Transcript:

Speaker I met Jerry in 1953 when I was employed by the New York City Ballet as a secretary. It was in May of 1953. He was preparing fanfare and he just completed afternoon of a phone.

Speaker And what was your what did your position come with relation to Mr. Balanchine?

Speaker Well, in the early days of the New York City Ballet, there were less than three administrators. So everybody did everything. And to a certain extent, I was in awe of Jerry because naturally I knew what he had accomplished on Broadway and he was quite a personality. You probably was more of a personality than Mr. Balanchine for me at the time. So one of the things that I had to do with Jerry was be sure that he had he had the information he needed for whatever he was rehearsing, if he needed any information. He had no assistants. He did his own rehearsing. There was no ballet master. And then I think other things were doing the playbill with him, making sure it was set the right way. And, you know, after that, I don't really remember very much because it was so long ago.

Speaker OK, what was your understanding at the time or maybe came to be your understanding would be a better way of asking you about why Balanchine invited Jerry to be a part of the New York City Ballet?

Speaker Well, I would say that. Mr. Balanchine. Had worked with Jerry very early on on Broadway, and I honestly feel, although Mr. Balanchine did not say this to me in so many words, but he was impressed with Jerry's abilities, his talent, especially with regard to an American point of view as a choreographer.

Speaker I think fancifully made an impression on Mr. Balanchine. And I think Jerry's choreography for Broadway made an impression. And then it wasn't just Mr. Balanchine, it was how Jerry felt with regard to Mr. Balanchine. I think there was a part of Jerry, as in all creators, and he was a creator that his his impetus to find the best was innate in his character. And he himself made the decision to be with Mr. Balanchine one way or the other. And it's certainly a relationship that started, I think, in the 40s. So you have the beginning of a collaboration. And I feel it was a collaboration with regard to Mr. Balanchine and Jerry.

Speaker Collaboration.

Speaker In what sense, I always felt that the impetus of the New York City Ballet, in the sense of both Mr. Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein, was to bring a modern point of view. And modern at that particular time was very focused on America, New York and, of course, Paris. But basically there was an enormous interest with regard to both Kirstine and Balanchine to find American talent, American dancers. We obviously did not focus on American composers, but everything else was very American about the New York City Ballet.

Speaker Well, you have to remember that I was of an age myself and I was very young, my friends in the company were very young, and unfortunately, there was a great deal of comments with regard to Jerry's discipline and how he rehearsed his values. And he could be, of course, rather demanding. He could also be maybe a little insulting, whereas Mr. Balanchine, who was the counterpart, was as a European and his personality was such that he wasn't demanding in the sense that Jerry Jerry was I think Jerry got a bad rap, actually, because finally it really had to do with different temperaments. But he could be difficult. And consequently, there was always a great deal of of, shall we say, conversation and Jerry stories. But nevertheless, they liked his ballets and they danced his ballets well.

Speaker OK, we're going to come back to this in a moment. I want to take a little detour so that we're sort of roughly going chronologically. Um, did you guess where she was? Excuse me? What was that? Could you describe for those of us who never saw television, that's what what was she like as a dancer? And and. What was her presence like in the company?

Speaker It's very interesting because you're talking about a presence that today and 2006 we would accept as the norm. Whereas in 1953, 54, 55 and tell she was ill, she had a distinction with regard to her style that was unique to the time with regard to what dance was looking like. And, you know, it's very interesting because there was always a lot of comment about the fact that Tanny's technique wasn't that good. And because she had come from training from the school and never passed through the core, that she became a principal right away. And there was always a great deal of discussion that the technique wasn't quite the way it should be in the sense of how the company was dancing. Then you've got to remember, we're talking 50s. And now, as I said before, we're we're decades away. So what I think both Balanchine and Jerry saw, Anthony, was a uniqueness of movement, a uniqueness of style that was very much part of her personality and very much her. And that is why she was utilized by both of them in a very distinctive manner. She was she was she was framed, framed in the sense of the work.

Speaker How would you describe her as a person or as a dancer? Well.

Speaker I was as as a young girl, I was really quite frightened of her, I would say I was very, very careful, but I was, I hope with everybody to be polite and stay out of her way to do what was expected of me in a professional way. She had a sharp tongue. I thought she was ravishingly beautiful, of course, because she looked like a model. And I noticed that her friends were were limited with regard to the company and how people in the company relate to each other. She was also Mrs. Balanchine. So you thought twice with regard to how familiar you were going to be. Whether I like it or not, which is the question I probably would like to ask my daughter, I thought she was wonderful.

Speaker What were her qualities on stage?

Speaker Well, unlike. The dancers of the time, her glamour was was.

Speaker Codified and I mean to say you had Maria Tallchief, which was a bravura technically excellent I'm very aware of the audience, very aware of the circus atmosphere of dance. I mean, she'd kill me if she heard me say that. But nevertheless, Tany came on very differently because everything that was choreographed for her was always very specific, was very specific with regard to angular positions, very specific with regard to what her arms and shoulders were going to do. Now, that that isn't to say that she didn't do classical ballet. I mean, she was cast in ballets by Mr. Balanchine, Concerto Barocco. She would do serenade, but it was she always had a very different a different style.

Speaker I keep using the word style. I don't know what other word to use. She used space differently. She she also found she found something silly in DAT. So I was always amused that she she didn't take it that seriously. And that gave you another point of view. I mean, if you compared her to Maria, you had told you if you had absolutely. Two different people. Absolutely.

Speaker How did you feel about it?

Speaker Well, obviously, he adored her and he used her, they're just going to stop asking if you can use their names.

Speaker Oh, I'm sorry.

Speaker Jerry killed about Towny, of course, in the sense of wanting to do things for he adored her. So he placed her in his bowels where she had a very unique position in his values. You take age of anxiety.

Speaker I would say that was one that he used her in guests and of course, form, which was the first really successful work, popular, successful work with regard to the uniqueness of Danny.

Speaker Now, at some point he thought, seriously, I think about asking her to marry, but somebody else got in the way. Can you tell me about.

Speaker I don't know anything about that. You know, I have to be perfectly honest with you, Judy. I as far as the as far as I remember with regard to the relationship of Jerry Anthony, they were really good friends. You have to remember, I came in 1953. Tony had already married Balanchine. What happened before 1953? I don't know about it. I really don't know.

Speaker Um, eventually, um, something terrible happened to Danny. And I wonder if you can tell me about that and. What happened and what the understanding was and how it happened.

Speaker Well, in 1956, the New York City Ballet toured Europe and we played about maybe a dozen cities we ended with just before the end of the tour in Copenhagen. We.

Speaker We. Let me start again, because it's such a I don't know, what do you want me to say about this? I can't. I mean, you were on. Yeah, I know, in 1956 in New York City. All I had was about to complete a European tour where we had played at least 12 cities in Copenhagen, which was the next the last city. We were all extremely tired and there was a lot of illness in the company. And the day we were to leave Copenhagen for Oslo, we were informed that Danny had polio. Now, there's sort of a preamble to all of this. She had not looked well. She had lost a great deal of weight. Months later, the doctors informed us that she probably picked up the polio virus in Paris, but by the time the gestation period ended, she was not only extremely ill, but she was in an iron lung.

Speaker And there was for several, maybe a week to 10 days, the possibility that she would die, of course she survived and she survived wonderfully, but she did lose the the use of her legs from the waist down and from and her right shoulder to her right arm.

Speaker Do you can you tell me what Jerry's reaction was?

Speaker Well, since Jerry was in New York, I only heard and then later we spoke about it and he was devastated with regard to the possibility not only of the possibility of the illness being devastating, but that she would die. And he, of course, offered anything he could within the framework of making her life easier. Mr. Balanchine's life easier and her mother's life easier. But that was that was it.

Speaker There was, you know, correct me if I'm wrong, but, um. Did anyone ever determine for sure what caused where she got her illness or what caused it?

Speaker Well, if you're talking with regard to I mean, Tanny's illness is diagnosed with regard to the virus.

Speaker You can't in science be absolutely sure about anything, but I have to take the word of her doctors, not just in Copenhagen, but here in America as well, that if you take this virus and work backwards on a calendar, you end up in Paris because there is a very specific gestation time. I don't know enough about polio and viruses to to expand on that very. You're crazy. You listen to Todd Bolinder, I'm sorry, you know, none of this will go on, but this is nonsense.

Speaker What are you making out of this?

Speaker No, they're obviously people feel differently about this.

Speaker And I don't think, as you just said, you can't pinpoint it. So there are various theories about it. But we couldn't use we couldn't pretend to say it happened one way, if there's really uncertainty about it. So all I'm trying to establish is that there's answers.

Speaker Well, she believed that she got the virus in Paris. You never went back to Paris again.

Speaker I just. Were you around during the time Jerry testified? No, you were not.

Speaker I was not at the New York City Ballet at that time. It was a year or so before I arrived. I think you testified in 52.

Speaker It was fifty three, but I could be wrong.

Speaker Well, I didn't get there till May, so he may have testified in that early period.

Speaker Did it ever come up? I mean. Did you ever have reason to know how she felt about it or no, there was never a discussion. No.

Speaker Did it? Was there any discernible difference in the company and how he was treated or how people felt about him?

Speaker Well, yes, of course, there was comment with regard to. How people in the arts felt about this particular this witch hunt, which is exactly what it was, it was discussed a long time. Fortunately, I was only 20 or 21. So since I was an employee anyway and most everybody was older than I was, I let it go over my head. My personal opinion is he had no choice. Growing up in New York City with a rather conservative family, a father who had been in the war, there was a great fear, especially in this city, with regard to communism, the encroachment of communism, communism in the sense of the atom bomb. This is not to say that I agree in any way with regard what happened in Washington and McCarthy, but you have to understand the tone of this country after World War Two and especially in large cities like New York. And you also have to understand that Jerry was a young man, that he had his life in front of him. He could have been crucified. And I must confess, as I said before, I feel he had no choice.

