Speaker Actually, my first encounter with Jerry, which was which was not direct, of course, was I had submitted designs as a student in graduate school through the auspices, I think, of TKG, and I never even knew where they were sent. I think that was just a portfolio you sent in. And he was one of the people reviewing it and wrote me a note saying how beautiful the work had been and how, I mean, very generous and of course, completely overwhelming for me. And and I probably saved it someplace and and then forgot about it years later in working with Twyla and in doing a bit about doing push specifically. I was, of course, riding on her coattails, I suppose, and also because of my the beginning of a relationship with Baryshnikov was the person that Jerry approached to do other dances. I later watched how he must always come to his credit, persued young designers and followed work and kept up with what was going on in the theater and and then in the creative arts. I think in general, I mean, he was his boundless and that and his energy in terms of that, I think it was his. It works both ways, as everything did with Jerry, that he was always trying to keep up to see what there was, to kind of push himself to remain, you know, keep up with other people and know what the competition was, as well as to be, in theory, invigorated by other people's work, that ultimately, by the time I got to work with him, was not a possibility. He really wanted you to do largely versions of what he had done and he was comfortable with it was very taxing working with him because he would talk one about one thing and in fact, would not allow you to deliver that thing ever.

Speaker Was he generally encouraging people in your experience?

Speaker I never really saw him interacting specifically after I had worked with with Jerry, I would hear from other young designers about their encounters with him and how he had. And you often compared war stories even with Sharriff when they were when I was at Barbara Mitra's doing something and the Robbins Broadway was being mounted. I was thrilled to be around Sharav and and to get to know her a little bit. And and much to my amazement, he was as brutal, if not more so to her. I think probably more so because, of course, sadly, I think he resented anyone's success beyond his fear. And and she, of course, had a remarkable career separate from him. And and she was, you know, incredibly respectful. But and Oliver Smith as well, Oliver Smith, was reduced to the same kind of anxiety level as anybody, any any novice or young designer was. And now that's fine. In a way, it allows you to we all continued to struggle and to feel we have to please the great master. I remember my last conversation with Jerry, in fact, was I called him and said, ask how he was and all that. And and probably the last actual thing I did with him was remounting a couple ballets, the Four Seasons and Sweet of dances in Paris. And he was quite frail by now. And but I called him and said I was still willing to give it a try because you never felt you really. Delivered on what he wanted. I mean, in a way that was just Gerry with himself, but again, by time I managed to work with him or was able to work with him. The decline had certainly begun. He was everything after other dances, which is, of course, is a bit of a, you know, a retread from dances of the gathering, except that it had the luminous performing factors. It was it was it was now not so much interesting work.

Speaker Just if you can give me a sentence for people who don't know who share oh, irony.

Speaker All right. Irene Shariff, who was this amazing costume designer and designed costumes for West Side Story and and many ballets of Jerry's interplay and and, of course, the King and I and therefore the Uncle Tom's Cabin ballet and became a remarkable film designer. So but she had a really early history with Jerry in the 40s and and and on and and of course, in being a rather strong woman and and confident designer, he probably felt that she was never as endlessly flexible as he wanted his designers to be.

Speaker Tell me how you first had occasion to work with Jerry?

Speaker The first piece I did was other dances, and I think it was largely because I was a bit the new kid at the ballet. And Push comes to shove had been was such a triumph and Mischa had been, you know, was was had seemed to be fond of me. And I can't quite remember when that was. Was it seventy seven. Seventy eight or something like that. But. They Natasha and Misha. Misha was kind of easy about things.

Speaker We're very approachable, and I really worked with them more than with Jerry.

Speaker Jerry was involved in the color and this kind of shape a bit, but it was more my making Natasha happy.

Speaker And the jury must have told you something about the dance or something.

Speaker Well, I went to a rehearsal. It was more that approach. You attend a rehearsal, you see what they're doing. You you hear the Chopin, you I'd seen dances at a gathering. It's very in that school, of course. And so I just went from there and.

Speaker You know, and then we actually did it in a rather simplified version and the dress stayed the same. She wore a shirt originally, which was a shirt actually of Jaris that we dyed. And this is Summariser that we dyed blue and.

Speaker That's OK.

Speaker We just keep going and and then but that was that was actually fun, that piece. And then we did a more refined version of other dances when we moved on to other couples.

