[April 5, 2018] Anyone who has ever had a tough boss knows the value of a hard-hitting taskmaster that is committed to expanding your talents. Tough bosses can recognize talent before others do but they can also push you to do things you never thought possible. There may not have been a tougher boss than ballet choreographer Jerome Robbins.
“Dance is like life. It exists as you are flitting through it, and when it’s over, it’s done.” – Jerome Robbins, American choreographer, director, and theater producer
Jerome Robbins is the one person who changed the face of Broadway with the now-famous play West Side Story.1 Legend has it that those who worked for him lost their fear of hell because of their work experience with him. Robbins’ was dedicated to getting the most out of the talent with which he was entrusted. Jack Klugman once said, “If he told me to jump out of a window, I’d do it. And, it’d be good.”
He recognized that big change was all about big ideas, and that big ideas are all about big talent. Robbins understood that in the complex world of ideas that marks today’s world, American talent is its best asset. His goal was to make that happen and he put his heart and soul into it.
Talent, he knew, was not expendable. It is not something to be controlled but to be nourished in the upward movement of those who had it. Most importantly, Robbins recognized that leading talent is all about helping it develop and then letting it go. Such genius is rarely seen but it can be appreciated.
This year in 2018, the arts community is having a Centennial Celebration of Jerome Robbins (1918-1998). It has been said that his creative genius during the 20th Century continues today.2 The Jerome Robbins Centennial Timeline is a year-to-year look at the significant events, experiences, and passages in his life and story.
I recommend following this story for the reason that it shows us how a man could find talent and push it to levels never seen before. This is a real story of a leader who was able to enlarge the talent of others.