Speaker Sometime around, I think it was in the late 50s, maybe 50. Now I understand that you worked with him in preparation for the Bally's USA tour. Yes, yes. Tell me about that. What was the USA and where did they go and what was the reception like?

Speaker The USA was a project that was proposed to Jerry by a government agency, United States government agency called Anta, and at that time had monies from our government to put together touring companies, whether they be dance theater exhibitions of our art, to encourage American art in Europe after World War Two. Jerry was approached to put a small dance company together, and he liked the idea of doing this. He went to the New York City Ballet Management and Lincoln and proposed this. And I think at the time he wanted to bring some dancers from our company. But because we were busy all the time, but at any rate, for various reasons, I was assigned to Jerry to help him organize in a managerial capacity his ballets. USA and I did that for about six months and it was put together. And just as we were about to leave for Spoleto, I was asked to come back to the City Ballet and take the City Ballet to California.

Speaker And frankly, I really wanted to go to California with the City Ballet because I was terribly, terribly nervous. I was still very young about taking a company and having the responsibility and having the responsibility of Jerry.

Speaker Could you tell me you knew where he was he was drawn to and what the reception was, could you tell us?

Speaker Well, the first part of Ballies, USA, was not a tour. It was just to appear at the Spoleto Festival. And then because it got together, there was the idea to take it to other to other companies. But by that time, I had suggested that he use another manager, Gianotti, around it because the bookings hadn't come through. It was the following year that you had the tour, but by that time there was a company and the general manager, general manager that he had hired, Johno took it from there.

Speaker And was your understanding of what the reception was?

Speaker I heard the reception and Spoleto was absolutely phenomenal because he had created several pieces for it and including I believe it was the first year I could be wrong about that New York export opus, Jazz and his own repertory, which was Forn interplay. And I can't remember what the last fall I was concerned, of course. Thank you.

Speaker So you actually never saw the company perform or did you?

Speaker I never saw the company perform until they had their New York engagement.

Speaker And what were they like? It was good.

Speaker But you see, it's a repertoire that I'd already seen and a lot of the dancers I knew anyway, Import-Export I hadn't seen except in rehearsals, and it made it made quite an impact with regard to New York at the time. Now now we're talking 60s. So, you know, we're moving away a little bit from from the the exploratory 50s. And it didn't have the the impact that his earlier ballets had with regard to cage and age of anxiety. But that's my own opinion. Public like the.

Speaker Um, I've always found it interesting that of all the places Jerry could have gone, he could have done a lot of places with his talent. He chose the place. And you talked about this a little before. And I want to ask you, he chose the place where he could never be the top in our.

Speaker Sometimes it's much easier not to be the top banana. He also chose a place meaning the New York City guy that could give him everything he wanted. And possibly more, because at his disposal, not only was there were there 70 to 80 dancers, but there was a real live orchestra. There was a place to rehearse. There were pianists. There was a production crew. There was a theater. There was a way to show his works. I mean, how could you turn it down?

Speaker OK, um, what was his relationship with Balanchine like?

Speaker This is only a documentary, an hour and 15 minutes. A lot of people asked me about the relationship between Balanchine and Djerriwarrh or was were.

Speaker I.

Speaker I've never really come up with a good answer because. I think it's because I was able to observe. Both of them, and not be conscious of the question that is now asked me all the time, because there was a difference in their age, there was a difference in their their abilities with regard to choreography. They made very different Ballies, there was a difference with regard to their pasts. One was Russian. One was an American. There was a great deal of difference between their musical ability, Balanchine was a consummate musician, played piano, he wanted to be a conductor. Jerry had to learn music. It was one of the difficulties Jerry had. We used to talk about that a lot because his ability to read a full orchestral score was extremely limited, whereas Balanchine could read an orchestral score the way he read Time magazine. So the two of them were very different. They also had very different tech, very different ways to work. Jerry was not a choreographer who could work very quickly. Balanchine was a choreographer who worked very quickly, Jerry, because I believe and this is my own opinion and I'm Balanchine and I did talk about it, the the the constraints of choreographing or directing a show on Broadway are enormous. So much money is involved and. When Balanchine choreographed on Broadway, he always used to say to me, I do what I'm told, I make the dancers and that's it. Jerry, whose whose instinct was to be in artistic control of the whole but Balanchine was making musicals at a very different time than Jerry was. And Jerry was going through the transition of the musical theater as we know it today. So when you say how did they relate to each other, you have to build in all of the aspects of who they were. But they had one common goal, they wanted to make a good ballet.

