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Copy of Westside story by Jerome Robbins

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Laura Polson

on 21 January 2013

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Transcript of Copy of Westside story by Jerome Robbins

Analysis of West side story The choreographic style embraces the themes in the musical - athletic masculine movement helps to emphasize the rivalry between the jets (Americans) and the sharks (Puerto Rican).

The complex dance action conveys violence even though it is not explicitly shown - contact, theatrical fighting

The use of physical theatre is evident contact work in the fight sections opening and the rumble.
The use of unison is a key feature and helps to further the gang culture idea power in numbers and all performing the same movement - Jet Song and in the Dance at the gym.
Motifs that are developed throughout the dance - Jets (clicks), Sharks (whistle) and kicks.

The racial differences of the two gangs is clearly shown in the movement created - latin american (Flamenco Influence) seen in Mambo and in America

The style builds on the roots of musical theatre jazz established by Agnes de Mille in works such as Oklahoma.
The use of jazz dance movement - layouts, isolated body action, use of rhythm, high extensions in the legs.

Dynamic fully stretched action - arm gestures.
The style was described by Kathy Adams(2011) as edgy jazz choreography. West side story - the history

1955 - Meets with Arthur Laurents and produces the idea of two rival teenage gangs as warring factions

1955 - A then little known lyricist Stephen Sondheim sang the team songs and he was seen as being ideal for project

1957 Rehearsals begin in New York on July 8th.Washington DC first performance on August 20th and WSS opens in New York on September 26th at the Winter Gardens

1957 Original Broadway cast recording is made - 732 performances in total

1958 Robbins wins Tony award for best choreographer and scenic designer Oliver Smith is awarded a Tony

1961 - Film is directed by Robbins and Robert Wise stars Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer, Russ Tamblyn, Rita Moreno and George Chakiris.

WSS is based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet(R and J) - Shakespeare however based his play of 1594 on other material particularly a poem by Arthur Brooke The Tragical Historye of Romeus and Juliet(1562) - the theme of two lovers being thwarted by circumstances out of their control. (Troilus and Cressida, Tristan and Isolde) also show these traits.

Alan Jay Lerner said of the script:
“Arthur Laurent’s book , with its moving retelling of the Romeo and Juliet tale….. Is a triumph
of style and model of its genre.
As a fellow tradesman, I was filled with the deepest admiration.” Jerome Robbins 1918-1998 Robbins approaches Robbins did not allow those playing members of opposite gangs (Jets and Sharks) to mix during the rehearsal process. He also played psychological games with the cast and would plant rumors among one gang about the other so they hatred became real

Political/ social issues raised/ implied in WSS:
Women's rights/ freedom (America), immigration and youth culture
Crime/ violence, prostitution, religion, drugs, work prospects, fight for land/control, racism (cops take Jets side), industry boom.

Troubles addressed in WSS that Robbin's related to personally - Falling in love with the wrong person, bisexuality, betrayal, harsh taskmaster, mental health, commie - gang leaders/plotting, family (Gee officer Krupke)
Social/ historical/ cultural context 1957 Rodger's and Hammerstein's 'Cinderella', the teams only musical written especially for Tv, is telecast live in color starring Julie Andrews in the title role which was seen by millions.

American Bandstand, a local dance show in
Philadelphia joins ABC Tv network

The Wolfenden report on Homosexuality
is published in the UK

After the Swing Era and World War II,
American social dancing cooled down, in a shift from dance bands to concerts in night clubs. This was due to many factors — musician union fees that made big bands unaffordable, the aesthetics of bebop cool jazz, and a generation of post-war veterans with the new priority of settling down and raising a family. Social, historical, cultural context cont... Rebellious time - teens didnt want to dance like their parents who were actively disapproving of their lifestyle. Also a change in music - more rock 'n' roll. African American black maids/ cooks/students taught new steps and styles at high schools and local dances

1957 WEST SIDE STORY A Jewish American film director and choreographer

Work included classical ballet and contemporary musical theatre

Surname was Rabinowitz which means son of a rabbi but he changed his surname to Robbins.
In the early 1920’s the family moved from New York to New Jersey where 10 years earlier the Astaire family had lived only a block away from where Robbins grew up

Robbins studied Chemistry at NYU but dropped out for financial reasons/ the great depression to pursue dance.

Studied at New Dance league - teachers included Isadora Duncan and Martha Graham, Ella Daganova, Antony Tudor and Eugene Lorong(Ballet) Helen Veola(Modern and Spanish Dance) Yeichi Nimura(Folk Dance) Bessie Schoenberg(Composition)

Robbins danced on Broadway in the Chorus of shows
such as Great Lady, The Straw Hat Review and
keep off the Grass which Balanchine

Robbins began choreographing at Camp Tamiment in Pennsylvania - creating pieces which were dramatic in content with issues such as race, lynching and war. Other facts -Sought-after choreographer on Broadway
-First American born ballet choreographer of International standing
-People doubted that ballet could be an American art, Robbins made it one
-WSS was his greatest triumph
-Robbins developed American dance contrasting European/ Russian counterparts who trained at ballet schools under a strict technique
1964 - Robbins left musical theatre for good after 'Fiddler on the roof' which was another work which highlighted his traditions and religion
-He returned to New York City Ballet and never left. His style in his later work became increasingly abstract and classical perhaps under the influence of his great idol George Balanchine who headed the company Robbins V's "A Jewish ex-commie fag who went into a mental hospital" Balachine:
-Ballet offers hints of narrative but main connection to the music
-Classical ballet vocabulary
- No stories, mime or characters
-Dancer's in leotards and tights
-Extended limbs
-Strong bodies
Balachine made quick choreographic decisions and could produce a ballet within two days Robbin's:
-Perfectionist - worked dancer's hard
-Combined ballet and theatre
-Dancer's run and are flat footed
-Dancer's interact - real people
-Work concerned with reality - real issues
-combines character, comedy and storytelling
-communicates ideas through movement Robbin's was hugely influenced
by Balanchine and although they
differed significantly in what they
produced or wanted to produce when
they worked together they shared an
ability to advance the form -On Balanchines death in
1983 Robbin's became
artistic director with Peter Martins until he retired in 1990.
-1990 - Robbin's had a bicycle accident and in 1994 a heart-valve surgery. In 1996 Robbin's began showing signs of a form of parkinson's disease and his hearing was quickly deteriorating. He nevertheless insisted on staging Les Noces for City Ballet in 1998. Two months later he suffered a stroke. The lights of Broadway dimmed. Music by unknown
composer Leonard Bernstein - Also gay Agnes De Mille 'Oklahoma!' and Bob Fosse also crossed easily between ballet and broadway
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