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.
Jerome Robbins: His Life, His Theater, His Dance , by Deborah Jowitt (Simon & Schuster, 2004)
Notes by Doug Fullington.