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Martha Swope, 88, Who Etched Dance and Theater History in Photographs, Dies

By SYLVIANE GOLD

Martha Swope, whose crisp, compelling photographs of dancers and actors at work recorded nearly half a century of stage history, died on Thursday in New York. She was 88.

The cause was Parkinson’s disease, said Jeanne Fuchs, her longtime friend and executor.

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From 1957, when Ms. Swope was invited by Jerome Robbins to shoot rehearsals of “West Side Story,” to 1994, when she shut down her Times Square studio and sold her archive, Ms. Swope produced hundreds of thousands of images of performers in action, capturing Gelsey Kirkland and Mikhail Baryshnikov in full flight, the cast of “La Cage Aux Folles” in full drag and John Travolta in full Saturday night fever.

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Happy Birthday to Jerome Robbins

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West Side Story : Geniuses at Work

By Dennis Razze

“The radioactive fallout from West Side Story must still be descending on Broadway this morning.”

This was the opening line of Walter Kerr’s review of the opening night performance of West Side Story published in the New York Herald Tribune on September 27, 1957. To Kerr, the impact of the musical was as if an atomic bomb dropped on Manhattan—West Side Story certainly changed the American musical forever.
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West Side Story: Storytelling Through Dance

Jerome Robbins translated the tensions between the Sharks and the Jets into dance. Discover how this master choreographed West Side Story in the free online course we made with Soundfly.

The Dance of West Side Story

West Side Story’s opening sequence is told entirely without words, through dance and music. Discover how choreographer Jerome Robbins used dance to convey the tensions and feuds of the story in our free Soundfly course
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Happy Birthday to Jerome Robbins

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Wonders in the Dark

by Sam Juliano

The film of West Side Story produces the same brilliant effect as the play. This does not mean that the stage show has merely been duplicated; on the contrary, to get the same effect, it had to be effectively translated into a second medium. Because of the quality of the original materials and of the translation, the result is the best film musical ever made. -Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic

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West Side Story, a cultural institution with a legacy to match any American film in the musical genre or otherwise, is also a curiosity. Read more... )
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Happy Birthday to Jerome Robbins

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Miami City Ballet delivers fierce, fresh ‘West Side Story Suite'

By Jordan Levin
jlevin@MiamiHerald.com


Fierce and fresh, Miami City Ballet claimed the vibrant territory of musical theater for its own Friday night with the company debut of West Side Story Suite at the Adrienne Arsht Center.

The dancers are not quite the proverbial Broadway triple threat, but the conviction, energy and aplomb of their dancing and overall performance made up for any shortcomings in acting and singing, making this suite of dances from Jerome Robbins’ legendary musical a satisfyingly rich experience.

Robbins staged WSS Suite to leave out the story, almost all the dialogue and many songs, so our sense of the ballet depends largely on knowing the original. Mental comparisons with the movie – the version most people know — are inevitable. But it’s still a thrill to see MCB’s dancers bring much of this show to life.
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George Chakiris to Host Miami City Ballet's West Side Story

Academy Award and Golden Globe Winner, George Chakiris, is headed to Miami to host the Miami City Ballet for West Side Story.

The Miami City Ballet is performing West Side Story Suites, which of course was choreographed by Jerome Robbins. George is so thrilled and honored to be their host for the evening, out of respect for this beautiful company, and very strongly out of his respect for Jerry Robbins. Read more... )
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Happy Birthday to Jerome Robbins

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Sondheim, Prince, Rivera to Receive 2013 Jerome Robbins Award

By Josh Austin

Broadway director-producer Harold Prince, composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim, and dancer-actor Chita Rivera are the recipients of the 2013 Jerome Robbins Award, the Jerome Robbins Foundation announced Jan. 25.

