Flashcards in Prologue (Jerome Robbins) Deck (25)
What is the overall expressive intention of Prologue?
The Prologue introduces the rivalry between the Jets (Americans) and the Sharks (Puerto Ricans). The young boys battle over which group shall maintain control of the neighbourhood streets.
What is the expressive intention of Section 1?
The Jets enforce fear and intimidation on others and feel confident and at ease with their ownership of the streets.
What is the expressive intention of Section 2?
The Sharks are frustrated and angry with the Jets and are determined to fight for their rights to own the neighbourhood.
What is the expressive intention of Section 3?
The Jets are at the peak of their confidence and feel as if they are winning their battle against the Sharks.
What is the expressive intention of Section 4?
Both gangs meet in a violent physical fight and their rivalry comes to a head.
List the influences on Prologue's expressive intention.
1. Puerto Rican Immigration
2. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet
Explain how Puerto Rican immigration influenced the expressive intention of Prologue.
When first conceiving the idea for West Side Story, Jerome Robbins initially intended the plot to focus on a young Italian-American Catholic boy who falls in love with a Jewish girl. He envisioned most of the conflict to surround anti-Semitism between two gangs: the Jets and the Emeralds. But in 1954, there was a huge wave of immigration from Puerto Rico to America. As Robbins always wanted to make a modern and realistic musical, in an era where they all lacked dark themes, he was impacted by recent events to change the plot of West Side Story to incorporate this new form of racism. The impact of Puerto Rican immigration can be seen throughout Prologue's expressive intention which centres around racial conflict between White Americans and Puerto Ricans and the violence and animosity that brewed between them.
Explain how Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet influenced the expressive intention of Prologue.
In the creation of West Side Story, Robbins was influenced by Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and wanted to transpose the central familial conflict and doomed lovers to a modern setting channelling the racial tension between Puerto Ricans and White Americans. The influence of Romeo and Juliet can be seen in Prologue's expressive intention, as the dance features an ongoing battle and rivalry between the Jets and the Sharks, mirroring the famous opening battle and animosity between the Montagues and the Capulets in Shakespeare's play.
List the influences on Prologue's movement vocabulary.
1. Classical Ballet
2. Gluck Sandor's Mentoring
Explain how classical ballet influenced the movement vocabulary of Prologue.
Until he saw a performance of Swan Lake, Robbins wasn't interested in classical ballet, being a modern choreographer. Soon after seeing Swan Lake, he realised that a classical vocabulary was a valuable tool to use in conveying stories through dance. He ended up training in ballet with New Dance League and choreographing for the New York City Ballet. The impact of classical ballet on Robbins influenced him to include classical elements in Prologue. One example can be seen in Section 4, where the Jets perform a sou de basque (coupe) turn forwards and later execute a variation of a grand jete en tournant, except finishing with the leg devone as opposed to in arabesque.
Explain how Gluck Sandor's mentoring influenced the movement vocabulary of Prologue.
Robbins auditioned for Gluck Sandor's company and was inspired by his use of the German Expressionist style. Robbins observed and admired Sandor's ability to create character through dance and make the acting of his performers seem more realistic. This impacted Robbins by influencing him to develop a unique application of traditional dance technique to the Broadway stage, blending acting and storytelling with dance. This influence can be seen in Section 4 of Prologue, where a Jet performs a dive roll onto a Shark into plank position before rolling over him as if wrestling and later performing a straight leg barrel turn around another gang member as if narrowly dodging a hit. Both examples clearly demonstrate how Robbins was influenced by Sandor to combine acting and dance to create character.
List the influences on Prologue's production aspects.
1. Robbins's Desire to Create a Modern/Realistic Musical (Set/Lighting)
2. 1950s Fashion (Costume)
3. Racial Tension and Conflict (Costume)
4. 1950s Music (Music)
Explain how Robbins's desire to create a modern and realistic musical influenced the set and lighting of Prologue.
