Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Do you recognize the name? Probably you've heard it, if you are interested in theater or show biz -- and who isn't?

Doesn't every child, at some point, dream of being an actor or actress?

Okay, maybe today's kids have a variation on it -- a bigger dream of being a Rock-Pop, TV, Movie, Internet, Songster-Dancer-Actor.

Fosse was a director-choreographer, movie-maker whose ideas and feel for movement was his vision, his steps and gyrations that I call the "BOB FOSSE STYLE."

There are others who inspired the Fosse style -- Jerome Robbins,, Gower Champion, Jack Cole, and others, who've had their style, their feeling in their muscles, and knew how to build, expand, ignite a sequence into a knock-you-out, take-your-breath-away, whamo! wow! socko! climatic tiptop, over-the-top photo finish!

I have to mention Busby Berkeley; Fred Astaire has to be included, and Gene Kelley (though he didn't take my breath away), but the Fosse style is S-E-X -- hips, torso, pelvis, leggy-snakey-octopus limbs, plus a shimmying, gyrating torso -- the stripteaser's relentlessly seductive embrace -- making-love, love-making with you, without actually touching you.

Bob Fosse could do it, did it again and again in show after show -- it's an astounding list of hit shows. I won't bother listing them, or showing you bits of the film, "All That Jazz,"-- his over-the-top, excessive, on the verge of boring, fabulous, fantastically original, non-stop inventive movie scenes -- you can see it for yourself better on a CD or on You Tube.

"Bye-bye Life" -- Roy Scheider, Ben Vereen with electric dancers surrounding them -- it's a film story-adventure experience. If you were saying goodbye, and you knew that you were about to die, what would you do -- what would you sing -- reach for -- touch -- cuddle -- grasp?

Bob Fosse was daring, and created from his own experiential view of sex, orgasm, drugged ecstasy, exultation and fear. I can't get his images, bits, and elements of them, out of my mind.

"All That Jazz" -- all that it means -- like it or not -- Fosse's ART speaks to me.


Anonymous said...

As an eighties baby, I had quite a variety of music to choose from. I'm not a dancer, I don't sing, or play any instrument. I'm not a gay man, I'm actually a married young mom. My house was full always of music, and more specifically musicals. The name Fosse didn't even occur to me as being a person until he was pointed out dancing with Gwen Verdon in Damn Yankees. Then at some point in the last few years, in watching A Chorus Line, it was pointed out that Christine Evelyn Erlich was in fact played by his daughter (and Ms.Verdons), Nicole. He's in a way like Elvis in the fifties...or Steven Tyler in the seventies and eighties. Like many of the great artists, dance or otherwise, Fosse had the gift and the desire to share his passion with the audience. So many people get on a stage and it's obvious they're no more interested in you than they would be the man in the moon. A good performer has not only the ability, but has the DESIRE to share the fun! I can't say if he was secretly sending crowds into multiple orgasms in every performance, but the appeal, the ignition of life that was sparked in watching him, or anything he was responsible for, is a feat that not many have met. Not many can...hence why there will always be that one person that just works. I'm too shy to be a rock star running around the stage in a string bikini...but I'm human...of course there's a part of me that sees the lime light and wants some. ;)

Bobbie Horowitz said...

Have you thought of writing a history of the musical? This post is exquisite. I just realized who a young lady in the Burlesque/Vaudeville troupe (The love Show) my son works with, reminds me of. She looks like she'd be a Fosse dancer. Thank you Emily!

Carolyn Kalmus said...

Em, may I suggest that everyone who has adored Bob's choreography and direction needs to go to YouTube and check out the many Dancers Over 40 video clips on Bob discussed by the men and woman who danced for him. Lots and lots of wonderful stories and more. (Type in "Dances Over 40 Bob Fosse")
For example - watch Carolyn Kirsch and Penny Worth (Velma and Roxie in CHICAGO's first national tour) recreate their roles of 30+ years ago:

Maryann Maisano said...

Em you have touched a nerve again !!
Fosse is my FAVVVVVVVVVV. I was always so enthralled by his work and the dance was like never before. I remember going to see Chicago and much to my surprise both Bebe Neuwirth and Ann Reinking were in it.. WOWOWOWOWOWO.
I saw the play again like 6 months later wit Bebe in it again and Mary Lou Henner. Mary Lou was not that bad until she shared the stage with Bebe, then u noticed it all.
The lack of fluidity - the tightness in her moves as apposed to Bebe.. Fosse was KING.

Linda Phillips said...

Bob Fosse, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways!

I love thee for Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, Sweet Charity, New Girl in Town, Pippin, Chicago, Redhead, Bells Are Ringing, How to Succeed in Business, Liza With a Z, Dancin', Kiss Me Kate, My Sister Eileen, Cabaret,Lenny and All That Jazz.

I love thee for influencing my wonderful dance teacher Dick Andros when I studied with him for 5 years, as a teenager.

I love thee for changing the look of dance forever. I love thee for helping to make Gwen Verdon and Ann Reinking the stars that they were and are.

I love thee for giving me some of my greatest joys as an audience.

I love thee for being the very best choreographer of stage and screen that ever was!!!!!

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