Fontaine said, “Oh, Bob, what a beautiful ballet!” But no, I wasn’t very good at it. I was standing in the wings before entering the difficult first entrance to the piano cadenza, and I was like, ‘If I can get past this cadenza, I’ll be okay. But do you know? I never could. ”
Bob spent the rest of his life laughing at such primary source information. Likewise, he only lit up once when he had to inform Jerome Robbins of Balanchine’s decision to overturn Robbins. At that time, Bob described himself as “a messenger of God.”
He cherished the challenge of programming at City Ballet. As Balanchine’s life drew to a close, Bob became an influential figure in the decision to name Peter Martins as Balanchine’s successor in running the company.
of 1987, Bob left Knopp to edit The New Yorker magazine. That was when dance critic Arlene Croce, one of Bob’s most dear friends at the time, began to lash out in print at what she saw as Martins’ flaws as Balanchine’s successor. In 1988, a crisis occurred after the publication of her infamous essay Dimming the Lights on the decline of Balanchine’s repertoire at City Ballet.On Martins’ orders, but without protest, Bob left the board..
Coincidentally, I had come from London for six months at that point as a guest dance critic for The New Yorker magazine. It was easy to see how Bob loved to fill his work with laughter. Once, when I was preparing an essay on Paul Taylor’s choreography, Bob walked into my office with a leaping step beside Taylor.
On another occasion, he mentioned the step, the tendu, which is the foundation of the Balanchine style. Dancers know that it has to be done repeatedly every day, and that when done right it unlocks a whole realm of technique and style. Bob loved his job and loved the idea of Tendu.