This spring, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre celebrates the 100th birthdays of iconic choreographer Jerome Robbins and composer Leonard Bernstein with a triple bill of PBT premieres: UPMC Presents West Side Story Suite + In The Night + Fancy Free, on stage May 4-6, at the Benedum Center.
Jerome Robbins (1918-1998) is a cultural giant in both ballet and Broadway dance. His Broadway hits include On the Town, Billion Dollar Baby, High Button Shoes, West Side Story, The King and I, Gypsy, Peter Pan, Miss Liberty, Call Me Madam, and Fiddler on the Roof. His last Broadway production, Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (1989), won six Tony Awards including best musical and best director.
Throughout his career, which included a long-term position as New York City Ballet’s associate artistic director, He choreographed more than 60 ballets, including Fancy Free and In The Night, which PBT also will perform in May.
“No choreographer has so epitomized the American scene, or been so prolific in his expenditure of his creative energy. He contributed a great body of superb work to our dance culture, represented all over the world, and in the continuous performances of musicals during the last 35 years.” New York City Ballet
Beginning in the late 1940s, Robbins teamed up with the brilliant composer Bernstein to create West Side Story, a modern take on Romeo and Juliet, which sets the love story on the streets of 1950s New York in the crosshairs of two feuding gangs: The Jets and the Sharks.
Capturing the essence of the full-length musical, West Side Story Suite premiered in 1995 and samples iconic songs and Tony-winning choreography from the duo’s Broadway musical (1957) — and Academy Award-winning film (1961) — with choreography by Robbins, music by Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and scenery by Oliver Smith.
In the words of Principal dancer Julia Erickson, “West Side Story is such a crowd pleaser. It’s based off of Romeo and Juliet, so it’s a universally compelling story and I think that the suite picks out the greatest parts of it and puts it together in something that can be presented in an evening of ballet.”
Get a sneak peek: