Wednesday, April 8, 2009

WC: Jerome Robbins Documentary

(photo by Frederic Ohringer)

Broadway director-choreographer Jerome Robbins was a temperamental genius. People chose to put up with his nastiness because he challenged and inspired them to do better than their best--but few have nice things to say about him as a person. Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance To, a 2009 PBS American Masters documentary, has a lot going for it: a fascinating story, interviews with smart and articulate artists, performance footage, and access to various interviews Robbins gave over the years. It's a solid introduction to, well, an American master.

I do wish, however, that they hadn't put all the footage of Robbins dancing in slow motion, and I also wish they had let the people being interviewed talk more. In particular, in the DVD extras, I wish they hadn't divided people's interviews into thematic sections: for example, Austin Pendleton's comments are spread over four or five sections, and each has to be clicked on individually.

And I mostly wish the documentary had a certain oomph to it. It just wasn't as interesting--to me at least--as I felt it could be.

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