Speaker What do you remember about this?

Speaker Well, being nervous, I was always nervous of the rehearsals.

Speaker Also, you felt in the presence of Mischa and Natasha that you were just kind of privileged to be in the room, although they were not without attitude completely and very much while Michelle would do amusing takes on Jerry's behavior always, but very much in a room with people working to arrive at something and to make something beautiful.

Speaker It was later that it became when I start when I did pieces with Jerry and the company at City Ballet, that it became a different situation. What did you observe between the relationship between Jerry Misha, who is I think was still thrilled to be in the States and working with the master's younger and older, was was very open to Jerry and wanted to be and also was thrilled by the Americanization of Baryshnikov. You know, it was it was finding whether it was the lyrical exploitation of what he offered or was it or if it was a different vocabulary. I think doing Twyla, of course, was a whole new adventure. And and and even the. Proceeded with Alvin Ailey, the member of the Duke Ellington piece. I mean, those were, for me, a really kind of, you know, coming to New York. That was the it was that trip for him.

Speaker How about you, Jerry?

Speaker It was hard to read that she always needed the kind of nurturing it seemed to me being around her nurturing.

Speaker And she was fragile, although she was sprung steel and and and and was the clock seemed to be constantly deafening. Her she was so aware of aging all the noise and concerned about how her frailty, visually and but but sensible about it at the same time. Real artist, I thought. But I remember Moesha at one point during a rehearsal and she couldn't remember the steps and other dances this was. And he would say to her that, you know, let your body remember, your body remembers you. And he said it was end. And he said, don't, don't, don't try to remember it yourself.

Speaker It's.

Speaker I heard Jerry say once that, um, collaboration is like a lot of people getting stuck on flypaper together. Um, how would you describe him as a collaborator?

Speaker I don't think he really. But as again, by the 70s, the mid 70s, I don't think he really could collaborate effectively. He would have certain ideas. Maybe you could actually surprise him in a way that he responded, but ultimately he would analyze it to death and and there would be nothing left. And the worst part of the experiences with Jerry is that he ultimately. And it's fascinating to me, because I always feel and I hear it in conversations with other choreographers, how much I learned from him. About how you dress someone, how you divide the stage, how what is behind someone, how it cuts across their body, so much to learn, so much he offered. And yet, as I said to him, I said, you know, Jerry, I'm trying to keep up, but you change the rules every minute. And that was, in fact, the case. You would leave a meeting and you think, oh, this is fantastic. And the next day you would you would articulate what he had asked you to do and he would say, oh, no, no, not that at all.

Speaker So you were ultimately denied a kind of instinct on a piece.

Speaker It's very interesting right now where redo we are making the Four Seasons, which I suppose is the most popular piece of his that I do other than other dances and.

Speaker I'm finding there are cartons of work from that piece and.

Speaker And I'm finding the ones I liked, which he completely dismissed. He didn't quite, you know, he was he was so frightened by decision and the commitment to it. It was very it was it was it was tough. But, you know, he was on the other hand, he would have these moments that were just very exciting, of course.

Speaker Do you, um, well, let me read you something else, Sheldon Harnick, you said you're driving everybody crazy because he had a vision that extended down to little brush brushstroke and say.

Speaker And the triangle part, an orchestra. Did you find that to be.

Speaker Not really. I think he became so frightened by his own history that it just.

Speaker It just was a debilitating. And when he would ask him if you decided to have a kind of whether it was diversionary or genuine small talk or occasionally I would even ask him about a production or that if he had seen it and it would all revert back to him. I remember distinctly saying Twila's piece of Baker's dozen, which I love and which I thought we all did particularly interesting work on, and it had been, of course, a peculiar process, as always with Twyla. But no one knew that because we had gotten rid of things and all that. But I asked him about the piece and what he thought of it, and he was very positive, as he always was, it seemed about Twila.

Speaker And he said but he thought it was fascinating how much it reminded him of dances at a gathering.

Speaker I was I I didn't know what you know, you don't know what to say.

Speaker And later, years later, when Twala was struggling with singing in the rain and called on Jerry to come see it, and Twyla, who always has remained somewhat uninformed about the history of theater and and what has preceded her and on many levels. Came back with the notes from Jerry and I said, well, while he's just structuring it the way he had West Side Story, I mean, we can do that, but.

