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Jerome Robbins and Agnes de Mille

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Theatre
Wordcount: 5464 words Published: 5th May 2017

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An analysis of the life and works of the choreographers Jerome Robbins and Agnes de Mille and therole of dance in musical theatre

Agnes de Mille and Jerome Robbins worked in musical theatre in what is widely regarded to be the industry’s Golden Era. Many would say that it was their innovative approach to choreography in musical theatre that brought an energy and a dynamism to the musical, accounting for its surge in popularity. It is certainly true that they did much to elevate the role of dance in musical theatre, which was previously largely merely as an accessory to the main dramatic event; pretty women with bare flesh parading around the stage. Robbins and De Mille regarded dance as a serious art form and strove to portray it as such on the stage.

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Musical theatre, as we know it today, did not come into being until the twentieth century, but song and dance have been a part of theatre for thousands ofyears. From as early as the 5th century BC the Ancient Greeks employed music and dance in many of their comedies and tragedies to entertain the public. The Romans carried on this tradition from the 3rdcentury BC, with many plays by Plautus including song and dance. They invented the first tap shoes by attaching metal plates to their shoes so that the entire audience, who would sit in a colossal open-air theatre, could hear the dancesteps (1). In the Middle Ages travelling minstrels and troupes of actors, dancers and singers performed popular songs and slapstick comedy. The religious dramas of the 12th and 13th centuries also included liturgical songs, although no dancing. In the French court of the Renaissance Louis XIV insisted that song and dance be incorporated into his entertainments.

In America, some of the first dramatic roles to be performed by dancers were in melodrama, which is unsurprising considering the highly stylised movement of melodramatic actors lends itself more to dance than to anything else. Mlle Celeste, who was later to become one of the most famous dancers of the nineteenth century, was first billed in America as the celebrated melodramatic actress (2). Across the nineteenth century, circuses, showboats and pantomimes all included dance in some form. Stars such as Mlle Celeste and Fanny Essler helped create a popular demand for dance and companies began to include more elaborate dances in their evening’s bill. Melodrama and pantomimes would often incorporate complex ballets into their entertainments. In England the most popular form of entertainment for the working- and middle-classes was the music hall, which staged vaudeville entertainment in the way of singers, dancers and speciality acts. Vaudeville was also extremely popular in America in the nineteenth century, and by the 1890s dance acts were ever more in demand. Dances were still, however, largely performed in between the acts of the main production or before the end-piece to fill the gaps. The role of dance in the theatre at that time was limited mainly to entr’actes. They existed purely to appease the audience, to show piece a star, or to titillate predominantly male audiences with allowing spectacle of female limbs in tights(3). Jack Cole referred to the dances and the dancers in theatre at this timeas wallpaper (4).

It wasn’t really until the 1930s that dance began to be an important part of the musical. George Balanchine, who trained at the Russian Imperial Ballet School before working with Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, regarded dance as a legitimate and important component in musical theatre. He believed dance to be the greatest expressive medium and first introduced ballet onto the popular musical stage with Ziegfeld Follies. Dancers in the theatre began to be taken seriously, rather than regarded merely as pretty girls baring a lot of leg; Into a choreographic world that was a mélange of decorative movement, legs and taps,Balanchine opened the door and ballet leapt on to the popular musical stage,directed by a supreme artist (5). Whereas previously only routines had been performed on the theatrical stage, Balanchine choreographed dances.He refused for his dances to be merely bite-size slices of entertainment sandwiched between the main attraction and insisted that they be part of the plot, integrated seamlessly into the action. For the first time in a musical the dances in Balanchine’s On Your Toes actually helped to advance the plot. When, in 1982, On Your Toes returned to Broadway, Carol Lawson of the New York Times wrote;

On YourToes was a turning point in the history of musical comedy, for Mr.Balanchine’s dances were more than mere interludes. Instead they served as essential aspects of the plot, and were thoroughly integrated parts of the production.(6)

Balanchine paved the way for AgnesDe Mille and Jerome Robbins to totally change the dynamics of dance in musical theatre, and thereby in musicals has a whole. De Mille introduced the concept of using dance as a vehicle for story-telling and Robbins transformed the role of choreographer in a musical to being director of the entire show, making dance the driving force.

