Review Of "Somewhere: The Life Of Jerome Robbins" By A. Vaill

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Known for her biography of Gerald and Sara Murphy, Everybody Was So Young (CH, Apr'99, 36-4274), Vaill tackles another kind of love story here. First and foremost, this is a tale of American choreographer/director/dancer Jerome Robbins's tumultuous relationship with his work over the course of his long, productive career. But one also learns about the many ways Robbins's personal life, particularly his love affairs (heterosexual and homosexual), impacted his choreography. Vaill follows Robbins (1937-98) from his beginning amateur forays through his mature development as one of the most noted ballet, musical theater, and Hollywood artists in the US. Her careful research and access to Robbins's papers result in a book that gives a full reading of circumstances surrounding the creation of many of Robbins's masterworks, including such musicals as The King and I, West Side Story, and Fiddler on the Roof and such ballets as Afternoon of a Faun, Watermill, and Goldberg Variations, which helped define neoclassic American ballet. Vaill is not a dance historian or critic, so those interested in analysis of Robbins's choreography should turn to Arlene Croce, Deborah Jowitt, or Marcia Siegel. But generalists will appreciate the useful light Vaill casts on the work of this multifaceted genius. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-/lower-division undergraduates; general readers.


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