The Jerome Robbins Award

Jerome Robbins Award Statue

Sculptor: Robin Heidi Kennedy

In 1995, Jerome Robbins wrote to the directors of his foundation:

I would like there to be established a prize to some really greatly outstanding person or art institution. The prizes should lean toward the arts of dance and its associative collaborators but not necessarily be defined by that surround.

In explanation, he cited many callings, from teachers and designers to choreographers and presenting organizations, enjoining the directors to award the prize only when warranted by the distinction of the person, organization, or project. The original directors of The Jerome Robbins Foundation – Floria V. Lasky, Esq., Mr. Allen Greenberg, and Dr. Daniel Stern – in pursuit of Mr. Robbins’ expressed desires, awarded the first two Jerome Robbins Awards in 2003. Past recipients have included:

Chita Rivera, Stephen Sondheim and Harold Prince shared the 2013 Jerome Robbins Award on February 18, 2013 at the Baryshnikov Arts Center. A full evening of performances, hosted by Frank Rich and featuring stars from Broadway as well as dancers from New York City Ballet were included in the presentation.
On September 30, the 2011 Jerome Robbins Award was shared by 30 former or current New York City Ballet principal ballerinas, 4 posthumously, who danced several principal roles in Jerome Robbins’ ballets. Vital to the decades of Jerome Robbins’ creative life at New York City Ballet, the honorees are: Heléne Alexopoulos, Alexandra Ansanelli, Merrill Ashley, Yvonne Borree, Maria Calegari, Suzanne Farrell, Judith Fugate, Melissa Hayden (deceased), Jillana, Nora Kaye (deceased), Allegra Kent, Gelsey Kirkland, Darci Kistler, Maria Kowroski, Tanaquil Le Clercq (deceased), Sara Leland, Lourdes Lopez, Kay Mazzo, Patricia McBride, Yvonne Mounsey, Kyra Nichols, Janet Reed (deceased), Jenifer Ringer, Melinda Roy, Stephanie Saland, Margaret Tracey, Violette Verdy, Heather Watts, Miranda Weese, Wendy Whelan. The awards were presented by Chita Rivera at an all-Robbins program of the New York City Ballet.

The ballerinas offered remembrances of working with Mr. Robbins, which were included in that evening’s program

Robert Wilson (concept, movement, video, visual, and lighting design) was described by The New York Times as a towering figure in the world of experimental theater. Wilson’s works integrate a wide variety of artistic media, combining movement, dance, lighting, furniture design, sculpture, music, and text into a unified whole. His images are aesthetically striking and emotionally charged, and his productions have earned the acclaim of audiences and critics worldwide. Wilson’s awards and honors include two Guggenheim Fellowship awards (’71 and ’80), the Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship award (’75), the nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama (’86), the Golden Lion for sculpture from the Venice Biennale (’93), the Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for lifetime achievement (’96), the Premio Europa award from Taormina Arte (’97), election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (’00), the National Design Award for lifetime achievement (’01), and Commandeur des arts et des lettres (’02).

A native of Waco, Texas, Wilson was educated at the University of Texas and arrived in New York in 1963 to attend Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute. Soon thereafter Wilson set to work with his Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds and together with this school developed his first signature works including King of Spain (’69), Deafman Glance (’70), The Life and Times of Joseph Stalin (’73), and A Letter for Queen Victoria (’74). Regarded as a leader in Manhattan’s burgeoning avant-garde, Wilson turned his attention to large-scale opera and, with Philip Glass, created the monumental Einstein on the Beach (’76), which achieved world-wide acclaim and altered conventional notions of a moribund form.

After Einstein on the Beach, Wilson worked increasingly with European theaters and opera houses. In collaboration with internationally renowned writers and performers, Wilson created landmark original works that were featured regularly at the Festival d’ Automne in Paris, the Schaubuhne in Berlin, the Thalia Theater in Hamburg, and the Salzburg Festival. At the Schaubuhne he created Death Destruction & Detroit (’79) and Death Destruction & Detroit II (’87); and at the Thalia he presented the groundbreaking musical works The Black Rider (’91) and Alice (’92). He has also applied his striking formal language to the operatic repertoire including Parsifal in Hamburg (’91) and Houston (’92), The Magic Flute (’91), Madame Butterfly (’93), and Lohengrin at the Metropolitan Opera in New York (’98). Wilson recently completed an entirely new production, based on an epic poem from Indonesia, entitled I La Galigo, which toured extensively and appeared at the Lincoln Center Festival in the summer of 2005.

Wilson continues to direct revivals of his most celebrated productions, including The Black Rider in London, San Francisco, and Sydney, Australia, The Temptation of St. Anthony in New York and Barcelona, Erwartung in Berlin, Madama Butterfly at the Bolshoi Opera in Moscow, and Wagner’s The Ring at Le Chatelet in Paris.

