Alejandra Álvarez, Senior Editor, Multi-Arts
I don't need to attempt to add to the wonder that I had the privilege of witnessing at Palais Garnier this past October the 30th. The tribute to Jerome Robbins, which I had the honor of attending, was an absolutely mesmerizing and unforgettable experience.
Jerome Robbins (1918), born into a Jewish family that had migrated from Russia to New York, can only be described as an integral artist. In 1936, he fully dedicated himself to the world of dance, launching his career with performances at Camp Tamiment and on Broadway. Robbins gained fame for his work, encompassing both comedic and controversial dances.
Source: Opéra National de Paris
significant milestones in his career. In 1957, he created the iconic "West Side Story" in collaboration with Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. Following the success of "West Side Story," Robbins continued to excel in both theater and film. He directed and choreographed hit Broadway shows such as "Gypsy" and "Funny Girl" and earned Tony Awards for "Fiddler on the Roof." Later in the 1970s, Robbins shifted his focus to classical dance, notably with the New York City Ballet. His
Source: Opéra National de Paris
influence extended to television, culminating in "Jerome Robbins' Broadway" in 1989. Even in his later years, despite health challenges, Robbins' unwavering passion for his craft continued to inspire and shape the world of dance and theater.
What truly stayed with me after the show was the incredible mental images that Jerome Robbins had once envisioned. Art is meant to tell stories, but Jerome's mise en scène not only tells a story; it does so with such delicacy and precision that it feels personal to each of the spectators. The first act, "EN SOL," named after Ravel's "Concerto en Sol for piano and Orchestra," paints a vivid mosaic of auditory and visual hues.
Robbins' genius transports the audience to a sunny day at the beach, drawing inspiration from Ravel's own coastal origins, near the sophisticated coast of Biarritz. Robbins clearly understood the importance of the sea. The vastness of the sea serves as a profound teacher for those with sensitive souls. At sea, Ravel and Robbins blend their artistic expressions, giving birth to this three-movement story of joy, fun, and incredible momentum, all executed flawlessly by the immensely talented dancers. Witnessing swimsuits on an opera house stage was a delightful surprise. The costume design and scenography work smoothly to transport the audience to a joyous moment under the sun and before the infinite blue.
The second act, "IN THE NIGHT," gently caresses the viewer's soul, delving into the most complex yet elevating feeling known to the human race: love. Naturally, when one contemplates a composer who can really capture the notes that come closest to describing and encapsulating the true nature of love, it must be Chopin.
Source: La Terrasse
On a personal note, I had always housed a wish to give a visual identity to the powerful sensations that only Chopin can evoke. Jerome Robbins' creativity granted me a delightful gift through this homage to life, love, and Chopin himself.In this act, three couples gracefully dance to Chopin's Nocturnes (Op. 27, No. 1; Op. 55, No. 1 and 2; and Op. 9, No. 2). The very aesthetics of this performance are so pleasing that I hesitate to reveal too many details, for everyone should experience the same surprise that I did when I first witnessed it, not knowing how deeply it would touch my heart.
I've experienced romantic love on multiple occasions, yet to witness another human, who lived long before my time, capturing its essence so flawlessly, enabling me to wholly comprehend its intention, is nothing but purely magical. The performances are executed in duets. Three pairs openly present their love stories, taking the audience on a journey through all the beauty and pain that naturally accompany love. Chopin's notes linger in the air even after the final dance ends, and I'm certain that a piece of everyone's soul floated alongside mine in that room at the moment of the grand applause.
Finally, the third and most startling act commences: "THE CONCERT." Once again choreographed to the beautiful sounds of Chopin, it unfolds as a delightful series of events that are profoundly relatable. Jerome Robbins himself expressed that one of the greatest pleasures during a concert is allowing one's mind to wander and conjure original scenarios to the rhythm of another artist. Robbins introduces a
Source: Crescendo Magazine
diverse cast of characters, each with their unique personalities. We witness how they allow their stories to intersect, creating both chaos and harmony. This entire act is set to Chopin's Preludes (Op. 28, Numbers 4, 7, 16, and 18), his Polonaise (Op. 40), his Berceuse (Op. 57), his Valse en Mi Mineur (Op. posthume), his Mazurka (KK IIa/2), and his Ballade Number 3 (Op. 47).
What stood out the most for me was witnessing the pianist, who flawlessly interpreted these complex compositions, engaging in a delightfully fun manner with the dancers and the audience. I found myself laughing throughout the entire act. This was a first for me within the context of a ballet show – it was fun, it was deep, and it was profoundly human.
"I have nothing to add," is how I began this article, and it is also how I wish to conclude it. I can only express gratitude for the privilege of sharing this wondrous world, enriched by the genius of Jerome Robbins' creations, which continue to inspire and touch the hearts of many, and will undoubtedly continue to do so.