Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,
Perhaps you already recognized elements of Bob Fosse's choreography before I started writing this series of posts, or you might have noticed certain moves in the sequences I've posted from Damn Yankees and Cabaret.
Here's what Fosse Style is to me:
thrusts, considered quite sexually suggestive at the time
tiny movements filled with meaning
smooth, including the snapping of fingers
looks simple but it ain't
the tiny movements suddenly become gigantic--huge kicks, big turns, jumps
jazz hands or cupped hands
sometimes white socks revealed noticeably above black shoes
If you noticed something that I missed, please tell us in your comment.
Now, take a look––if you like––at Ben Vereen and cast performing "Glory" in Pippin:
Bob Fosse directed and choreographed Pippin, which premiered in 1972. Fosse won Tony Awards for Best Direction of a Musical and Best Choreography.
Something else about Fosse style: Each move has to do with the plot and the character. If you've seen the entire movie of Cabaret, you know that every song and dance interspersed between the characters' actions has something to do with them and their story.
Now I'd like to show you one of my favorite numbers. From the 1957 movie The Pajama Game, Carol Haney performs "Steam Heat" with Buzz Miller and Kenneth LeRoy:
"Steam Heat" introduced America to Fosse style when he choreographed it for the stage in 1954––his first job as a choreographer, for which he won the Tony Award for Best Choreography––and he recreated the choreography for the film. *see note
When Bob Fosse died in 1987, his widow, Gwen Verdon, and his partner, Ann Reinking, kept his work alive.
When I started this series on Fosse and Verdon, Birgit of BB Creations pointed out that we can still see Fosse's influence in Michael Jackson's dancing. We should also include Beyoncé and Single Ladies.
Michael, you were creepy, but I ask that you dance us out today so we can see how Fosse style evolved in your work.
Infinities of love,
*note: Carol Haney was ill and had to be hospitalized while making the film of The Pajama Game. Supposedly, her work wasn't up to par. If she wasn't at her best in that movie, then I can't even imagine what her best looked like.