Fancy Free

Music: Leonard Bernstein (1944; Big Stuff recording sung by Dee Dee Bridgewater)
Choreography: Jerome Robbins
Staging: Judith Fugate
Scenic Design: Oliver Smith
Costume Design: Kermit Love
Costume Design Supervisor: Holly Hynes
Original Lighting Design: Ronald Bates
Lighting Design: Randall G. Chiarelli
Duration: 29 minutes
Premiere: April 18, 1944; Ballet Theatre (New York)
Pacific Northwest Ballet Premiere: September 21, 2006

Jonathan Porretta and Glenn Kawasaki in
Fancy Free. Photo © Angela Sterling

The 2006 PNB premiere of Jerome Robbins’ Fancy Free was generously underwritten in part by Glenn Kawasaki.

Imagine New York on a hot summer night in 1944. Three sailors on shore leave pick up two girls and a fight breaks out over which sailor is to be left without a partner. In the bar, they stage a competition, each dancing to win the favor of a girl. When the girls are unable to choose between them, the fight resumes and the girls slip away. The sailors make up, but suddenly a third girl passes their way...Have they learned their lesson?

When Jerome Robbins’ first ballet, Fancy Free, premiered in New York on April 18, 1944, it proved to be one of the most exciting evenings in the history of ballet in America, marking the emergence of three new American talents: choreographer Jerome Robbins, composer Leonard Bernstein, and designer Oliver Smith. That same year, the ballet was transformed into the Broadway musical On the Town and established Robbins and Bernstein as formidable talents in American theater. Robbins danced in the Fancy Free premiere with Janet Reed, one of American ballet’s favorite soubrettes, who went on to join New York City Ballet and later became Founding Director of Pacific Northwest Ballet School.


Notes by Doug Fullington.

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