Magazine September 10, 2018, Issue

Jerome Robbins at 100

The American Ballet Theatre performing Jerome Robbins’s Fancy Free at Covent Garden in 1946 (Baron/Getty Images)

What is the real subject of Jerome Robbins’s 1944 ballet Fancy Free? The dance depicts three sailors carousing during shore leave in the next-to-last year of World War II, but Robbins has nothing to say about the miseries of combat. And, since we see the sailors only in and around a big-city bar, the choreographer concerns himself not at all with the drudgeries of life in uniform.

Instead, Fancy Free — like François Truffaut’s Stolen Kisses or Irwin Shaw’s “The Girls in Their Summer Dresses” — is a meditation on the mostly wholesome joys of young manhood at midcentury: telling tall

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Peter Tonguette — Mr. Tonguette writes about the arts for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Examiner, The American Conservative, and other publications.

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Books, Arts & Manners




“Last night, the winds went wild at war, their gusts and gales made chaos swarm, and then . . . they weren’t there anymore.”


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