During the 1950s, Broadway musicals were all frothy, with no grit or dark themes, as they were often used as methods of escaping reality. Yet Robbins disliked this trend and wanted to create a musical that mirrored the tension in modern society. This influenced Robbins to choose set and lighting that were minimal and non-theatrical, enabling the emotion of the piece to shine and preventing audience distraction. This can be seen in Prologue's set, which is an everyday, grungy
New York street aiming to heighten the tension and fear between the gangs and remind the audience of the racism occurring in their real lives.
Explain how 1950s fashion influenced the costume of Prologue.
The 1950s led to the coining of the term 'teenagers' and new marketing and products aimed at them. The main looks in 1950s fashion were greasers, often in jeans and black leather, and preppies, distinguished by neatness and good grooming. As Robbins wanted his musical to be realistic to the times, this impacted him to choose 1950s fashion for the costumes of the dancers in Prologue. In the dance, the Jets wear jeans and bomber jackets, drawing inspiration from the greasers, and the Sharks wear shirts and tailored pants, drawing inspiration from the preppies.
Explain how racial tension and conflict influenced the costume of Prologue.
When Robbins's was choreographing West Side Story, there was a lot of tension between Puerto Rican immigrants and White Americans. Robbins chose use contrasting costumes for his Puerto Rican and White American dancers in Prologue to further highlight this social conflict. The Sharks' costumes have a Spanish influence, with high waisted pants, and also contain a lot of red, a prominent colour on the Puerto Rican flag. The Jets, in contrast, draw on the American rocker fashion, with leather jackets and fitted jeans in primarily cool-toned colours.
Explain how 1950s music influenced the music of Prologue.
Robbins was influenced to use 1950s style music in Prologue in order to convey the era the dance is set in. The music is also used to support the build up of tension, as the music becomes fast-paced to highlight the gangs' explosive anger, and slow-paced to reflect their sense of calm confidence in owning the streets.
List three examples of symmetrical group structures in Prologue.
2. Sharks locomote with galloping, clicking and turning in a triangle formation (Bernardo at point).
3. Jets locomote forwards with a gallop, then elevate with a vertical jump.
4. Three Jets locomote forwards down a tunnel in a triangle.
List one example of an asymmetrical group structure from Prologue.
4. Both gangs face one another after Bernardo has caught the basketball. Five Sharks are in a cluster on the left and eleven Jets are in a cluster on the right.
List one example of unison group structures from each section in Prologue.
1. Jets locomote forwards walking, then perform a slow walking turn to shift focus behind them.
2. Sharks elevate leg to second and step into lunge.
3. Jets throwing gesture towards Sharks, then repeat in upwards direction.
4. Three Jets locomote down tunnel crouched and clicking.
List one example of contrast group structures from each section in Prologue.
1. Riff locomotes by striding forwards while the rest of the Jets fan kick and elevate leg to second.
2. Sharks turn and punch fist to side in different directions.
3. Jets locomote sideways with a run while Riff vertically jumps.
4. Fight, Shark elevates straight leg barrel turn, Jet elevates retire jump turn.
List one example of canon group structures from each section in Prologue.
1. Gestural clicks opening.
2. Sharks join in clicks while walking.
3. Jets gang members, then Tony, elevate in a vertical jump.
4. Each gang frog leaps over the other.
List one example of level from each section in Prologue.
1. Different levels for gestural clicks, Riff highest.
2. High level second leg elevations.
3. High level vertical jumps.
4. Low level planking and rolling on floor.
List one example of dimension from each section in Prologue.
1. Jets small dimension fan kicks opening arms to a low demi second with palms down.
2. Sharks large dimension punching gestures.
3. Large dimension throwing gesture to side, then large dimension vertical jump elevation.
4. Large dimension Jets coupe turn and tuck jump.
List one example of direction from each section in Prologue.
1. Jets forwards direction gallops in canon.
2. Sharks locomote forwards with step ball changes and three step turns over Jets logo on ground.
3. Jets throwing gesture in direction towards Sharks.
4. All gang members locomote back and forth in a large zig zag pathway with runs and skids.