Agnes De Mille

Asa child, although she came from a theatrical family, De Mille was not permitted formal dance training, but would improvise pieces to perform to guests and nightly improvised to the accompaniment of her mother on the Orchestrelle (7).She would practice her melodramatic acting skills every night before performing flexibility exercises to limber up her body in readiness for the stage. When in Hollywood with her family her true dancer’s instinct became evident as she fell in love with the wide open spaces of the country surrounding the town;this would be a recurring theme in her later choreography. In her autobiography, Dance to the Piper, she exclaimed;

The descendinggrassy slopes filled me with a passion to run, to roll in delirium, to wreck

mybody on the earth. Space means this to a dancer – or to a child! The descentthrough

theair, the finding of earth-footage, the embracing and struggle with thefundamental

ground.These are to a dancer what strong scents are to an animal. (8)

Theday De Mille first watched Anna Pavlova perform only increased her desire tobecome a dancer. She was enthralled, awed, and dumbstruck, and describes thatmoment with passion and gusto (9). It was this that encouraged de Mille toorganise her first dance show with a group of other girls but she was still notallowed dance lessons and became frustrated with the limited dancing she coulddo. It wasn’t until her sister was advised by an orthopaedist to start balletdancing that she too was permitted to attend the Theodore Kosloff School ofImperial Russian Ballet. Whilst there she learnt technique and poise andtrained her body into that of a dancer’s. She worked feverishly hard, perhapseven more so because her parents would not allow her to have lessons more thantwice a week, leaving her lagging behind the rest of the class. She resortedto practicing in her mother’s bathroom, where she had installed a barre for her.

Bythe time De Mille had finished high school however, she had grown to loath therigours of daily practice and decided to abandon her classes and her solitarypractices and go to college. During her time at UCLA De Mille occasionallystaged dances for student rallies and towards the end of her college life shestarted exercising with the mind to getting back up on her points. She decidedto dance professionally after meeting Douglass Montgomery, who convinced herthat she could. Things were never going to be easy for her though. She movedto New York at a time when dancers [were] hired on the sheen of the stockingand the wink of their agent, and when the few dance companies that existed onBroadway were small and dedicated to the personal exploitation of some star(10). I have mentioned earlier the limited opportunities a dancer had in thistime, where no ‘pure’ ballet was being performed in either music shows ormoving picture shows and there was no such word as ‘choreography’. Whenrehearsing for a concert of her own choreography Montgomery taught De Mille howto act through her dancing; he taught me that every gesture must have someexplicit meaning (11). She decided to perform character studies whereby thedancing revealed personality and was natural in the course of the story. Rightfrom the start she wanted to employ dance as more than light entertainment, asa vital story-telling vehicle. These first attempts, being only charactersketches, were quite light by nature, and the style was folk rather thanballet, but it was different to what anybody else had done on the stage before.When she performed some of these at a concert she was received well but whenshe auditioned for Charles Cochran and Noel Coward they told her that she wasmore suited to the concert hall, and that she would never make it in thetheatre.

Aftertouring with Adolph Bolm, she was commissioned as a dancer-choreographer on ChristopherMorley’s revival of The Black Crook but the drunken, noisy audience madeher hand her notice in. It was in the thirties that the dance scene in NewYork began to stir. Every Sunday a couple of dance concerts were given, withsoloists experimenting with every dance form imaginable. De Mille remembers,we were out remodel our entire craft there were no rules we struck sparksfrom one another (12). For five years De Mille taught herself to choreograph,but she was trying to learn to compose dances, not pantomimes, nor dramaticstories, nor character studies, but planned sequences of sustained movementwhich would be original and compelling (13). She viewed dance as a seriousart form and wanted to choreograph dances that would present it as such, butwith barely any formal training behind her she found this very difficult.After disastrously choreographing Flying Colours De Mille and her mothermoved to London where, as in New York, she choreographed and danced in her ownrecitals to critical acclaim but with no financial gain. At one recital though,Marie Rambert and Arnold Haskell were amongst the audience and were impressedenough to ask her to stay in London to continue her recitals and be taught atThe Ballet Club.

Itwas at The Ballet Club that De Mille met Anthony Tudor and Fredrick Ashton,both of whom would go on to become important choreographers and who, with her,would revolutionise the dance world. In 1933 she choreographed the dances forCharles B. Cochran’s Nymph Errant in London but during the thirties DeMille returned to America several times, dancing in her uncle’s production of Cleopatrain 1934 and choreographing Irving Thalburg’s film-version of Romeo andJuliet. On the latter project she had to endure her dances being cut topieces as the camera cut out most of the group work and showed only snippets ofthe rest. The custom at the time was not to show a whole dance but to providelight entertainment with cuttings of dances.

