Dancers Feared Choreographer Jerome Robbins, Says Rita Moreno
On the eve of the release of a 50th anniversary Blu-ray edition of Leonard Bernstein's West Side Story , the New York Post has observed that an "extra" in the video package, an examination of the dance sequences by co-star Rita Moreno, includes a broadside at the late choreographer, Jerome Robbins. "Jerry would humiliate dancers. It was a regular thing with him. He really wanted his dancers under his thumb," Moreno says in her commentary "He would make them do a step anywhere from 15 to 30 to 40 times, until they were just worn out and worn down -- dispirited, almost. He would make dancers absolutely crazy with tension and fear, and yet he would inspire you." Robbins's exacting behavior resulted in the film going over budget and eventually led to his being fired by the Mirisch Company. In her commentary, Moreno said that all of the dancers, including herself, felt intimidated by Robbins. "It wasn't what he said, but how he said it," she says. Nevertheless, she acknowledges, "If he was alive and called right now and said, 'I want to do a musical with you,' I would drop everything."