In the Night

  • Choreographer: Jerome Robbins
  • Music: Frederic Chopin
  • Costumes: Anthony Dowell
  • Lighting: Jennifer Tipton - recreated by Burke Brown
  • World Premiere: January 29, 1970, New York State Theater
  • PBT Performance Date: May 4-6, 2018. Also performed at Hartwood Acres, August 19, 2018

Program Notes

Robbins is considered the foremost interpreter of Chopin in dance. Four of his ballets are set to the composer’s music: The Concert (1956), Dances at a Gathering (1969), In the Night (1970) and Other Dances (1976). In all of these works Robbins uses Chopin’s complex textures and beautiful melodies to explore how we interact with each other. In the Night is set to four nocturnes, under the darkened intimacy of a starlit sky.

In the ballet three classical pas de deux portray couples at varying moments in their relationships. In the first duet we see a young man and woman who appear to be in the thrill of new love. The choreography is breathless, with airy lifts: they sweep each other off their feet. When the second couple strides onto the stage we immediately feel the routine of their movements. They’re used to each other, perfectly in sync, literally going through the motions. Then the choreography opens up with a completely different quality – it’s suddenly intense, and tender. Perhaps they’re remembering how it used to be; or perhaps a lingering passion seeps up from beneath the routine surface of their lives. As they exit the stage neither looks to see where they’re going. In the last duet the couple is fighting, their anger translated into turbulent choreography: they rush at each other, berate each other, dismiss each other. Finally they come to a truce – in forgiveness, apology or maybe surrender: the woman kneels before the man and he lifts and cradles her. At the end of the ballet, the three couples return to the stage and briefly acknowledge each other, then recede into their own nighttime worlds.

Robbins created the ballet in the fall of 1969, at a moment of deep despair. Among other painful difficulties, two recent romantic relationships had crumbled. In the Night emerged from his own loss as a disarmingly poignant look at love.