Speaker We have no rumball, he was it was always I mean, that's what many people do. We all know what worked for us and maybe try to throw it out there again as a solution to problems. And but he was always you would start designing costumes.

Speaker Ultimately, he would bring out a shirt from something else he had and say this was perfect. Maybe we should do this. You know, the Four Seasons shirts are, I think, very close to the shirts. And Cowbird, you know, I mean, it's it's just becomes and you felt that it was fine, but ultimately, what are we doing here? So that's how I felt about it.

Speaker You talked a little bit about what you had learned from him. Tell me a little bit more about his his eye.

Speaker Well, his eye was as the thing was, he did have such regard for the form and movement and how and how a stage, a clean stage should look and how what the dynamics were. It would vary according to, I think, what he was what he was dealing with in the music and and what kind of atmosphere, if there were, in fact, atmosphere. It was it was kind of simplistic and when you thought about it. But he had real opinions. And there are things that we just now matter as a matter of form. You think about in terms of space, he very much like the low proscenium opening, but more of a shoe box than I personally like because he felt it focused your eye on the on the person. I have since continued to be very conscious of that, but I try to do it in different ways. You know, he was and sometimes he would be you know, I wish I knew how David Hayes had worked with them on on Watermill and you know, where it's so strong and so beautiful and and who provided what is I think there Jerry probably had very strong visual ideas. The few things I did often, we had, I think the last piece I actually designed was Picolo Balletto, which was. A remake, that is to say, the reuse of the same music that he had used for Dumbarton Oaks, and he turned to me at one point, he said, I can't change the steps from what they were in Dumbarton Oaks because this music is the same. I said, well, why did you use the same music? You know, you said what you wanted to do, this little Italianate piece and. He made it difficult for himself. I think he just he wanted something he was comfortable with, and yet then he would resist, then he would fight that because perhaps it was I think we all we struggle anyway when we're working.

Speaker I think he was felt you had to suffer.

Speaker I mean, that's just a romantic notion of the you know, it's the artist struggling to produce something. You know, he my few encounters and there were very few with Balanchine in the elevator one day during the Gershwin concerto, which was, you know, it's just a struggle to the finish. I see said, how are you doing? I said, oh, it's not going very well at all. I said, I just thought this was a playful piece. And he said he laughed and he said, Oh, Jerry doesn't play, you know? It's just it's just, you know, it could never be a toss off.

Speaker You know, it's that thing of where you want the audience to feel. We just throwing flowers at them that it could not.

Speaker You had to feel sweat in your face.

Speaker I think with Jerry, he wanted you to feel there was this effort that he was an artist, especially at this, you know, at the ballet, I think on in his on Broadway. Was he also you know, he was he was the Broadway guy. You know, that was a curse for him. He wasn't an artist in the same way that Mr. B was, you know, or other people. I think why I was thinking. Do you mean to say that in his own. Yes. Yes, I think and I think about himself. He was never trusting of himself or felt that he was on in the same league.

Speaker And quite honestly, you know, City Ballet was not the friendliest atmosphere towards towards Jerry at all. You always felt they would be kind of dismissive of the fact that you were designing a Robin's piece. They knew you were.

Speaker I always was paid a little more because there was sort of because they knew it would be designed endlessly. It's was the term for that. I can't remember when hazard pay.

Speaker But, yeah, it was it was ultimately sad, not only frustrating it for me in doing trying to do something special for him, but but just just the frustration you felt he was unhappy, you knew you were unhappy things. You know, it was just it was one thing to feel you were refining something, but in fact, you were just just changing to change.

Speaker And it was that was hard to understand that he loved doing research. And before Four Seasons, he did some of his own.

Speaker He did. He had beautiful I have copies of of many of those etchings. And and of course, the whole design of the scenery is like a 19th century theater and painted portholes and that kind of temple.

Speaker And, you know, when you talk to you about the ballet, did he involve you in any of that research? Did you tell you he.

Speaker Well, he had had a marvelous library, of course.

Speaker And there was one book which I later found and of.

Speaker 19TH century etchings, color and color, though, they weren't really etchings, prints of stage designs, and I mean, that's largely what I drew on. I have a copy of it framed in my house, actually, of the of the research. And it was quite beautiful. I mean, not that kind of Italian stage design was always very lush, whether it was post Bibiana or whatever. It's it's beautiful design to draw on and baroque in a way. And how it's because it's two dimensional and formal and neoclassical.

