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A Made in The U.S.A. Genius: Jerome Robbins, master choreographer - TIME  

2011-05-07 11:05:06|  分类: 默认分类 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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A Made in The U.S.A. Genius: Jerome Robbins, master choreographer

The elegant curtain of New York City's Metropolitan Opera House rose to reveal a seedy-looking bar. A drummer rapped out four crisp rim shots, and three dancers in bell-bottom trousers charged onstage. One of them was a 25-year-old whiz kid from Weehawken, N.J., starring in the premiere of his first ballet, a breezy tale of girl-crazy sailors on shore leave that he called Fancy Free. At a time when most Americans thought ballet meant women in tutus pretending to be birds, Fancy Free looked more like Fred Astaire than Swan Lake, and the music, a raucously jazzy score by another boy wonder named Leonard Bernstein, had MADE IN THE U.S.A. stamped on every page. Jerome Robbins took two dozen curtain calls that spring night in 1944, and never looked back.

Like Bernstein, Robbins--who died last week at 79, after a stroke--was a crossover artist long before the term was coined. In the '50s and '60s, he spent much of his time working on Broadway, staging such landmark productions as Gypsy and Fiddler on the Roof; he made Mary Martin fly in Peter Pan and taught the Jets and the Sharks how to rumble in West Side Story, the urban updating of Romeo and Juliet that was his (and Bernstein's) most enduring contribution to the American musical. But classical dance was his true love, and in 1969 he turned his back on the commercial theater to devote himself solely to George Balanchine's New York City Ballet, for which he made a string of masterpieces--among them The Cage, Afternoon of a Faun, The Goldberg Variations and, above all, Dances at a Gathering, an hour-long garland of sometimes sentimental, sometimes intensely romantic dances set to music of Chopin--that secured his standing as America's first great native-born ballet choreographer.

In his early ballets, Robbins favored clear-cut dramatic situations. "What really interests me," he said in 1958, "is the conduct of man, the rites he performs to face the mysteries of life." The Cage portrays a tribe of ferocious, insect-like women who kill the men with whom they mate; in Afternoon of a Faun, two dancers meet in a studio for a sensuous yet self-absorbed encounter that ends in an oddly tentative kiss. Later, Robbins adopted the plotless style of Balanchine, his mentor and idol, firmly denying that his new works were "about" anything but movement and music. Dancegoers knew better. Dances at a Gathering may not have a plot, but it is full of vividly drawn characters who relate to one another in abstract yet deeply emotional ways.

Offstage, Robbins was a self-made enigma who gave interviews rarely and only on his own terms, meaning no personal questions. Though his homosexuality was an open secret, he never discussed it in public, going so far in 1951 as to become engaged to the ballerina Nora Kaye. (They never married. Interestingly, he cast her as the novice man killer in The Cage.) It took a subpoena to get him to talk about his private life: he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1953 about his involvement with a communist group of the '40s, naming eight other party members. "I feel I'm doing the right thing as an American," he explained. But many left-wing friends never forgave his apostasy, doubtless reinforcing his inclination to keep the outside world at a safe distance.

Dancers constantly swapped tales of his high-handed behavior at rehearsals. "I know I'm difficult," he told the cast of West Side Story. "I know I'm going to hurt your feelings. But that's the way I am." Painstaking to the point of mania, he often cast his ballets at the last minute, usually after trying out several dancers in each role. "His work was the primary thing in his life," says Edward Villella, who created major roles in Dances at a Gathering and Watermill, "and anybody who was connected with it had to think in those terms too. It was life and blood and humanity, and everybody else was raw material for his genius."

Robbins took his final curtain call in May, at the opening night of the New York City Ballet's revival of his Les Noces. The once vital choreographer had grown frail, but his snow-white beard still glowed like a beacon, and when the dance was over, he made his careful way to center stage, hobbled by age and illness but radiating undimmed authority. More than a few onlookers wept, knowing that the golden age of ballet--the starlit century of Serge Diaghilev, George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Sir Frederick Ashton and Jerome Robbins--was drawing at last to a close.




引文来源  A Made in The U.S.A. Genius: Jerome Robbins, master choreographer - TIME

 

 

说明:本文是英语笔译综合能力二级 A U.S. Made Genius 一文的出处。

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