Speaker I'm going to ask you a little more specifically about some of the things that you were just touching on, and I hope that your contrast, the two of them. How did they compare, for example, in terms of how they worked with dancers?

Speaker Well, you know, when you're a secretary or an administrator, as I was, you didn't watch a lot of rehearsals because you were at your desk working. So I didn't have the opportunity to watch as many rehearsals with regard to the creation of the ballet or the work as people might think I had. And often I would go during rehearsal seasons when we weren't were performing at night, when City Ballet wasn't performing at night. I would go to the theater on Saturdays and Sundays and watch rehearsals. One could I could avail myself to watch Mr. Balanchine's rehearsal as rather simply, although I always asked him it wasn't true of Jerry. And he he he really did not like people in the studio who were not necessarily part of the production. So I simply didn't ask him. But I could watch when he rehearsed on stage because you could get into the theater and sit in the back. And it was interesting to me that Jerry talked through rehearsal more than Mr. Balanchine did. But there was one moment that I cherish with regard to Jerry. I happened to be in the theater when Jerry was rehearsing the first road company of Fiddler on the Roof. There was a Saturday afternoon and he came into my office on a break and he said, why don't you come up and watch what I'm doing? And I went up and he proceeded to finish with this enormous group of people, the finale of the first act. And it was awesome how he worked, how he he filtered through all of these actors and singers, and that's where I saw his genius and I'll never forget it as long as I live.

Speaker Can you tell me anything more specifically, do you remember?

Speaker About Fittler, about that we were some.

Speaker You know, if you're not a creator yourself and you have the opportunity, as I had to be involved with creative people and in in an art form that you really don't know anything about, never studied, and you've never been on stage and you've never rehearsed and you see this miracle happening.

Speaker You simply or I simply don't know how to articulate it. I think it was something about his his being every character, he was every character, even a group. He wasn't angry. He wasn't mad. You didn't do he you know, he wasn't happy. He wasn't sad. He didn't laugh. He just was the whole finale. And there it was. And then he said, do it again, and they did it nonstop without a break. It was all the way he said it.

Speaker That was the end of the first act.

Speaker In terms of and I don't know if you can answer this, but. I'm going back to contrasting the two of them. I think they have very different views of money.

Speaker Oh, yes. Tell me about.

Speaker They're. Mr. Gene and Jerry, of course, were were on opposite. Now, let's start again, I don't know how to get into this. Can you can you can you give me something to hang on, because you don't want to be crass.

Speaker How would you contrast Balanchine and Robbins different attitudes toward money and making money?

Speaker How would you want me to get into this with knowing the question that you've asked me? Do you see what I'm saying? I don't know quite how to you know, I don't want to say now there was a difference between Mr. Balagan and Jerry about money. I mean, that's true. I mean, I don't do that.

Speaker Why don't you tell me about Balanchine's generosity in terms of his attitude about how he made his ballets available, for example, and contrast that with Jerry's.

Speaker Mr. Balagan had an attitude with regard to his profession. He considered his profession making dances from the day he left Russia. He made a living on making dances. That's how he put food on the table. He never, ever felt that his ballets should be framed and hung on a wall. He felt that they he needed this to eat. So it didn't ever occur to him to to keep his vows to himself. And he was happy to license them to companies worldwide, which, as I said before, he did since 1924.

Speaker This is what he did. And.

Speaker He was curious about the longevity of his work, he didn't feel that after his death, his balls would last 20 years. It he also was a man who live for today. I mean, of course, you talked about the past, so much of his creations bring in the past and of course, he thought about the future, but today was more important to him in that sense. He always used to say, you don't have a crystal ball, the future will take care of itself. That doesn't mean that he didn't have plans and didn't have ideas and didn't want his company to grow or didn't want the art form to grow. And Jerry felt differently about that. He felt, as I could see very privately with regard to his work and how he had created it on the individual dancer, that he was very, very sensitive with regard to the aura of his ballet, the the the feeling that it gave. I remember once he said to me, years after he created dances at a gathering, there was an entirely different cast and probably a whole decade had gone by. And I said to him, you know, I must say dances really does hold up beautifully, don't you think? And he snapped back at me. A different ballet than I made 10 years ago. And of course, it was a different ballet.

Speaker But he was happy with that. But he was not is he was not you. He did not want to deliver his ballets en masse to companies outside of City Ballet, outside of the company he created on.

Speaker And Balanchine seemed sort of to give his ballets away. I mean, yes, he. Made a living early in his career, but eventually he became very generous. Is that correct?

Speaker If it is good, you can well, Balanchine was very generous with his work is absolutely true, particularly in America, after the Ford Foundation made a very large gift to the New York City Ballet in 1963. But there is a myth that he gave things away. Yes, he did give a lot away here in America. He did not give them away in Europe. And indeed, he had an agent there who negotiated on his behalf with regard to fees.

