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Vail Dance Festival Vol. 1 No. 1 - Other Dances

Baryshnikov recalled the rehearsal process for Other Dances with Jerome Robbins: “He himself showed us everything; he moves beautifully, and could demonstrate very clearly the idiosyncratic changes, the shifts in direction he wanted.”

“Sometimes he would take a rehearsal and dance the whole thing for me; I wouldn’t dance a step. But seeing him dance is what brought me closest to dancing it the way he wanted. He gave so much that I learned it all more quickly than I thought I would. He’s stupendous!”

—Baryshnikov in Baryshnikov at Work (affiliate link)

(left) Robbins rehearses with Makarova and Baryshnikov observes. Photo by Dina Makaroff.

(right) Robbins and Makarova rehearse. Photo by Brownie Harris.

Robbins rehearses Makarova, unknown documentary.


Natalia Makarova's Perspective on "Other Dances"

“In Other Dances, the body seems to be weaving a shawl of Valenciennes lace; the choreographic design is the fabric of the lace and the space between the threads is filled with the pauses, the hesitations, the subtle nuances, that fine understatement of movement that for me is the most precious feature of the romantic ballet.”

“The natural response of my body to the music and the movements dictated by Jerry are in complete harmony. It is always natural for me to live within his creative system.”

“When I rehearsed the last variation to the mazurka in Other Dances, Jerry said, 'Imagine that you are Isadora [Duncan] on pointe.' And freedom of movement came at once.”

Experts from A Dance Autobiography by Natalia Makarova (affiliate link)

(center) Photo by Max Waldman

(left & right) Photos by Dina Makaroff


Mikhail Baryshnikov's Perspective on Other Dances:

Of the rehearsal process, Baryshnikov recalled: "[Robbins] didn't use many verbal or psychological descriptions to elicit from us what he wanted. […]  Basically, the whole ballet is just a musical idea. It was born of and lives inside the music."

—Baryshnikov in Baryshnikov at Work (affiliate link)

In an interview with Fjord Review, Baryshnikov talked about the relationship between Robbins and Makarova in rehearsals. “She never had a very good memory from rehearsal to rehearsal. She was kind of improvising all the time, and Jerry loved that too, but he’d say, “Well, yesterday I saw you do this.” And she’d say, “Well, today is a different day, Jerry.” It was sort of a comedy routine with Natasha. It was sweet to see them play like two kids.”

(top left) Photo by Fred Fehl, 1976.

(top right) Photo by Martha Swope, 1978.

(bottom left) Photo by Martha Swope, 1976.

(bottom right) Photo by Martha Swope.


In 1980, Robbins allowed "Other Dances" to be filmed for PBS's "Dance in America" program.

1) “Other Dances begins with a bit of a tease. Here are two virtuosos, yet in the opening adagio to a slow mazurka, Robbins gave them hardly a step that was beyond the capabilities of any technically accomplished dancer. Instead, he offered them as immensely subtle artists and fellow Russians.”

2) “In the first [solo], the choreographer let Baryshnikov unleash all his startling jumps; in one sequence, with his legs bent into a diamond in the air, he uncannily shivers them.”

3) “Robbins makes [Makarova] look as fleet as a butterfly in one solo, twisting this way and that as she dances.”

—Excerpts from Jerome Robbins: His Life, His Theater, His Dance by Deborah Jowitt

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