OnHooray for What De Mille came up against the type of men that insisteddancers were hired for their sex appeal and that dances were performed to sellsex. These were the sort of men that were keeping dance from becoming aserious, important art form and that issued it with only a decorative functionin theatre and films. The management wanted the girls exposed as much aspossible, face front always, bosom bared, legs just visible to the waist, DeMille recalls (14). As she refused to conform exactly, wanting her owncreative input, she was fired with one word, before her choreography was rippedto shreds. Without the security of Equity many of the dancers and actors werefired without warning as the Business Manager exacted his vision of abosoms-and-legs chorus-line extravaganza. At this time on Broadway dances, attheir best, were slick and well-formed, but with no great moments of dramaticrevelation (15). When De Mille returned to Broadway some years later she wasto dramatically change this notion.

In1940 Ballet Theatre was formed and De Mille was invited to become one of thechoreographers, on the understanding that she was not to dance herself. It wasa highly creative time for De Mille and she was able to work with some of thefinest dancers and choreographers of the time. It was at Ballet Theatre thatDe Mille created her first ballet, Black Ritual, a controversial piecewith black dancers; the first time this had ever been attempted by a seriousballet company. Having had only brief and frenzied flurries with commercialtroupes of mixed prostitutes and chorus dancers she had not had the experienceof setting a schedule of choreographing and rehearsing and was extremelynervous. Her dancers did not help matters by being consistently late and byarriving unprepared. The ballet was not received well but shortly after shewas hired by a successful booking manager for a national tour. De Mille andher dancers prepared for the tour through blood, sweat and tears but it was atotal success, and De Mille discovered something vital: although the managersmay not, the public liked and appreciated her work.

Notlong after returning to New York, De Mille was asked by Ballet Theatre tocreate Three Virgins and a Devil, which was a huge hit and débuted theyoung Jerome Robbins. In 1942 she was commissioned to create a ballet for theBallet Russe de Monte Carlo. She extended a piece she had partly choreographedyears earlier, and Rodeo was the result. The ballet formed the basisfor a uniquely American dance style, using folk themes, tap dance andenergetic, fast-paced movements, capturing the essence of a cowboy’s manner.Teaching male dancers who were used to the precision and elegance of balletproved to be difficult so De Mille resorted to acting lessons to help herdancers find their characters. She wanted them to be cowboys; shewanted them to communicate dramatic meaning. Come opening night they wereprepared and the audience adored them. De Mille had created an entirely newand exciting dance style; it was the first of its kind, and the moment wasquick with birth (16). De Mille successfully turned ballet into musicalcomedy, and gave the form real energy and gusto, with movements never beforeseen in this very precise of dance forms.

Wehad breached the bulwarks De Mille exclaims in Dance to the Piper (17).She, with a few choreographers before her, had created a new tradition, onewith a different root impulse to traditional ballet. She asserts that tocreate a style that truly differs from ballet one must base that style onanother technique. De Mille integrated folk dances into her work, withoutlowering the performances to comedy caricatures. Her work, like that of fellowchoreographer Anthony Tudor, conveyed theatrical meaning through dance steps;the line between actor and dancer was blurred. Rather than dancers usingtraditional technique and performing well-known steps, where the human bodiesare used merely as units of design, grouped, lumped, and directed intopredetermined masses, De Mille strove for originality and dramaticcommunication in her choreography. She writes of Tudor’s work;

Tudordeveloped the story-telling quality of his choreography to such a degree thateach gesture, formed out of the emotional components of the moment, is almostas explicit as though the dancers spoke. The new choreography does not arrangeold steps into new patterns; the emotion evolves steps, gestures, and rhythms. (18)

Reading De Mille’sexplanation of her method for creating dance in Dance to the Piper, oneis reminded of a director beginning to stage a play. She spends much time oncharacterisation; finding the right gestures and stance for each character actsas a stimulus for the choreographic process (19). De Mille did not createimpersonal dancers but characters acting out, through dance, a story.