Speaker And of course, Verdi, he fell very much because it was Verdi.

Speaker It should be Italian.

Speaker And oh, you know, I've done, I think for four seasons, all sorts of people and no more. The last was with Chris Wheeldon.

Speaker And that was very you know, it's usually Vivaldi, you know.

Speaker Um, I understand he actually did some research and the Met.

Speaker Now, the research I was aware of was really just the collections from books and.

Speaker And not so much, but, you know, he had access to anything he wanted to in New York because he was a favorite son, of course, and.

Speaker Did he make sketches show, you know, he showed me the research, he showed me the research, which was very much like what they're wearing, these little neoclassical dresses, they're like, I can't remember the attack. There's a there's an early dance. Master who did all these drawings, I think would show you the different steps, and it was largely based on that, and they are if they do wear garlands and they do have so it was it's what we've done was a version of that. But whenever I allowed it to become a trifle more of a scanty and a little less Jerry Robbins, I got in trouble, you know, when I wanted lush flowers in their hair, I was I was insulting their beauty, you know. And when I was when I thought the hairstyles might be just a trace. More interesting than not, the usual buttons were the back of their heads.

Speaker I was reprimanded. It was all right. It was his loss. I mean, I know that I knew better, but it was it was fine. It was fun.

Speaker Was he with you in terms of what he wanted? I mean, you're talking now about hair and maybe accessories or can you talk about that a bit? Was he was very specific in detail.

Speaker Jerry wasn't so much specific, like many directors, their shoppers, as I say, you know, you have to bring many things to the table.

Speaker He would certainly he would shape the idea to a degree.

Speaker And then he would offer you the opportunity to move outside the box and present other ideas, he often would just wind up going back, but that's not unhealthy because you're just considering other options. It's just that it never settled down.

Speaker And it ultimately, when you were actually in in making mockups of costumes in particular, it would revert back to things he liked. And what was unfortunate in the case of the Four Seasons was it could have been had more wit to it. You know, the snowflakes could have been more charming and and and summer could have been much more voluptuous without being heavy or you know, or it's it's also that the American thing, where I think because of city ballet, where it had to also fit into that deconstructed what we now call 10 years ago called deconstructed. You know, you didn't quite duplicate the work the way the English and productions of A, B, t duplicate more. Exactly. A period look. You know, it's of course, the abstraction is healthy, but the abstraction also becomes dry. To me, it lacks the savor of really embracing another time, another world, another another imagination. He was very much wanted it to look like him. It was absolutely to be his kind of thing. And and all that ultimately could have been much more you could have been more expedient in how you came to those those solutions, but he took you on a circuitous route off often on the Gershwin concerto. He asked for terrible things, things that I was not capable of really doing, someone like Will Akim, whom he would have had no patience with. And I said to him, I said, you know, Willo can do art deco costumes that are architectural and a dancer can wear them. I said, I can't believe you will like that.

Speaker And and I said, I'm not comfortable doing unitards like that. So it became, you know, rather nothing except Peter is telling me how ugly it was repeatedly.

Speaker Tell me what he told you about sort of one of his New York about.

Speaker Yes, but that was the one which I thought really was should have been playful and smart and a little more period conscious. So you felt like a bit more Busby Berkeley that you had the girls and kind of little rompers of some sort in shorts and sexy. And he did not want that. He wanted these little ballet skirts and. And tights and, you know, I mean, it was just he wanted this this art deco feel to it, though, which the scenery has a touch of, but it was. He he just he just really made that one. He killed that one, I fell in the process so that it was it just didn't have the vitality that the music has.

Speaker Scratch my nose.

Speaker For him, you have. Um, suggested that he actually talked about the ballet in a sense. I mean, tell me what he would tell you.

Speaker Sherry didn't really like to talk, I think, Sherry. I've never actually read.

Speaker The biography's which are on my in my library, but.

Speaker I always felt, as you one does occasionally with people of a certain generation and background, and I think particularly dancers who move into power positions now with ceremonial with Twila, you know, the Barnard girl and others, they're they're educated often. You felt with Gerry that he was worried he was going to use the wrong word and steer you in the wrong direction. It was all strangulated conversations with Gerry. If I ask too many questions, it would mean that I was confused.

