Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Two Gentlemen of Manhattan
39 years ago this very day, photographer Gjon Mili caught this intense moment at a rehearsal in New York City. The work being considered by these two august gentlemen* is the ballet Dybbuk. Then in preparation for its Lincoln Center premiere, the piece featured the choreography of Jerome Robbins set to the music of Leonard Bernstein. As a piece of art, let's be tactful and just say it turned out to be not quite West Side Story. But what is?
Note the discreet and studious presence of one of Mr. Robbins's Nice Young Men. Unlike some, I'm guessing he was not hired because he could type. The dance world's funny that way. As was Robbins, from most accounts for that matter. Add him, by the bye, to the very short list of Great Names I've encountered (in his case, thankfully, only second hand) about whom I've never heard a nice word. His collaborator was something of a handful, of course, but generally, and justifiably, I think, considered a far pleasanter gent. It's some measure of Robbins's force of character that Bernstein looks almost - not quite - cowed.
There are some shows, in all media, that you know you'd far rather be at rehearsals than the final product, and this is one. Unless, I'm guessing, you were working for Jerome Robbins. In that case, I suppose you'd far rather be at the St. Marks Baths (well, it was 1974)...
* It took all the strength I have not to to title this post "When Ladies Meet."