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Fromthe success of Rodeo, as well as for its all-American style and theme,De Mille was asked by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein to choreographdances for their new production, Oklahoma! De Mille knew the projectwas going to be difficult as, unlike ballet where the choreographer is themaster and ruler of the show, many elements other than dance contribute to formmusical theatre. The performers must take direction from the director, thecomposer, the author of the book, and the producer. The dance director gotlittle say in the arrangement. Singing and acting were the main components inmusical theatre at the time; dance was merely for decoration. When casting thedancers, De Mille insisted on talent and personality, Rodgers wanted faces,although his idea of a face had frequently to do with the character in it,but Mamoulian, the director, wanted slim legs above all (20). It was assumedthat the public, also, were far more interested in the singing and the dramathan the dancing. The numbers of dances were therefore limited. De Milleinsisted, however, that every dancer was hired for just one reason – that heor she was the best available performer for the role (21). She did not cavein to the whim of the director; she wanted her dancers to be seriousprofessionals, and Rodgers agreed. Once, during rehearsals, a note was playedout of tune and one of the chorus’ faces winced with pain, but it was notannoyance or amusement, it was agonised concern. When Rodgers saw herexpression – one he had never seen cross a chorus girl’s face – he realisedthat responsible artists had entered the ranks (22). The chorus dancers wereno longer pretty faces, good legs but nothing between the ears; everyperformer, including the dancers, knew their craft. Another difficulty DeMille would have was that the dances would have to be created from the impetusof the book, they would have to build the author’s line and develop his action(23), rather than being created from scratch from characters developed by her.De Mille was also faced with the problem of swiftly travelling from dialogue,to song, to dance, and back to dialogue again without it looking farcical. Asthe choreographer she was going to have to learn surgery, to graft and splice(23).

DeMille achieved all this and more. She succeeded in elevating her role aschoreographer to that of equal importance with the playwright, the composer andthe lyricist, and she did what no choreographer had successfully done before -she integrated the ballets into the story. Her dancers were not merelydecoration but characters, and she worked with them to achieve depth ofcharacter, motivation and emotion. Dancers could no longer project theirpersonal response to a piece of music. They needed to move as the charactersthey were portraying. Their reactions, their facial expressions, all needed tofurther the audience’s understanding of their character. This requiredin-depth script readings and analysis of character motivations, just as adirector would insist on for his or her actors. De Mille realised that this canreally help the dancer. Whereas in ballet the dancer has to rely on what theyfeel to give the dance energy and dynamism, they now had the singing and actingto give them background and motivation to help give their dancing, as thesecharacters, expressive movement (24). If the role of dance in Oklahoma!was to communicate dramatic meaning to the audience, and to further the plot,the dancer had to become the character, and know it inside-out.

AsDe Mille herself notes, it was Anthony Tudor who first shocked audiences intoviewing a ballet dancer as an individual capable of dramatic communicationthrough her body, by clothing them in long Edwardian dresses (25). No longerwas the ballet dancer the stylised, typical image that made it acceptable forwomen to bare their legs and arms and wrap their limbs around a man. She wasnow familiar; like their mothers and aunties. They could now communicate humantruths and take part in the telling of a story. Dressed as the characters of aSouth-western town, rather than tights and a tutu, the audience was able to seethe dancers as humans with a story to tell.

Thecrowning glory of De Mille’s choreography on Oklahoma! was without doubtthe dream-ballet which occurs at the end of Act 1. With this De Milleexperimented with something entirely new in musical theatre, and for many yearsto come barely a musical was made without it containing a dream ballet. Inthis extended ballet Laurie acts out her quandary through dance; a highlyimaginative method of moving the story forward. Dance was inextricably boundto the plot of the musical. Whereas in previous musicals dance was merely aside entertainment and could be cut without the story losing any of itsmeaning, one could not take the dream ballet out of Oklahoma! withoutruining the plot. By using dance the thoughts and feelings in the mind and theheart of Laurie could be conveyed and explored far more effectively thanthrough straight dialogue. The dances were intended to strengthen theaudience’s understanding of the characters and further the plot, as well ascomplement the lyrics and the dialogue, and it worked. Now, as well as singingand acting, dancing added to the dramatic impact of the musical on theaudience.

