Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library. “Jerome Robbins wearing a birthday hat at his 71st birthday party” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1989.
Statement: My project examines Jerome Robbins’ use of play and humor on the ballet and musical theatre stage, and their distinct effects in each venue. Robbins has a unique talent for developing story and character through the use of human movement. Recognizable movement infuses a sense of populism and accessibility to his works of ballet, repudiating expectations of what should be on a ballet stage. His use of play, comedy, and defined facial expressions is expected in musical theatre, but adds an enthralling excitement to ballet. While his developed characters can toe the line of becoming tropes, they provide discernible themes and assist in plot advancement. It is important to view Robbins’ character and plot work with a critical eye, considering the intricate effects of his choreographic decisions on different audiences. With the help of the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections and the ability to analyze fleeting moments of choreography and performance, I was able to identify the effects of Jerome Robbins’ use of human movement and humor in his works.