Jerome Robbins was born in 1918 in New York City as Jerome Rabinowitz. He trained as a dancer of Modern Dance and studied classical ballet with Ella Daganova, Eugene Loring and Antony Tudor. His career as a dancer began in 1937, at first in the genre of musicals, before he switched in 1940 to the Ballet Theatre (later renamed the American Ballet Theatre). As one of the company’s soloists he attracted attention with parts such as Hermes in “Helen of Troy«, the Moor in »Petrushka« and Benvolio in »Romeo and Juliet«. At the age of 25 Jerome Robbins devised his own first ballet, »Fancy Free« to the music of Leonard Bernstein, later expanding it into the musical »On the Town«. He became famous for his innovative choreography of various Broadway musicals, including »High Button Shoes« (1947) and »The King and I« (1951). Further musicals were »Peter Pan« (1954) and two legendary productions, »West Side Story« (1957) and »Fiddler on the Roof« (1964). In 1989 he compiled a Broadway variety show out of excerpts from his earlier successes.
In 1949 George Balanchine appointed Jerome Robbins Associate Artistic Director of the New York City Ballet. From 1983 to 1990 he was ballet co-director with Peter Martins. Many of his total of 66 works created for the New York City Ballet are still in their repertoire today, notably »Dances at a Gathering« (1969) and »Goldberg Variations« (1971). From 1974 to 1980 Jerome Robbins was a member of the National Council on the Arts and from 1973 to 1988 a member of the New York State Council on the Arts Dance Panel. He founded and partly financed the Jerome Robbins Film Archive of the Dance Collection of the New York City Public Library at Lincoln Center. 1976 brought him the Handel Medallion of New York City, 1981 the Kennedy Center Honors and 1988 the National Medal of the Arts. He was awarded three honorary doctorates. In 1985 the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters made him an honorary member. His numerous film and musical productions won him several Tony awards. Jerome Robbins died in New York in 1998. Only very few artists have succeeded in reconciling classical ballet and Broadway, pure art and commercial entertainment as Robbins did. His works have long since become classics of the 20th century.