Speaker Now, he happened to accept lower fees than most choreographer's, which was his prerogative. I don't think he felt it was generosity. I think he felt that's all I need. This is what it's worth. And that's what the fee is going to be. Jerry, really criticize Balanchine for for not valuing his work in a higher. Since Jerry felt that he was giving his values away and I put giving in quotes and therefore he was lowering the standard of dance, which, as Jerry said, affected all choreographers.

Speaker How do you think they you would contrast them in terms of their ability to trust?

Speaker A.

Speaker Well, you pick up some good questions, let me tell you.

Speaker Trust.

Speaker I suppose that if you talked about Mr. Balanchine and the sense of trust and how he trusted people, he was far more far more generous than Jerry.

Speaker I would like to to say from my own point of view. And Mr. Balanchine had to learn to trust people, especially if you came out of revolutionary Russia, that at some point you have to say, well, if it isn't going to work, is not going to work. So Balanchine's point of view with regard to trusting people. He was where he was, let's see what they have to say now, you have to remember he was a Russian and he grew up in a society. In Russia, at other at the Mariinsky Mariinsky School, where. You learned a little bit. How to lead your life without getting into trouble?

Speaker I think Jerry, coming from the background that he did, American born New Jersey, if I remember correctly, and working his way up as a dancer and then having his first break at Ballet Theater and then on to Broadway, you really jump in to a can of worms when you jump into Broadway, especially at that time. And I think that made Jerry very, very cautious and made him think twice with regard to the projects that he then proceeded to create as the years went on with regard to trust.

Speaker You can't say this on television, but you could get screwed.

Speaker It's no reason why.

Speaker What about their securities are in securities as artists? How would you contrast the two of them that way?

Speaker Well, I would say that with regard to classical ballet, with regard to classical ballet, that Jerry had less less. Confidence in himself than Balanchine did.

Speaker And how did that manifest itself?

Speaker Well, Jerry could be could could be a taskmaster with regard to creating his works from scratch and with regard to maintaining them and the repertory, he could be very difficult with regard to wanting more time. I mean, that's unfair to say. Difficult. Some people some choreographers need more time. But in comparison to Balanchine, who didn't use any time, it became a black and white situation, and Gerry Wood got the reputation of costing more money in the sense of maintenance, in the sense of creating than Balanchine, who, for reasons I know not except for his genius, could could could be expedient. He could let it go. It's not right, it doesn't matter, public won't know, but we do the best we can. Goodbye. Jerry did not want to go to work that way. He wanted to be he wanted his own his own satisfaction. He wanted the security of knowing that he has put the very best before the public.

Speaker Jerry and Anthony were very, very close. They're very, very good friends, and Mr. Balanchine once told me that when Jerry came to dinner at their house, he didn't understand a word. They said they talk bird talk.

Speaker A Balanchine used to describe himself. We all heard him say this very simple terms. All I need is a bed and a chair, you know. But Jerry, he needs paintings on the walls.

Speaker And he said this is something he apparently said at various times. What do you think it tells us about the two of them?

Speaker Well.

Speaker To be perfectly frank with you, when when when Balanchine would say something derogatory in the sense of Jerry needs all these luxuries and I all I need is a bed and well, that's not quite true as far as as Balanchine was concerned. It's true. He lived extremely simply. Now, you have to remember that his life involved a four marriages and a fifth counting Danilova, which was a guy who was a common law wife. So he was forever moving out of his apartments. And it got to a point where if you were going to move that much, all you really needed was a bed and two chairs and what have you. He Balanchine told me and I've read in his biographies because you you know, I didn't know him from the day he was born. When he got to America and he made money on Broadway, he bought himself a car. He had a terrific apartment on Central Park South. He wined and dined people at speakeasies and clubs and well, of course, it wasn't Prohibition, but he you know, he often went to 21 Club. And when he was married to Brigitta Varas Arena, they had an incredible life because of her exposure on Broadway and then Hollywood. So I would hardly say that he felt that he was a monk and that this this tale that has come down with regard to Balanchine talking about Jerry wanting luxuries is really just Balanchine warding off. I would say it's just the sort of thing you gossip about.

Speaker OK, you know, she didn't walk on water, you know, and it's.

Speaker So jury returned to the company, he went away, he did a lot of Broadway shows, he was back and forth, but he really came back around 69, right whenever we did a dance at a gathering, which was six big Broadway named by that, the company feel about him coming back.

Speaker Well, first of all, he just came back to the New York City, my avatar came back by the time Jerry got back to the New York City Ballet in 1969, it was a whole nother generation of dancers. So some of these dancers, of course, were dancing his ballets that had that were pre-existing concert cage.