“My colleagues and I could not think of three greater Broadway luminaries than Hal, Chita, and Stephen,” Christopher Pennington, executive director of the Jerome Robbins Foundation, said in a statement. “They were obvious choices for their astounding body of work, for their commitment to and passion for musical theatre, and for bringing their vitality and talent to the American stage for more than half a century.”
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Broadway : the American Musical, Episode Five : Tradition . The first ten minutes are devoted to West Side Story and includes interviews with Jerome Robbins, Stephen Sondheim, Hal Prince, Arthur Laurents, critic Frank Rich, composer Jonathan Sheffer and Julie Taymor. Clips include one from the Ed Sullivan Show of Carol Lawrence and Larry Kert singing Tonight, clips of American & Cool from the film and a few stills from the 1957 production rehearsals.

Well worth catching if you can find it.
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Happy Birthday Jerome Robbins

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Robert Griffin, Harold Prince, Jerome Robbins, Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein, Arthur Laurents, Gerald Freedman, Sylvia Drulie and unidentified man.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/09/20/theater/swope-photographs.html?ref=theater
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West Side Story: the hit that almost didn’t happen

By Richard Ouzounian
Theatre Critic

It’s the best musical that you almost never saw.

West Side Story starts a run for Dancap Productions at the Toronto Centre for the Arts this week. It’s the touring company from the most recent Broadway revival of a show that everyone now not only considers a classic but credits with having taken the musical theatre in new and darker directions.

And it almost didn’t happen. Three times.
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Pow! Violence and West Side Story

by Paul Bullock

One of the things I love about films is how multi-layered they are. Great films – the truly great ones – have hidden depths to them; they can seem like frothy entertainment on first viewing and significant critical theses on second viewing. This happened to me this week with West Side Story. I first watched the film when I was a teenager and was, as practically everyone who watches it is, bowled over by the eloquence of the storytelling, the catchiness of the music and the breathtaking brilliance of the dancing. It seemed a fantastic musical, a wonderful love story and a cracking visual feast. But nothing more.

How wrong I was. Having watched Gypsy recently, I was keen to launch into another Natalie Wood film and WSS was the one I had to hand. As with Gypsy, I fell in love with Wood and her nuanced, heartbreaking performance, but what stood out to me even more was the substance behind the film. Yes, West Side Story is all the things I previously mentioned – indeed, on second viewing all those things stood out even more. But it’s also a searing social satire and a deeply philosophical film about the pointlessness of prejudice and the omnipresent spectre of violence.

Director Robert Wise and choreographer/co-direct Jerome Robbins realise these themes through three methods – colour, camera angles and music – and I’ll go over those in this blog.
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Joey McKneely: The man behind the dance in the touring 'West Side Story' production

By JULIA HATMAKER, The Patriot-News

“West Side Story” is a triple threat of a production. The show, which is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary, is renowned for its story, its music and its dancing — the three key areas for any musical theater show. Each has become a classic in its own right.

So changing any part of the show does not come easy.

It was a challenge tasked to choreographer Joey McKneely during the 2009 Broadway revival headed by Arthur Laurents (who wrote the book for the original version).

Laurents wanted to update “West Side Story” and make it more relevant and accessible to modern audiences. The story, the music, the dancing — those three tenements that made the original a classic — felt dated. A revamp was in order. The man tasked with tweaking the dance was McNeely.

McNeely was familiar with “West Side Story,” having worked on various productions of the show as choreographer and director. He had even worked alongside Jerome Robbins, the original choreographer of the musical, in “Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.” In that show he danced several numbers from “West Side Story” under Robbins’ eye.

Currently in France working on another version of “West Side Story,” McNeely spared a few moments to talk about what it was like working with Robbins, how he adjusted the classic “West Side Story” moves and why he keeps coming back to the play over and over again.

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Telling the story behind the story behind 'West Side Story'


Fifty years after "West Side Story" won 10 Oscars, including best picture, a newspaper in Riverside has told the story behind the story behind "West Side Story."

The story we know: The celebrated musical is an update of "Romeo and Juliet" set among white and Puerto Rican gangs on New York's west side.

The story behind the story known by musical theater aficionados: The show's creators were kick-started into writing the celebrated musical after reading a small Los Angeles Times article about a fight among Latinos gangs on San Bernardino's west side.

The story behind that story: Two young Hispanic men fought outside a dance at a community hall in 1955. One of them died.
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