AsKislan notes, dance also adds to the important theme of open space in Oklahoma.It is the guiding metaphor for the promise of the American Dream and thelimitless opportunities for the ‘brand new state’ the lovers are destined tolive in (26). The audience is always aware of the physical space on stage asthe dancers never seem crowded, no matter how many occupy the space. In thedream ballet Curly lifts Laurie up in the air, reaching for the sky, and theballetic style danced in constantly opens the body up, extending arms and legsto give the impression of limitless space. In Dance to the Piper DeMille writes of the sense of space ballet dancers work with; Every joint andsinew is pulled long, the arms are wide and free the stretching up and out,the liberating jump, the racing over and away from the earth (27). Thefeeling of space conveyed on stage through dance complements the songs, withlyrics such as plenty of room to swing a rope/plenty of heart and plenty ofhope (28).

Atlast dance as more than an accessory, but as a serious art form, had arrivedonto the popular stage, and the audience were roaring. They were howling.People hadn’t seen girls and boys dance like this in so long. Of course, theyhad been dancing like this, but not just where this audience could see them(29). Perhaps the most important accomplishment for dance in Oklahoma!was that De Mille was a choreographer on the show, not a dance director. Thedifference being that dance directors worked for audience approval;choreographers work for audience enlightenment (30). Her dances were integralto the story – they added and enlightened rather than decorated. This was anew role for dance in musical theatre.

DeMille went on to choreograph the dances for many more Broadway musicals in the1940s and 1950s, including One Touch of Venus in 1943, Carousel in 1945, Brigadoon in1947, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1949, and Paint Your Wagon in1951. Tally-Ho(1944) and FallRiver Legend (1948) provided her with the opportunity to further herrevolutionary style. She continued to cast dancers that were skilled at projectingcharacter as well as performing the correct steps. Kislan records that dancersthat worked with De Mille have testified to her fantastic ability to sense eventhe smallest dramatic quality in their dancing, and, together, manage to set itfree and integrate it into the choreography so that the dance is alwaysexpressive of the drama (31).

De Mille was still responsible to the director, the lyricist andthe author of the book though. Her choreography had to fit the other elementsof the musical, and dance was often of secondary importance to those elements.Choreographers such as Jerome Robbins were to change the role of thechoreographer, and thus the role of dance in musical theatre, forever. Banishedwas the mindless aesthetics that enslaved dance to the colossal, opulent, andlavish needs of the producer, the star, or the specialty act (32). Dance wasto be given the highest status of the production. The choreographer was torule the show. Indeed, the choreographer would no longer be merely the dancecreator, but the director-choreographer; the dance-director follows, thechoreographer adapts, but the director-choreographer leads (32). JeromeRobbins was a pioneer of this change in status for the role of dance in musicaltheatre.

Jerome Robbins

Robbinswas born into a devoutly Jewish family in 1918, but resented being Jewish, withits conservatism and old ways. His large family, however, provided him withmany theatrical contacts and influences. His uncle, Jack Silverman, startedout as a ballroom dancer with the two men he was living with, Bing Crosby andGeorge Raft. Edward G. Robinson was also related, and another of Robbins’uncles, Daniel Davenport, owned a chain of vaudeville and burlesque theatres.Davenport’s father and his brother performed on the vaudeville circuit underthe name of the Davenport Brothers, staging acrobatic acts. It is to this partof the family that Robbins owes his zest for vaudeville-comedy.

Robbins’parents ensured that both their children were educated in the arts, and this iswhere Jerome shone. He saw it as an escape route, a way by which he could haveaccess to the possibilities which lay beyond his community; When I was a childart seemed like a tunnel to me. At the end of that tunnel, I could see lightwhere the world opened up, waiting for me (33). Both he and his sister,Sonia, were strongly encouraged by their mother to aspire to the stage. Soniatook dance lessons and Jerome music lessons, and by the time he was three and ahalf he was composing pieces and giving recitals on the piano. Indeed, heexcelled in anything creative that he tried, but admitted that this wasbecause, the only world that was really exciting for me was the world in whichI could make believe that things were not the way they were (33). The worldof musical theatre was therefore the perfect world for him, later, to live in.

Robbinshad to keep his love of dance a secret from his parents, especially his father,and his school friends, who were all into sports. As his sister danced her wayinto the spotlight Jerome was left practicing in private, often with the helpof Sonia. At the Weehawken schools he attended Robbins performed in manyschool plays, but it was at his summer camps that he fell in love with Gilbertand Sullivan musicals, and played the comic leads in HMS Pinafore, TheMikado, and Pirates of Penzance. Jerome’s knack for comedy was madeevident through his performances in these roles. A fellow camper latercommented, Jerry had a tremendous sense of humour in everything he did (34).He still kept his dancing a secret though. At one parent’s day at the camphowever, Robbins performed a dance on the table-tennis table and, as anothercamper remembers, had the adults in tears. Furthermore, This was a bigaudience and he was completely uninhibited (34).

Robbinseventually took dance lessons with Sonia’s dance teacher in modern dance, theform that was the emerging trend in the Depression years of the 1930s, whenpeople wanted a dance form that could more readily express the social realismsof the time than could ballet. Jerome witnessed many pioneering greats of thedance stage, such as Martha Graham, Charles Weidman, and Doris Humphrey, but in1932 he was to meet the man he would later call his ‘guru’, Gluck Sandor (35).Sandor directed, choreographed and danced in many of the productions staged atthe Dance Centre, at which Sonia danced. He worked in vaudeville and onBroadway in the 1920s and was a tremendously expressive dancer, manipulatingevery gesture for dramatic effect, which was to a have profound influence onRobbins’ future work. As Robbins himself has cited, We dancers were taught toperform with the concentration of an actor (36). Anzia Kubicek, a dancer,remembers that Sandor, preferred to do things with a story line hisimagination would just go a mile a minute, and he worked with the bodies he hadto work with, which were sometimes very limited (37). Robbins would work withboth principles in his choreography, starting with a story from which hisdancers could develop their characters, and therefore their movements.

Aftergraduating from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1935 Robbins entered New YorkUniversity to study Chemistry, but in his second year his father’s corsetbusiness was in danger of going bankrupt and he could no longer fullyfinancially support Jerome’s education. Jerome was by this point desperate todrop out and follow his dream of becoming a professional dancer and, throughhis sister, he managed to successfully audition for an apprenticeship withSandor’s company. With the help of Sandor, Jerome convinced his parents tolet him try to make it as dancer, and he left the university. Sandor persuadedan unconvinced Robbins to concentrate on ballet rather than modern dance but itwasn’t until he saw Alexandra Danilova perform with the Ballet Russes that Robbinsagreed that ballet held many opportunities for him. Jerome progressed quicklyand Sandor recognised him as a natural dancer, recalling years later;

Oncehe saw something, he could do it backward. Before I would do a thing he had it.He could anticipate what was to come. He was sensitive and he was musical. (38)

In1937 Robbins secured his first part in The Brothers Ashkenazi, whichintensified his passion for the theatre. Throughout its run he would practiceon the barre, much to the bewilderment of the Yiddish cast of the play. Hisfellow performers recall him constantly dancing (39). After two years trainingat the Dance Centre, and having procured roles in various plays, Robbins leftthe company in search of more commercial work. He found work in the chorus ofa number of musicals which, in the thirties, were largely comic. AlthoughRobbins went on to choreograph and dance in such musicals, he also wanted totake the medium further, and use musical theatre as a vehicle for explorationinto the human psyche. He would later say, Musicals tend to be facetious. Noone has ever used them as a medium to depict deep personal struggle, and Ithink this can be done (40). He would go on to do just that.

Aswell as his brief encounters with Broadway, in the summer of 1937 Robbins startedworking as part of the entertainment staff at Camp Tamiment, a summer job hewould have for five years. The resort played host to many up-and-comingtalents, such as Danny Kaye, Imogene Coca, and Carol Channing. It was avirtual breeding ground for musicians, comedians, singers and dancers. Robbinschoreographed and danced in many of the performances held in the social hall.It was a very creative atmosphere, with new productions performed every week.Max Lieberman, director of the entertainment program at Tamiment, strove forBroadway-quality pieces, and with only a week to create and rehearse each one,ideas had to flow. Robbins’ work was of two extremes; burlesque sketches onthe one hand and socially serious dramatic dances such as Strange Fruit andDeath of a Loyalist on the other. Some of his pieces were performed atthe 92nd Street YMHA, under the auspices of the Theatre ArtsCommittee, as well as in the Straw Hat Revue, which Tamiment opened onBroadway in 1939. The revue was an amalgamation of many of the sketchesperformed at that summer’s camp but, due to the sensitive atmosphere followingthe outbreak of war in Europe, they were only allowed to include the comedysketches. Robbins suffered a huge blow to his ego when Jerome Andrews, who hadbeen brought in by the backers to supervise the dances, was given sole crediton the billing for the choreography. It did however give him a determinationto be wholly in charge of


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