that made it come together again, a really hard process, a really you know, I could not get the first Borey right. Ever problem, you know, never.
Speaker But then when it was a big success, you know, always well. And then everything relaxed, maybe just a little bit.
Speaker Yeah. Oh.
Speaker Let's talk a little bit about the genesis of this last piece, how you were talking at one point that Jerry had some interest in downtown Dallas at the time he began. I was thinking about.
Speaker How do I know this the kitchen was happening?
Speaker They were Steve Rice, Philip Glass were doing projects here. They were John.
Speaker It was just in the in the general air.
Speaker There was a need for a new piece. I think it was the first thing you created after Balanchine passed away.
Speaker Did you go to this concert?
Speaker I know he had been to Robert Wilson's Akhenaten and he liked the music, which is the third section of the glass pieces and.
Speaker He had the house in Watermill, and at that point I had a home in East Hampton, so we would get together every once in a while and he would come to my house and I make stained glass pieces, you know, and I make stained glass lamps and my hobby I always have and panels, four doors. And he was admiring of it. And then a week later in the summer, he said, Come over to my house and bring your pictures, slides of what you've made. So we're talking about Robert Wilson came up, Philip Glass came up, and suddenly it's like cherished to ballet about stained glass, you know, glass pieces for this justice.
Speaker In this case, I can wear those colors and black and white where you get in there.
Speaker And I know he I know he had been working with Cliff, with Bob Wilson that or doing it and suddenly were in rehearsals together doing he started sort of with the Partita didn't he.
Speaker I don't know. Yeah. No, I mean, I mean because of our size difference, I mean we are definitely partners.
Speaker And as far as dance partners went, it came kind of late in both of our careers.
Speaker And I think, Jerry, I had never a partner. I would not normally partner with Bart because when I'm on toe, I'm taller. Yes. But I don't know where he got that idea. Maybe the hair.
Speaker Well, I had to do the similar with the temperament and the color and strange he started. I'm old fashioned with Maria and I. That was perhaps his first foray. One of the dance, I think was called lazy. And suddenly it wasn't Maria and it was going to be Dorothy. And then it was together. And he he was moving around people. But that was our first thing. Then after that. Well, maybe that was after last pieces. I think timeline not quite right. I think it was.
Speaker I don't know anymore. OK, all right. Let's try to put this together. Well, it's very confusing. And that was after glass.
Speaker Let's just try to corner. Yeah. How did the set evolve to set the Philip Glass music is block sections.
Speaker We all know many repeats, many repeats, and then on the eighth repeat, one note changes and then you play that eight times. So Jerry had to map out the music to get his concept of how it was going.
Speaker And one day he came in and he threw this map at me, who was the ballet master at the time, as well as being in the second movement and said, here, this is what the music is.
Speaker And it was very helpful because we knew what was coming. We knew when when the chorus would come in, which became groups of seven four, repeated seven, and then it would go back to material and very ingenious. And so anyway, Jerry had done the work to move it up. Well, I could kind of get the counts and follow along making my notes as it went, but there was not enough space.
Speaker So I