So often mistakes are the most memorable part of a live performance. In The Concert by Jerome Robbins they are built in. The passage from Chopin’s Waltz in E minor, quoted above, has been nicknamed the “Mistake Waltz”. This is an anthology of failures familiar to anyone who has attended several amateur ballets and school concerts. When the entire ensemble has to move in the same direction or synchronize swan gestures, the one who is blatantly out of step is guaranteed to stand out … if not the crowd’s favorite.
Robbins lavishly distributes clowning among all six members of the corps, further benefiting from telegraphed annoyance in every careless attempt at correction. A well-executed silliness seems almost improvised, but as with all of this legendary choreographer’s work, the spontaneous rhythms are very, very specific. This only works if the dancers have the technical prowess and comic ability to pull it off. Apart from Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, this can present a major casting problem. Robbins also felt that The Concert should be presented sparingly so that the jokes don’t get old.