Did you catch the premiere of FX’s new limited series, Fosse/Verdon, on Tuesday night? The eight-part series chronicles the creative and complicated relationship of renowned Broadway power couple, Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon. Fosse was a Hollywood hoofer turned award-winning director and choreographer, known for such shows as Chicago, Sweet Charity and Pippin, and films including All that Jazz, Star 80 and Lenny.
His wife, muse and artistic partner, Verdon, began as a dancer and assistant to Jack Cole. She went on to star in a host of Broadway shows (many of them directed and choreographed by Fosse) and kept her late husband’s legacy alive through the 1999 Broadway revue, Fosse.
Last week Broadway Dance Center was honored to host our first Fosse Week, a full five days of theatre master classes taught by veteran Fosse dancers who have been sanctioned by the Verdon Fosse Estate. The prestigious faculty included Mimi Quillin, Dana Moore, Lloyd Culbreath, BDC’s own Diana Laurenson, as well as a special appearance by Nicole Fosse. The lucky participants who signed-in early (the classes maxed out every day) learned some of Bob Fosse’s legendary technique, style, and repertoire in pieces such as “Big Spender” (Sweet Charity), “Dancin’ Man” (Dancin’), “I Love a Piano” (The Ed Sullivan Show), “Cool Hand Luke” (The Ed Sullivan Show), and “Tijuana Breakfast” (The Ed Sullivan Show).
Bob Fosse’s signature style is everywhere – from Broadway shows to MTV. Fosse’s is probably the most imitated choreography…ever. Have you seen Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” music video? Many say that Fosse’s “Tijuana Breakfast” inspired her stylized choreo. Not to mention Bey’s “Get Me Bodied” music video which was obviously taking from Fosse’s “Rich Man’s Frug.” And how about the King of Pop? Watch a clip of Fosse’s “Snake in the Grass” followed by Michael Jackson’s performance of “Billy Jean.” If Beyonce’s the “Queen” and Michael Jackson’s the “King,” what does that make their inspiration, Bob Fosse?
Given Fosse’s legendary influence on the world of dance, it was truly incredible to learn some of his original choreography from his own dancers. Mimi, Diana, Dana, and Lloyd each told tips and anecdotes from their experience working with Bob. Even though Bob Fosse is no longer with us, his aura lives on.
Bonnie Erickson, Director of Educational Programming at BDC, said,“We’re so honored to present this work and so happy that it was such a rousing success. At BDC we’re so dedicated to preserving this epic work and making sure to pass it along to younger dancers. Can’t wait for the next set of workshops!”
Yes, you read that right. Stay tuned for another magical Fosse Week at Broadway Dance Center in the new year!