Speaker You know, it was the part of the You Can't Win factor with Gerry. And and he was very conscious of the fact that he probably just went to high school, I assume, and and that and was a dancer and and that he that he might be not as informed as he would really love to be in. I mean, he was you know, the insecurity list on the part of Jerry was, you know, volumes and it was shocking always. I mean, insecure and mean it was you know, it's a fabulous combination.

Speaker Yes.

Speaker He was not persay mean to me.

Speaker And I rarely witnessed him being abusive to dancers or anything. I mean, there are legendary tales. We did have a moment. The West, the famous West Side Story backing off the stage. You know that story into the orchestra pit.

Speaker When I was we were doing something at the State Theatre and Jerry stepped off the stage thinking there were the stairs into the house, I had jumped down and I caught him and I said, I bet you wish I'd been around a long time ago to do that for you. But he he just grunted a.

Speaker In the mid 80s, I think it was you he asked you to redesign in. Why did you want to read and what did he tell you?

Speaker It was interesting, he thought the interplay, of course, was designed the year I was born. This is very funny. And I and when I met Sharriff, who had designed it. I did not bring it up, she would let me in, I don't think she even knew that it had been changed.

Speaker I thought he wanted it cleaner and brighter and less covered up, and it was I think a matter of times have changed and there are more fabrics available and we can do things differently and freshen it up. I had, I think, at that point.

Speaker Assisted or supervised on the scenery for New York.

Speaker Opus Jazz, which I just think is such a wonderful, wonderful piece, which I had seen done at the Joffrey, and then when it started happening, I remember he asked me to if I would be involved in that. And I was thrilled. I mean, I love Ben Shawn. And and I'll tell you a story. I went he sent me to his house and he sat on the top floor. I have a studio in the studio. There is a huge closet. And in there, I think you might find the originals.

Speaker Well, it housed all these sketches from Robert Wilson, Tony Walton, Ben Shawn in a heap on the floor, the Ben-Shahar ones were torn horribly. I had to place them back together and mount them on card and things. And I thought, it's a lesson to all of us.

Speaker This is where we wind up on the floor and Jerry Robin's closet, the butt and working on that, I mean, I suppose he didn't want it, of course, interplay that really look like that. And it doesn't, although their handmaidens a bit. It was it was that informed when I how I approached. Of Interplaying redoing it, and he just really he was somewhat clear about that in terms of the colors he wanted, and he would really you would bring him color samples many and he would choose and then you would do more tests and he would you know, and he would talk about Granny Apple green and and bring you leaves. And he was always collecting color samples for you. And you knew certain things you like. It's like everybody, you know, it's certainly like what they like and don't like and and and what they're comfortable with. Interplay.

Speaker And when after he died, I did go back to City Ballet and do a little more cleaning up on Interplay and tried to make it fit better than he allowed it to fit. I mean, it's a marginal thing that is imperceptible except for a costume designer. But and I do those pieces, I mean, it's the old Jerry, it's when it was the young man and a kind of spontaneous response to a period of life and the kind of jazzy ness and the marriage of jazz and ballet and and young love and all that.

Speaker And it was it was lovely to be involved in and kind of recreating that time for him on stage on a bunch of new young people. You know, in that one, when we did it, it was Damian. And and that was when, you know, they were all these young, marvelous dancers right out of school at City Ballet. So that was rather thrilling.

Speaker You touched on people out of L.A., which is a place we have no perfectly willing to move past. Is there anything that, you know, you would like to say, I don't know, Jerry's Italian obsession or. Well, you know, the piccolo balletto.

Speaker I had forgotten about this. I remember there's a backdrop for it.

Speaker And I remember we came into the theater and one Monday, which is a dark day, and we would as often was the case, we would have a crew call and have students walk Lightworkers. And there was this boy on stage.

Speaker But I remember I came in and I said, well, Jerry, I said, we've put Gromit's and ties on all four sides of the drop now so we can hang it in any direction you'd like because we would do everything. You'd turn it backwards and we often hang things backwards.