Wilson’s practice is firmly rooted in the fine arts, and his drawings, furniture designs, and installations have been shown in museums and galleries internationally. Extensive retrospectives have been presented at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He has mounted installations at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, London’s Clink Street Vaults, and the Guggenheim Museums in New York and Bilbao. His extraordinary tribute to Isamu Noguchi has been exhibited most recently at the Seattle Art Museum, and his installation of the Guggenheim’s Giorgio Armani retrospective traveled to London, Rome, and Tokyo. In 2007, Paula Cooper Gallery and Phillips de Pury & Co in New York held exhibitions of his most recent artistic venture, the VOOM Portraits, with subjects including Gao Xingjian, Winona Ryder, Mikhail Baryshnikov, and Brad Pitt. The exhibition then opened at ACE Gallery in Los Angeles and will continue to tour this year. His drawings, prints, videos, and sculpture are held in private collections and museums throughout the world. He is represented by the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York City.

Each summer Wilson hosts students and professional artists from around the world at the International Summer Arts Program at the Watermill Center in eastern Long Island, an interdisciplinary laboratory for the arts and humanities. In July of 2006, the Watermill Center dedicated a brand new building on its grounds, including rehearsal spaces, dormitories, and residences, and inaugurated a year-round programming schedule.

Since graduating from college in 1963, Twyla Tharp has choreographed more than one hundred and thirty-five dances, five Hollywood movies, directed and choreographed three Broadway shows, written two books and received one Tony Award, two Emmy Awards, nineteen honorary doctorates, the Vietnam Veterans of America President′s Award, the 2004 National Medal of the Arts, the Jerome Robbins Award, The Kennedy Center Honors and many grants including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
Fellowship. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and an Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In 1965 Ms. Tharp founded her dance company, Twyla Tharp Dance. In addition to choreographing for her own company, she has choreographed for other companies including: American Ballet Theatre, The Paris Opera Ballet, The Royal Ballet, New York City Ballet, The Boston Ballet, Hubbard Street Dance, The Martha Graham Dance Company, Miami City Ballet and Pacific Northwest Ballet.

Ms. Tharp′s work first appeared on Broadway in 1980 with WHEN WE WERE VERY YOUNG, followed in 1981 by her collaboration with David Byrne on THE CATHERINE WHEEL at the Winter Garden. Her 1985 production of SINGIN′ IN THE RAIN played at
the Gershwin and was followed by an extensive national tour. In 2002, Ms. Tharp’s award-winning dance musical MOVIN′ OUT set to the music and lyrics of Billy Joel premiered at the Richard Rodgers and ran for three years. A national tour opened in 2004 and also ran for three years. For MOVIN′ OUT Ms. Tharp received the 2003 Tony Award, the 2003 Astaire Award, the Drama League Award for Sustained Achievement in Musical Theater; and both the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Choreography. For the London production Ms. Tharp won Best Choreography (Musical Theatre) Award of the UK′s Critics′ Circle National Dance Awards 2006. In 2006 Ms. Tharp worked with Bob Dylan’s music and lyrics to create THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’ which played at the Brooks Atkinson.

In film Ms. Tharp has collaborated with director Milos Forman on HAIR in 1978, RAGTIME in 1980, and AMADEUS in 1984, with Taylor Hackford on WHITE NIGHTS in 1985 and with James Brooks on I′LL DO ANYTHING in 1994. Her television credits include choreographing SUE′S LEG for the inaugural episode of PBS′ DANCE IN AMERICA, co-producing and directing MAKING TELEVISION DANCE, which won the Chicago International Film Festival Award; and directing THE CATHERINE WHEEL for BBC Television. Ms. Tharp co-directed the television special BARYSHNIKOV BY THARP, which won two Emmy Awards as well as the Director′s Guild of America Award for Outstanding Director Achievement.

In 1992 Ms. Tharp wrote her autobiography PUSH COMES TO SHOVE. Her second book, THE CREATIVE HABIT: LEARN IT AND USE IT FOR LIFE was published in October, 2003.

Today Ms. Tharp continues to create and to lecture around the world.

As America’s oldest professional ballet company, San Francisco Ballet has enjoyed a long and rich tradition of artistic “firsts” since its founding in 1933, performing the first American productions of Swan Lake and Nutcracker, as well as the first 20th-century American Coppélia. A lively, vital ensemble, San Francisco Ballet is one of the three largest ballet companies in the United States.

Since its early years under the direction of American dance pioneers and brothers Lew, Willam, and Harold Christensen, San Francisco Ballet now presents more than 100 performances annually, both locally and internationally.

