The complex life and enormous influence of one of the most commanding creative forces in America dance and show business is examined in this first-rate biography.
Robbins’s genius was legendary: He was second to none at creating a dance move or at staging and directing. His artistry stretched across the consciousness of a generation, from On the Town (which broke the color barrier as the first completely integrated Broadway show) to The King and I to West Side Story to Fiddler on the Roof—as well as countless ballet pieces, such as Fancy Free and Afternoon of a Faun. Despite his successes on the screen, however, Robbins was always most at home on stage, both for theater and ballet. The behind-the-scenes stories of his famous productions are enjoyable, particularly since a wondrous assortment of the late-and-great appears on practically every page (Leonard Bernstein, Nora Kaye, Zero Mostel, Ethel Merman, George Balanchine, Patricia McBride, etc.). Despite the stellar supporting cast, however, Robbins remains the star of the show and is the soul revealed. Demonized throughout his life by his insecurities (his difficult relationship with his parents, his sexuality, his feelings toward Judaism), his unrelenting push for perfection (he was often brutal to the dancers and actors), and his politics (he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee), Robbins appears in these pages under the guise of a tormented genius. Lawrence (The Shape of Love, 1990, etc.) presents a trove of fascinating, exhaustive information (there are over 60 pages of notes) and makes good use of the many quotes given by those who loved Robbins (and those who despised or feared him).
Essential for anyone interested in 20th-century dance and pop culture. (16 pages b&w photos not seen)