Speaker I may be missing fanfare, but nevertheless, I don't believe anybody in that in that in the company in 1969 had ever worked with Jerry directly in the sense of when he had been there in the 50s. So he had a whole new group of dancers to deal with. So they I would say that their impression of Jerry was was very different than what it had been in the past. And Jerry was very different. And there were some dancers who chafed at his criticisms and the way he worked and the way Jerry worked them. And there were some dancers who who who absorbed his his his ability like a sponge. You always have that. You always have dancers who think they're better Balanchine dancers than Robin's dancers. I mean, that, of course, is passe now. But in those days, you would hear dancers saying, well, I'm a robbins' dancer. It suited them.

Speaker What do you remember about the making of dances at a gathering in the premiere?

Speaker I don't remember very much about the well, that's not true, actually, I personally, I was very excited that Nalgene had asked Jerry to come back and that he had stopped. He was starting dance's at a gathering, starting a show. Papis. I thought it was very, very exciting.

Speaker And, you know, there's the famous story about how he started and he did four or five pieces and he showed it to Balanchine as a completed ballet. And Balanchine said, do more. And it evolved to what you see today. There was a lot of towards the end towards the end of the rehearsal process prior to the the premiere, there was a lot of angst because of Jerry's demands, not let's categorize demands. He wanted to he wanted certain things that other choreographers had never asked for the city ballet. So then it becomes a demand. It doesn't become a request, becomes a demand. So immediately it's, oh, my goodness, it's going to cost so much money. He wanted a lighting designer that had never used before, Tom Skelton.

Speaker There had been a designer that we had never used before, Joe Eulo and and anything new. Comes in to an organization that is so tuned to one choreographer, it becomes a dilemma. So we go through the angst and guess what? It was a huge success. The audience went wild. The box office improved 50 percent three day in three days. So, so much for your your angst.

Speaker If I'm sure I'll be here for a second.

Speaker Yes, I got the hair, the hairs recall correctly you spoke I think I read this note to Debbie JotSpot about the importance of atmosphere and intimacy and juries, how hard that is to rehearse.

Speaker I thought that was a very interesting point, and I wonder if you can explain that for people who dare I say atmosphere end and what was the atmosphere is a very hard thing to reverse and why that makes it more difficult to, in a way, maintain, well, atmosphere.

Speaker And Jerry's values are are predominant. And it's one of the most difficult areas of dance to. To maintain and to transport, which is why I think Jerry hesitated to license his bowels to other companies, and you must remember that Jerry would feel that he would have to be available to another company with regard to rehearsing his works for that very for that very issue. The atmosphere, the tone, the air, the space. There is always. There will always be a problem about atmosphere because so much of his work was created on very specific dancers and of course, those dancers leave and other dancers take over, which is why when he told me that that dancers at a gathering 10 years after it was created was not the ballet that he created, but the difference was he could live with it. So the the longevity of Jerry's, some of Jerry's works may have a problem in the future with regard to that atmosphere, maybe, but dancers change, too, and perhaps the art has become. More subtle. Anyway, because of this generation and the next generation that dance has already classical ballet has already evolved in many guises. So one hopes that the atmosphere, Jeri's ballets will be able to be disseminated to generations that come.

Speaker I'm just getting back once more to Balanchine and Robbins, the. The way that they worked was very different, this sometimes caused a little bit of agita to balance.

Speaker I wonder if you can talk about a little bit, but he made it work for him somehow and he made it work for the company. So could you talk about that and tell me why he did that, why Balanchine accommodated and how he did it?

Speaker Oh, well, Balanchine Balanchine was Balanchine was known. To be accommodating and over the years that I worked for him, I was told by friends of his from Broadway that they love to work with him. Richard Rodgers told me this. He said George was so accommodating and. You just had a knack for accommodation, but it seems to me that Mr. Balanchine felt that Jerry's choreography and Jerry's creativity was really necessary for the New York City Ballet in the sense of its growth.

Speaker Only once did I hear Jerry complain to Balanchine about Mr. Balanchine's choreography. And that was when Mr. Balanchine created Who Cares, based on the music by George Gershwin, which had a very Broadway flavor. And when Jerry saw the rehearsal, he said to Mr. Balanchine, Broadway is my business. And it was so amusing. I mean, they both laughed, but Jerry was a little resentful about it because or he pretended he was resentful because he really felt that Balanchine had crossed the line. And I mean, you're not going to use this. But he didn't feel that way about slaughter on Tenth Avenue because it had been created for Broadway. And we put it on Broadway. But Who Cares was the crossover between classic ballet and what was known as Broadway choreography.

Speaker People over to celebrate. Really? OK. Do you remember them when they were working together on Punchinello? Do you remember?

Speaker Yes, I do. I didn't watch a lot of rehearsals, but I really I never felt I really felt that was a collaboration. They seemed to enjoy each other and it was as though both of them had gone into their Broadway mode. And one would say, well, let's try this. And the other would say, great, now let's do this. There was I never heard of an argument and I would have heard it if if the the kids the company had had, you know, I would have heard if there had been a confusion about it, but it was very collaborative.

Speaker OK, the material that I've seen, it always looks like the two of them just because they are. Can you just sort of give me the facts surrounding my belly?