Under the direction of Helgi Tomasson since 1985, the Company has achieved an international reputation as one of the preeminent ballet companies in America. By commissioning new works by some of today’s most sought-after choreographers, giving rise to young talent, acquiring existing works by master choreographers, and introducing new interpretations of classic full-length productions, Tomasson has created a sophisticated, diverse international repertory that offers powerful entertainment for all audiences.

Mikhail Baryshnikov, one of the world’s greatest dancers and champions of dance, has pursued his passion for over 40 years in a range of dance disciplines. A native of Riga, Latvia, he began studying ballet at age nine; as a teenager, he entered the school of the Kirov Ballet, graduating from student to principal dancer in 1969. In 1974, he left Russia to pursue a career with ballet and modern companies around the world, settling in NYC in 1979 as a principal dancer with the American Ballet Theatre and from 1979 to 1980, with New York City Ballet. 1n 1980 he returned to ABT as artistic director, nurturing a new generation of dancers and choreographers. In his illustrious career, he has danced more than one hundred different works on the world’s greatest stages. Most of the world’s foremost choreographers have created works especially for him, including Jerome Robbins with A Suite of Dances. In addition to his dancing, Baryshnikov has proved himself a capable actor, starring in five films and earning an Oscar-nomination for his performance in The Turning Point. He has appeared numerous times on television, including three Emmy award-winning specials. In 1989, he appeared on Broadway in Metamorphosis, earning a Tony nomination and a Drama Critics Award. From 1990-2002, Baryshnikov was director and dancer with White Oak Dance Project, using his remarkable talents to expand the repertoire of American modern dance. His most recent BAM performances were in 2000 and 1997 with White Oak Project featuring the choreography of Trisha Brown, John Jasperse, and Mark Morris, among others. Baryshnikov is currently devoting his time and energy to the realization of the Baryshnikov Arts Center, dedicated to the development of new and experimental work. He is also performing in a new play created by the acclaimed theater artist Rezo Gabriadze. Among his most recent awards are the Kennedy Center Honors, The National Medal of Honor, Commonwealth Award, and The Chubb Fellowship.

Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) is recognized internationally for its innovative programming of dance, music, theater, music-theater, opera, and film. BAM presents leading national and international artists and companies in its annual Spring Season and highlights groundbreaking, contemporary work in the performing arts with its Next Wave Festival each fall. Founded in 1983, the Next Wave is one of the world′s most important festivals of contemporary performing arts. BAM Rose Cinemas features new, independent film releases and BAMcinématek—a curated, daily repertory film program—features classics, retrospectives, and contemporary international films often accompanied by guest speakers.

BAM also serves New York City′s diverse population through a weekend concert series in BAMcafé, community events, literary series, and a wide variety of educational programs. BAM, America′s oldest performing arts center in continuous operation, has presented performances since 1861, and attracts an audience of 400,000 people each year. The institution is led by President Karen Brooks Hopkins and Executive Producer Joseph V. Melillo.

Ms. Tipton, born in Columbus, Ohio, began her studies at Cornell University in astrophysics, graduated with a degree in English, and moved to New York City where she studied dance and performed with a group called the Merry-Go-Rounders. She began her design career under the tutelage of lighting designer Thomas Skelton and since then has won international acclaim and honors for her work in the performing arts including numerous Tony, Obie, Bessie, and Olivier Awards. In addition to her work in theater and opera, she has worked closely with Mikhail Baryshnikov and such choreographers as Jiri Kylian, Dana Reitz, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp. Her first collaboration with Mr. Robbins took place in 1973 at the Spoleto Festival in Italy where she lit Celebration: The Art of the Pas de Deux. Other collaborations with Mr. Robbins include Antique Epigraphs; Brahms/Handel (with Twyla Tharp);Brandenburg; The Dybbuk Variations; The Four Seasons; In Memory Of…; In the Night; Ives, Songs; Quiet City; A Suite of Dances; Watermill; and West Side Story Suite.
New York City Ballet was established by George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein in 1948. Over the past half century, NYCB has become one of the most highly regarded dance companies in the world, both for its stewardship of the Balanchine and Robbins repertory and for its commitment to new choreography. A co-founding choreographer with Mr. Balanchine, Mr. Robbins joined NYCB in 1949 and continued his association with the Company until the year of his death. He choreographed some of his greatest works for New York City Ballet, including The Cage (1951), Afternoon of a Faun (1953), Fanfare (1953), The Concert (1956), Dances at a Gathering (1969), The Goldberg Variations (1971), In G Major (1975), The Four Seasons (1979), Opus 19/The Dreamer (1979),Glass Pieces (1983), I’m Old Fashioned (1983), Antique Epigraphs (1984), Ives, Songs (1988), 2 & 3 Part Inventions (1994), andBrandenburg (1997). visit New York City Ballet