Speaker So it was softer. I mean, it's that kind of you didn't want anyone else's hand to be that present. It's you know, I mean, NATO, remember, in fact, I was saying we're redoing, as I may have said, we're redoing a freshening up of the Four Seasons. And in talking to the scenic artists, I said, you know, when we do the cartouche that flies in at the end, I have Tupelo's sketches I want to bring in because Jerry had talked to me and it was about picolo balletto, about keeping the hand of that lightness in the drawing that Tiepolo has.

Speaker I sadly am no Sapelo.

Speaker So so I bet the scenic artist can transfer that technique in.

Speaker So I'm hoping to maybe make him happy from afar this time with the with the conclusion, the concluding image in Four Seasons.

Speaker So let's talk a little bit about sweet of dances. Tell me what he told you about his intentions for that vow.

Speaker Suite of dances was a phone call from Michelle. I'm working on something with the old man, and I wonder if you will come and and look at it. I said, no way. I sat and he said, oh, come on. You know, it was all that sort of. I said, oh, God. So we I went to wherever they were rehearsing. I don't remember.

Speaker And it was that classic situation of they did a rehearsal, Moesha brought in these red pants he liked Jerry loved the color. Jerry was very responsive to Michelle's requests on probably all levels.

Speaker But in this case, Moesha, really let me start with you. You know, as you know, it was his body and what he was comfortable in and the sort of easiness. And he was an Moesha who is so sophisticated and and and perceptive, wanted it to be something he liked, but to be a little nod to Jerry and what had proceeded visually in his in his vocabulary. So it was it was that situation and that I, in a funny way, quoted the first thing I ever put on show, too. So it was it was like a jersey like push and trousers that probably that you should just like to wear comfortable trousers that felt a bit like workout clothes or rehearsal clothes, but and very simple and vibrant. We've since, you know, done the piece quite a bit and created it, especially in Paris, where the dancers were marvelous doing it, but it was what was fun was to actually watch Jerry work with the cellists and and bring her on stage and have and create the the opening tableau.

Speaker Jerry didn't talk about it very much. To me, it was more about keeping Mischa happy and making him look good and never a problem and and going on from that. And I think Jennifer learned, of course. So it had also that beautiful sort of rich turquoise sky, as I remember backdrop. So it had a kind of vibrancy which was which was a little surprising, I thought, because Jerry is so, so pastel and diffused and and and lacking in that kind of punch, that it was kind of refreshing to see to see this look. But it was it was reasonably painless, again, because it was Baryshnikov was in the middle there to to really, you know, you made him happy and then you went on from there.

Speaker Did you ever have occasion to see any of Jerry's own artwork, his photography, his sketches as well? No. Uh, um. Tell me about if you did, I think you must have observed his relationship with Twyla.

Speaker I was.

Speaker I really don't think I ever saw them together, Jerry and Twyla. He did, I think he I think they really both cared for each other. I think it was genuine and of course, there was enormous. I mean, she had as much as Twala has regard for people, and she does. She had great regard for him. She was maddeningly analytical about it, of course. So it would often, you know, it could never be just without qualifications. And they were I felt it was foolish that they worked together. I wasn't involved in that. But, you know, because it ultimately was competitive and rather than one complementing the other, I felt it was a real, you know, challenging of tossing of the gauntlet.

Speaker But but they did love each other.

Speaker I mean, he was just fascinated by her instinct as much as he envied it. And and as always, I think he and I see as the envy Robert Wilson or he envied any artist of real consequence. It was always used as a scourge against his own back.

Speaker You know, that he would always say, oh, why can't I be like that? Why can't it you know, I produce something like that or be that kind of spontaneous or it was it was always it was never easy to be around that amount of anxiety.

Speaker Why can I never be as good as I was, which I think is that was the mantra that I cut got to be subjected to, that he just was constantly hard on himself about the fact that he could not surpass what he had done.

Speaker But he was his own choice to leave for. Yes, but.

Speaker Well, I mean, we only only kidded me about it once when I was telling him some early horror stories and he said, Babe, that's why you're there and I'm not.

Speaker And, you know, he wasn't interested. I think the collaboration to producers, writers, composers, it's a lot of people. I mean, the film I mean, his film experience was apparently not smooth.

Speaker Is there anything that, um, you would like to tell me that I haven't?

Speaker No, I mean, I don't know I can't think of anything that was pretty comprehensive, um.

