This Is Why West Side Story Has Never Left Pop Culture

Perfectionism on the Set

Natalie Wood, our dear Maria, was an actress who struggled with singing and dancing at the same time. It didn’t help that director and choreographer Jerome Robbins was such a perfectionist. He made Wood practice 16 hours every day. But not just her; Robbins also required his Broadway cast to rehearse for eight weeks straight (the average is four or five).


Photo by Mirisch-7 Arts / United Artists / Kobal / Shutterstock

So, it was his style to set high standards. When it came time to make his movie, he expected the film cast to live up to them. There were also the dancers who participated in each take of the “Cool” number. One dancer caught pneumonia from working outside, while others injured themselves by rehearsing on real street pavement. Those dancers held a ceremony when filming was finally done in which they burned their kneepads.