Jerome Robbins was born in New York City on October 11, 1918. He was trained in modern dance and ballet and began his career in 1937 as a dancer in musicals. In 1940 he moved over to ballet. The first time he created the choreography for a ballet was in 1944 for the show Fancy Free, which was later made into the musical On the Town. Jerome Robbins became famous as an innovative choreographer for Broadway musicals such as High Button Shoes (1947) and The King and I (1951). Other musicals included Peter Pan (1954) as well as the legendary West Side Story (1957) and Fiddler on the Roof (1964). In 1989 he produced an anthology of his earlier Broadway hits as a large Broadway show under the title Jerome Robbins’ Broadway.
Jerome Robbins was appointed the Associate Artistic Director for the New York City Ballet by George Balanchine in 1949 and from 1983 to 1990 he shared the position of Ballet Master in Chief with Peter Martins. He was a soloist in the New York City Ballet and choreographed nine ballets before he founded Ballets: U.S.A. in 1959. Many of his 66 ballets are still produced by the New York City Ballet, such as Dances at a Gathering (1969) and Goldberg Variations (1971).
Jerome Robbins was a member of the National Council on the Arts from 1974 to 1980 and from 1973 to 1988 was a member of the New York State Council on the Arts/Dance Panel. He established and partially endowed the Jerome Robbins Film Archive of the Dance Collection of the New York City Public Library at the Lincoln Center. He received numerous awards including the Handel Medallion of the City of New York in 1976, the Kennedy Center Honors in 1981 and the National Medal of the Arts in 1988. His academic honors included three Honorary Doctorates and an honorary membership in the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1985.
Jerome Robbins died in 1998 in New York.