Voice of My City: Jerome Robbins and New York at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, through March 30, 2019

“Legendary choreographer Jerome Robbins was deeply connected to New York City, drawing inspiration for shows and ballets such as Fancy Free and West Side Story from the people and places around him. This vibrant relationship between the artist and his metropolitan muse serves as the focus of Voice of My City: Jerome Robbins and New York, a new, free multimedia exhibition at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. Showcasing never-before-seen treasures from the world-renowned Jerome Robbins Dance Division, home to his collection and named in honor of his patronage, the exhibition celebrates Robbins’ centennial and his undeniable mark on dance in New York and beyond.

The exhibition includes Robbins’ sketches, rare photographs of his life and productions, personal ephemera, costumes and other artifacts. Mining the rich moving image materials in the Dance Division’s holdings, Voice of My City also features rarely exhibited video of Robbins in rehearsals and experimenting with movements, performances of his works, and footage Robbins himself recorded of New Yorkers walking around the city–sources of inspiration for both his ballet and theater choreography. 

Voice of My City marks the first time all 24 of Robbins’ unique diaries housed in the Dance Division’s collection will be displayed together. In these accordion-style manuscripts, which span 1971 through 1983, Robbins scribbled notes, painted with watercolors, collected news clippings, and even pasted wildflowers, all in an effort to collect his thoughts and harness inspiration.” — The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Jerome Robbins directing dancers during rehearsal for the stage production of West Side Story. 
Silver gelatin print, 
1957. 
Photo by Martha Swope. 
Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Gordon Parks (leaning over tripod) photographs original Fancy Free cast members Muriel Bentley, Janet Reed, Harold Lang, John Kriza, and Jerome Robbins during a Times Square reunion in 1958. 
Silver gelatin print 
Photographer unknown. 
Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Ballets: U.S.A. in N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz. Color transparency, 1958. Copyright Robert A. Freson. Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Ballets: U.S.A. in N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz. Silver gelatin print, 1958. Photo by Jerome Robbins. Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Jerome Robbins dancing in his living room. Silver gelatin print, 1959. Photo by Philippe Halsman © Halsman Archive Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Digital photograph. Adam Hendrickson, Georgina Pazcoguin, and members of New York City Ballet in N.Y. Export: Opus Jazz. Photo by Costas Cacaroukas. Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Digital photograph. New York City Ballet in Glass Pieces. Photo by Costas Cacaroukas. Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Collage, 1973. Jerome Robbins. Jerome Robbins Dance Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

“New York served as a laboratory for Robbins, where he observed people, buildings, traffic–how movement in space could carry meaning and beauty,” explains Julia L. Foulkes, exhibition curator. “The city became the meeting ground between self and world, a way for Robbins to connect stylized ballet and everyday life in dances such as Fancy Free, West Side Story, and Glass Pieces.” 

 Images courtesy The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.