Photo: Augusta Films.
As part of our "Mercredis de l'Institute" series, Institute fellow and scholar Hiie Saumaa will give a talk on the celebrated choreographer Jerome Robbins and his little-known lifelong role as a writer.
Jerome Robbins (1918-1998) is acclaimed as one of the most versatile and prolific American choreographers of the twentieth century who created both Broadway shows and ballets. Less well known is the fact that Robbins also wrote in multiple genres throughout his life. In this talk, I focus on Robbins’ personal letters, particularly his correspondence with the New York City Ballet dancer Tanaquil Le Clercq (1929-2000). This intensely affectionate exchange unfolded during the time when Le Clercq contracted polio in 1956, which ended her career as a dancer and cast her into a wheelchair for life. I shed light on these letters’ lyrical voice, as well as their humor, healing intent, writerly self-awareness, and visual characteristics. I set this analysis in conversation with the dance form of pas de deux and search for ways in which the letters and Robbins’ dances might be parallel explorations of intimacy, partnering, creativity, and loss.