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NYCB Vol. 10 No. 9 - Fancy Free

In his first ballet, Fancy Free, Jerome Robbins cast himself as the 3rd sailor who was described as an “intense and smoldering character.”

Sono Osato described Robbin’s performance as, “agile, graceful, and poignant, insinuating a spirit into the rumba-dancing sailor that [she had] never seen equaled.” [1]

Jerome Robbins, Fancy Free. Photos by Fred Fehl, 1944. Harry Ransom Center

Janet Reed who played the “red head” dancer in the ballet said, “I didn’t actually witness this, but someone, Johnny [Kriza] or Jerry, told me that the little episode in Jerry’s solo, the rhumba, where he pretends to dance with a girl who isn’t there…he got the idea from seeing a drunken soldier pick up a chair in a bar and dance with it as though it were a girl.” [2]

Photos by Roger Wood, 1946. NYPL

[1] “Distant Dances” by Sono Osato

[2] Todd Bolender, Janet Reed, and the Making of American Ballet” by Martha Ullman West.

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