Speaker He Jeremy was, though, especially if he thought I was going to blow or leave, which happened happened when we were, I think, preparing. I might have been picolo, balletto, picolo Bellette, I'll tell you a quick story I'd forgotten about, which is he brought out.

Speaker There's these rotten, unbelievably marvelous costumes of Eugene Berryman's from Dance Concertante, I believe. Which I actually have a print of a sketch in my bedroom.

Speaker And he said, you know, this is what we should do, maybe we can reuse these. I said, well, I think we can't get a body into this any longer. The people were different and the really old. And I looked at them and I and they're marvelous and complicated and beautiful and of course, look like you've seen Berryman's hands because of the way he painted so beautifully. And I bet it's that classic thing. He started there. He would never allow anything to be that kind of much a part of the picture. And and we did versions that became more and more diluted until there were just a ghost or something like that. I mean, he he was you had to be amused. And he would know, as I started to say, when you were growing really weary of the process and poor Barbara Matera, who would do mock ups forever. Would he would know how to charm us? He would charm us around to say laughing and saying, OK, we'll go back and do another version. I remember one of my first Jerry Robbins moments was before I worked with him and I was in the tears and there were a rack of costumes. Many colors in red satin and the same colors and red velvet. I said, oh, what are these for? And she said, Oh, they're for this piece of cherries. And I said, Oh. There are an awful lot of people, she said, oh, we'll decide which one we're going to use when we get there. I mean, it was it was it was, you know, it just didn't have to be quite like that. He wouldn't allow his experience or your experience to enter into facilitating the process.

Speaker It was. It was tough.

Speaker Do you suppose it was because he couldn't envision something?

Speaker How can that be? How can it be that he couldn't imagine what something would look like?

Speaker You know, I mean, I've worked with many people who have that problem, though, and you realize that people can't read a sketch and they really some people can't even read a model. I was saying recently about someone I worked with. I said it's one thing to not read a sketch. It's one thing to not be able to tell from the model. He can't tell full scale in front of him. I said it's you know, it is it's the plight of the designer.

Speaker I'm afraid to deal with the the people we have to answer to are often the most handicapped.

Speaker But in Jerry's case, what was it about you say?

Speaker I think it was about it wasn't good enough. It's not whether he didn't ask for the right thing or you didn't give it to him. It was just this this this constant dissatisfaction. He wasn't good enough. You certainly weren't good enough. The dancers probably in many instances weren't good enough. It was all we were all making it impossible for his theoretical vision to be realized on as best it could be.

Speaker You know what's so interesting, you said before that story about biology, where he said. I didn't play it because I know what you mean by anybody who looked at his family wouldn't understand that.

Speaker Well, there there is a kind of playfulness about Jerry's work. I don't particularly like it when he's because I find it's rather insipid and how it's how it plays itself out a lot.

Speaker The item section of the Four Seasons, I find it's just like outtakes from Peter Pan, you know, I mean, it's a good WALGA wigwam. It's just absurd. And and I remember when it was being set, the dancers were very, you know, put off by it and and and insulting to him, not directly, but insulting in their attitude.

Speaker I mean, he did he was it was not the atmosphere in which, whether he was responsible, which he probably was to a degree or not, the atmosphere that he that he created in which he then had to work was not very pleasant. I mean, people create anxiety around themselves all the time, directors, and then people have to rally and perform and we know that it's certainly part of the business.

Speaker But he in fairness to everyone else, he made it just as hard on himself as he did everybody else.

Speaker You know, it's it's it was fascinating. It wasn't like he was just yelling and went home and thought that everything was great that he had done. He was just as hard on himself. That's how I feel that I missed the good period where he may have been, in fact, even angrier and and more antagonistic in many ways, but, you know, he was, of course, a younger artist and a younger man.

Speaker And he was there was still more flowing in him than there was by the time I came around.

Santo Loquasto
Interview Date:
American Archive of Public Broadcasting GUID:
cpb-aacip-504-gh9b56ds7b, cpb-aacip-504-3x83j39k22
"Santo Loquasto, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). 15 Jun. 2007,
(2007, June 15). Santo Loquasto, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About. [Video]. American Masters Digital Archive (WNET).
"Santo Loquasto, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About." American Masters Digital Archive (WNET). June 15, 2007. Accessed January 27, 2022


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