Dances at a Gathering

Music: Frederic Chopin (Mazurka, Op. 63, no. 3; Waltz, Op. 69, no. 2; Mazurka, Op. 33, no. 3; Mazurka, Op. 6, no. 4; Mazurka, Op. 7, no. 5; Mazurka, Op. 7, no. 4; Mazurka, Op 24, no. 2; Mazurka, Op. 6, no. 2; Waltz, Op. 42; Waltz, Op. 34, no. 2; Mazurka, Op. 56, no. 2; Etude, Op. 25, no. 4; Waltz, Op. 34, no. 1; Waltz, Op. 70, no. 2; Etude, Op 25, no. 5; Etude, Op. 10, no. 2; Scherzo, Op. 20; Nocturne, Op. 15, no. 1)
Choreography: Jerome Robbins
Staging: Susan Hendl and Ben Huys
Costume Design: Joe Eula
Lighting Design: Jennifer Tipton
Duration: 58 minutes
Premiere: May 22, 1969; New York City Ballet
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: May 28, 2009

PNB Company dancers in Dances at a Gathering.
Photo © Angela Sterling

The 2009 Pacific Northwest Ballet premiere of Jerome Robbins' Dances at a Gathering was generously underwritten by Jeffrey & Susan Brotman.

Dances at a Gathering was the first ballet Jerome Robbins made for New York City Ballet upon his return to the company in 1969, following a 12-year absence during which he choreographed some of his best-known Broadway musicals. An hour-long suite for ten dancers, set to solo piano works by Frederic Chopin, Dances at a Gathering began as a pas de deux. Robbins selected more music and the ballet grew. He invited Balanchine to see a rehearsal, asking him if the ballet wasn’t a bit long. Balanchine watched the rehearsal, then said, “More. Make more!”

Speaking before the premiere, Robbins explained, “I’m doing a fairly classical ballet to very old fashioned and romantic music, but there is a point to it. In a way it is a revolt from the faddism today. I find myself feeling just what is the matter with connecting, what’s the matter with love, what’s the matter with celebrating positive things?”

Jerome Robbins dedicated Dances at a Gathering to the memory of lighting designer Jean Rosenthal.

Recommended Reading:
Jerome Robbins: His Life, His Theater, His Dance , by Deborah Jowitt (Simon & Schuster, 2004)

Notes by Doug Fullington.

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