Speaker When it was made, Pulcinella was was created for the Stravinsky Festival of 1972. I'm not sure how long Mr. Balanchine had it on his mind to do Pulcinella because he always had, in his mind an encyclopedia of ballets and works that he would like to to create choreograph. The fact that he asked Jerry to join him was, I think, surprising to all of us. But then, of course, it made perfect sense because the two of them could use their their their Broadway skills in the sense of making a classic work, so to speak, a comedy and a Commedia Dell'arte comedy. Now, that was something Balanchine could could could relate to in the sense of of his knowledge of Commedia dell'arte. And I know Jerry had studied Commedia dell'arte with regard to all of the different works that he had done on Broadway as well as the stage. Jerry was smart. I mean, he knew what to look for with the relationship of different art forms through the centuries.

Speaker Wasn't much of a success, though, but what what was the experience like, do you think, for the two of them? I think that had me. There's nothing.

Speaker It's going to be you touching. Bowmanville, you don't know, as I said.

Speaker I didn't hear cracking was for the two of them.

Speaker I think they enjoyed it. You have to remember the Stravinsky Festival was to prepare it, you know, a 10 day festival with a new ballet every night, except for some that had been in the repertory before. So there was an enormous amount of pressure and very little time. And Pulcinella in particular was a production. It was designed by Eugene Berriman. And it was a huge it's a huge orchestral score. And there was there was never any time for anything. And with all due respect, Jerry, who like time for everything during that festival, he seemed to toss that whole concept to the wind and just dug in and did what he had to do.

Speaker Um.

Speaker He worked a lot at bar, which is kind of now your hair is hitting the shade. Oh, he was a lot of the guy which was kind of famous for not being always the most congenial place in the world to work. And yet he liked it a lot and they loved him. Could you talk about that a little bit?

Speaker I when Jerry went to Paris the first time Jerry was in Paris that I remember, but he could have been there before. I was for the, uh, for Stravinsky Festival in 1974 and.

Speaker I can't, you know, truly stop for a minute, I have to think about this. I think what you're asking is, is his Barbara, help me with this. Weren't you there around them so much to me? All right.

Speaker I'm trying to think of when what it was about that place and and the culture that was so receptive to him and why he enjoyed being there.

Speaker Well, the concept of the Paris Opera being difficult goes back to the 40s and the 50s, not, you know, and perhaps a little bit in the 60s. But towards the end of the 60s, a new director, Rolf Liebermann, came to the Paris Opera, Rolf Liebermann, even though he was an opera director and told him he loved dance and he immediately invited Balanchine, who he knew from Hamburg, which is where he came from, to come and begin to add more repertoire to the Paris Opera. And then based on that, Jerry was invited because the direction of the opera was much more organized than it had been in the 40s and the 50s. In the 60s, it became an easier place. There were still problems you never had problems with, but not with the dancers. The problems were with the unions with regard to there are like 15 unions or perhaps more with regard to the running of the Opera House. But the structure of the availability of dancers, the availability of studios, the availability of pianists or whoever you need was much more facile by the time Jerry got there.

Speaker So I believe that that helped him feel at ease. There is also a style that the Paris Opera dancers have. It's indescribable. Other people can describe it better than I can. But there is an aura, there is something intangible, which I think intrigued him because what he had created with City Ballet, let us say in dances at a gathering he could create there. But it had a different nuance. Actually, I believe Rudolph was still there when when he did dancers, because I remember Rudolph had asked to do the green girl variation and.

Speaker I I also think he enjoyed Rudolph, frankly, I could be wrong, but there came a point when she was already, you know, when he, um, decided on what he would like for the succession of the New York City.

Speaker Can you explain how that came about? I don't recall the jury, to be honest with you, I really don't have any notion of what Jerry thought should be the succession down there.

Speaker I can't I can't do this. I can't do this. But there was a point when you made the determination.

Speaker Yes. And she made a decision in the lounge. Look, you know, we all make decisions about our our demise. And then as we get closer to being demised, one changes one's mind. But there was no question that he felt probably in 1980, I would say, that he had to think about the future of the New York City Ballet and therefore a successor. And then when? Well. Jerry had made it very clear with USA that running a company was not what he wanted to do. Now, whether I don't remember him saying that verbally and but I I feel that I remember the impression that Jerry found running a company very taxing. That by the time he had reached a certain age, he really had committed he left Broadway, you know, he didn't just one day say, I'm not going to do Broadway anymore or any theatrical works anymore because he was always working on something. But there was a transition period where the commercial projects or even the non-commercial projects, the experimental theatrical projects became less and less.

Speaker And he was more and more devoted to creating classic ballet. So I am not sure. But I feel that Mr. Balanchine understood that and understood that Jerry would not be suited nor wish to have the day to day operation of a major ballet company, which it was by that time. And consequently went in another direction with regard to Peter Martin's.

