The quintessential piano ballet, Dances at a Gathering distills the spectrum of human interaction into the most natural of movements, a landmark for its invention, virtuosity, and constantly shifting emotions.
Dances at a Gathering, which premiered in 1969, heralded Jerome Robbins' return to New York City Ballet after a 13-year absence. Inspired by Chopin's piano music, Robbins quickly began choreographing in the rehearsal studio. When he showed 25 minutes of choreography to Balanchine, he said, “Make more, make it like popcorn,” pretending to pop popcorn into his mouth. The work eventually expanded to an hour in length with a cast of ten dancers.
Chopin's mazurkas, waltzes, and études, groundbreaking at the time of their composition, are rooted in the Slavic character of his Polish homeland, yet still convey the elegance of Paris, where they were created. Robbins ultimately used 18 of Chopin's piano pieces, creating dances for various duets, solos, and larger groupings.
THERE ARE NO STORIES TO ANY OF THE DANCES IN DANCES AT A GATHERING. THERE ARE NO PLOTS AND NO ROLES. THE DANCERS ARE THEMSELVES DANCING WITH EACHOTHER TO THAT MUSIC IN THAT SPACE.Jerome Robbins, letter to the editor of Ballet Review, in 1972