Fancy Free

Jerome Robbins

Fancy Free is a ballet by Jerome Robbins, subsequently ballet master of New York City Ballet, to a score by Leonard Bernstein, with scenery by Oliver Smith, costumes by Kermit Love and lighting by Ronald Bates. The premiere took place on 18 April 1944 at the old Metropolitan Opera House, New York. The NYCB premiere took place on 31 January 1980. Fancy Free was the inspiration for a successful musical, On the Town, and a portion of the score was also used in the opening scenes of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window.

The scene is a bar and the outside sidewalk in New York City, in wartime. Three sailors on liberty boisterously arrive, have a drink (two of their number conning the third into paying), and head outside looking for female companionship. A beautiful girl passes by and the three sailors vie for her attention. She demurs and escapes, pursued by two of the sailors. The Third, having been left in the dust, encounters another beautiful passer-by, and invites her to have a drink with him. He impresses her with a pantomime of his military exploits, and they dance a passionate pas de deux.

The other two sailors arrive with the first girl, who recognizes the second girl as a friend. The sailors realize their predicament: three men, but only two girls. The couples dance and change partners, with one always left dancing alone. Finally, it is decided that the three sailors will hold a contest and the loser will go dateless. Each sailor performs a solo variation, but they're so equally matched that the girls can't decide and the boys come to blows. In the midst of the fistfight, the girls flee in terror. Seeing their dates vanish, the sailors pick themselves up, have another drink and head outside again. Another beautiful girl passes by, and the three sailors take off in hot pursuit.

  • World Premiere: World Premiere by Ballet Theatre (now American Ballet Theatre), Metropolitan Opera House, New York (USA), on April 18th, 1944
  • Premiere by CND: Premiere by Compañía Nacional de Danza at Teatro de la Zarzuela, Madrid (Spain), July 12nd 2023.
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  • Choreography:
    Jerome Robbins
  • Music:
    Leonard Bernstein
  • Costume Design:
    Kermit Love
  • Set Design:
    Oliver Smith
  • Lightning Design:
    Ronald Bates
  • Staging:
    Jean-Pierre Frohlich
  • Supervision of set design:
    Rosaria Sinisi
  • Set and costumes:
    The Royal Danish Theatre
  • Duration:
    29 min