Past Event

Dance For Two: Choreographer Jerome Robbins’ Unpublished Letters

November 7, 2018
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Columbia Global Centers l Paris, 4 rue de Chevreuse, 75006

Lecture by Hiie Saumaa, lecturer in English and Dance Studies and Fellow with the Institute for Ideas and Imagination.

Jerome Robbins (1918-1998) is acclaimed as one of the most versatile and prolific American choreographers of the twentieth century who created both Broadway shows and ballets. Less well known is the fact that Robbins also wrote in multiple genres throughout his life. In this talk, I focus on Robbins’ personal letters, particularly his correspondence with the New York City Ballet dancer Tanaquil Le Clercq (1929-2000). This intensely affectionate exchange unfolded during the time when Le Clercq contracted polio in 1956, which ended her career as a dancer and cast her into a wheelchair for life. I shed light on these letters’ lyrical voice, as well as humor, healing intent, writerly self-awareness, and visual characteristics. I set this analysis in conversation with the dance form of pas de deux and search for ways in which the letters and Robbins’ dances might be parallel explorations of intimacy, partnering, creativity, and loss.

This lecture is part of the "Wednesdays at the Institute" lecture series organized by the Institute for Ideas & Imagination.

Biography: Hiie Saumaa's scholarship explores dance, literature, and somatics (mind-body techniques), and she has contributed to some of the leading journals in the field. At the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination, Saumaa will be working on a book focused on “the dancing mind,” through the works of Agnes de Mille, Ninette de Valois, Marie Rambert, and Jerome Robbins.

Hiie Saumaa