Who is Jerome Robbins?

Jerome Robbins (1918-1998), one of the major forces in 20th-century performing arts, was often praised for seamlessly crossing over from the ballet world into theater, movies, and television—and back to ballet. His works are still performed on stages around the world, not only by ballet companies, but also at countless musical theater venues. A prolific choreographer, he directed and choreographed iconic musical films like West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof. Simultaneously, he created a number of  ballets, primarily for New York City Ballet during his later years. Altogether, Robbins received five Tony Awards, two Academy Awards, one Emmy Award, the Kennedy Center Honors, and many other accolades.

SF Ballet in Robbins' Dances at a Gathering. (© Erik Tomasson)

SF Ballet’s relationship with Robbins began in 1959—long before the Company staged Moves, its first Robbins ballet in 1977, and decades before Helgi Tomasson took the helm at SF Ballet. In 1959, in his native Iceland, Tomasson saw Robbins’ small dance troupe for the first time and found himself attending as many performance as possible during the ensemble’s tour. After introductions, Robbins personally arranged a scholarship for Tomasson to attend the School of American Ballet in New York City, unknowingly initiating a relationship that continues to influence SF Ballet today.

SF Ballet’s repertory includes many of Robbins’ works that showcase his theatricality, including Dances at a Gathering, Glass Pieces, The Concert (or, The Perils of Everbody), West Side Story SuiteIn the Night, and Opus 19/The Dreamer.

Robbins was a uniquely American choreographer with a distinctive and inimitable voice; SF Ballet is proud to help keep his legacy alive through his exceptional and distinctive work.