Show Business: Dancing Master

"So make the guests happy," said the entertainment director at Camp Tamiment in the Poconos, and young Jerry Robbins did—as a borscht-belt dancer. Jerry (whose real name was Rabinowitz) wanted to be a chemist, but his immigrant father was toughing it out in the corset business in Weehawken, N.J., and Jerry had to take what jobs he could find.

He was too good to stay in the Poconos; he worked his way up from the chorus of Broadway musicals to leading roles with Ballet Theater. The wiry kid from Weehawken was uneasy in velvet...

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