Speaker And did you ever have a discussion with Jerry about his response?

Speaker Now.

Speaker Now, would you say. Well, before we get off that, so how was it then arranged that New York City Ballet, Jerry was still there? So how was it arranged that he would interact with the company? It was Peter.

Speaker It took months, years, as far as I'm concerned, was never resolved until he died, but nevertheless. The. Balanchine allowed us to have a transition period with regard to when he became seriously ill and when he died.

Speaker And his.

Speaker He appointed Peter verbally. To begin to work with him in 1980 and Mr. Brown said to me once, I need five years, I he didn't have five. He had three. While he was one, he became very ill and and and went to the hospital, he asked me to call. The chairman of the board and the president of the board to come to talk to him at the hospital, and at that time he told him his wish, them his wish, which was that Peter should take the lead of the company, that Peter had the background. And I think that background had to do with Peter's background at the Royal Danish School and the world and company and.

Speaker The chairman and president of the company felt that he was right and they went forward and dealt with all of the problems that obviously happened. After Mr. Balanchine died and Balanchine had suggested, which they did, that they appoint Peter as ballet master while he was still alive.

Speaker And Jerry's response.

Speaker I would I I would say that I remember that Jerry's response was, quite appropriately irritation. Other people in the organization were also irritated. But in the end, it resolved itself. You know, when Balanchine became ill and it was certain that he would die. It's like watching a giant die. If if that particular person who has been so important in this in this structure and important to so many people. It's going to happen, it's very emotional, it's very frightening. Everything that had been built by Kirstine and Balanchine is at stake. This is not an easy decision. It's not an easy transition. But finally, it is only a ballet company.

Speaker If you had to describe what you think is Jerry's greatest contribution to the New York City Ballet.

Speaker Jerry's greatest contribution to the city ballet is not just one great, it's many greats.

Speaker His. Ability to create. Dances that. The public. Likes. The dancers like.

Speaker That explore all areas of the art form in tandem with the other choreographers, not just Mr. Balanchine, but Jerry in the end has created a platform of creativity.

Speaker And in an art form, that is extremely difficult. And his contribution was to make the New York City Ballet what it is today and hopefully what it will continue to be. He won't be forgotten.

Speaker He won't be forgotten in any area. Fortunately, his vows are the one the one area of his creativity that are more or less intact. Where? Now you only see revivals of of. Of his musicals that are, into my opinion, somewhat aerosat. I know his name is on them, and I know people now know some of them, but they don't know Billion Dollar Baby, they don't know high button shoes. I mean, these are all the musicals I grew up on. And all of the road shows I have seen of West Side Story are OK. But even West Side Story is being changed and utilized in different ways. So what's left is this body of work at the New York City Ballet and other companies now that represent.

Speaker His creativity.

Speaker Did you see the original company of Halliburton? Yes. Can you tell me about the next oh, the marks on it?

Speaker Now I know Mark Sentebale. I was something I had never seen in my life. Now, of course, you have to remember we're talking 46 or 47 or whenever I'm still in high school. I didn't know from accent. I hadn't seen silence, but I knew a little bit. And the that whole sequence with regard to how it started, how it built with the with the dressing rooms opening, you know, opening up and closing, it was just marvelous. It's wonderful, there's a lot of things about that show that were great, you know, I like that show very much. I can still sing some songs from a.

Speaker Oh, yeah, OK, what should I have asked you that I didn't?

Speaker Oh, golly, Judy, I don't know, because I didn't really think anything about it, you know, I it's funny, I thought, oh, maybe I ought to quickly read Jennifer's book, which I haven't read, to remind myself of things. And then, well, I thought, don't do that because what's on the front of your brain will be what it is.

Speaker It can't be read quickly.

Speaker You know, I think there's some things, though, that thought that, you know, Jerry was very generous. It's just forgotten in all of this. It's forgotten. I mean, he could be. So don't you think, Barbara? Well, I think that's an important. You know, it. Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't know. I thought you were finished. I mean, Jerry was really generous. Well, he was very generous with regard to his friends. Oh, yes. He had a falling out with his friends.

Speaker And then but I'm sure all you heard tale after tale. But he could be. He could be at your side with regard to some problem very, very quickly.

Speaker Can you give me an example?

Speaker Well, of course, today he was extraordinarily generous with because of his his relationship, but friends of his who became ill in the 70s and 80s.

Speaker People he felt were loyal to him. He was very generous to.

Barbara Horgan
Interview Date:
2006-07-18
Runtime:
1:05:30
Keywords:
None
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-0v89g5gv24, cpb-aacip-504-7w6736mn18
MLA CITATIONS:
"Barbara Horgan, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 18 Jul. 2006, https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/992
APA CITATIONS:
(2006, July 18). Barbara Horgan, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/992
CHICAGO CITATIONS:
"Barbara Horgan, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). July 18, 2006. Accessed January 27, 2022 https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/archive/interviews/992

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