Ballet: Back to Fundamentals

It could be argued that the American ballet style was born on April 18, 1944, when an unknown dancer named Jerome Robbins (teamed with an almost equally unknown composer named Leonard Bernstein) presented a choreographic venture called Fancy Free with the American Ballet Theater. Jazzy in sound and mood, the work brought into the ballet an awareness of the contemporary scene and the way contemporary people move.

Since then, Choreographer Robbins has given ballet a varied, breezy, gutsy dance repertory built largely around modern urban man—joyous and nerve-ridden, frenzied and fey. His work may be an entire ballet (Moves) danced...

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