In 1970, Jerome Robbins, a preeminent figure in the dance and theater world, established The Jerome Robbins Foundation with the intent to support dance, theater and their associative arts. Following the outbreak of AIDS, Mr. Robbins directed the Foundation's resources almost exclusively to the AIDS crisis. Before his death in 1998, Mr. Robbins expressed his wish that the foundation again extend its resources to the performing arts -- dance and theater especially, but not exclusively -- including what developed into The Jerome Robbins Award.
"I would like there to be established a prize to some really outstanding person or art institution, " explained Mr. Robbins in 1995. "The prize should lean towards the Arts of dance and its associative collaborators but not necessarily be defined by that surround," Mr. Robbins cited many callings from teachers and designers to choreographers and presenting organizations, enjoining the directors to award the prize when warranted by the distinction of the individual, organization, or project. Past recipients are Mikhail Baryshnikov, Twyla Tharp, Jennifer Tipton, Robert Wilson, Brooklyn Academy Of Music, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and 30 current and former principal ballerinas from New York City Ballet.