Dance: Jazzing It Up at the Ballet

Robbins meets Gershwin, and both come out winners

George Gershwin was the archetypal American composer: a Tin Pan Alley tunesmith with high artistic aspirations. The man who set the country humming Oh, Lady, Be Good and Someone to Watch Over Me also wrote more formally complex, jazz-tinged "crossover" works like Rhapsody in Blue, three Preludes for piano, and most ambitious of all, the Concerto in F for piano and orchestra.

In dance, the likely parallel is Choreographer Jerome Robbins, 63, of the New York City Ballet. Robbins' popular credentials are impeccable—a string of Broadway hits that includes the dances for On the Town,...

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