“The time to sing is when your emotional level is too high to just speak anymore, and the time to dance is when your emotions are just too strong to only sing about how you feel.”- Bob Fosse, 1957.
I’d like to think there isn’t a person out there who doesn’t know who this amazing man was. A dancer, actor, choreographer, director, screen writer, film editor. You name it, the man has done it and done it all extremley well, making him an Oscar, Tony, Olivier, BAFTA and Drama Desk award winner. But what makes him such a success? That Fosse dance style that is still so incredibly popular?
Those of us out there who strive for perfection and look into and beyond creativity will look on this gentleman with the utmost respect. When one is searching for that “new” idea, that ground breaking design or simply the essence of a style to change the world: Bob Fosse did it! And that’s exactly what has made him such success.
I guess it comes to light even more nowadays, with the high tech things that go on in the world of musical theatre, that a piece like Chicago, or Fosse the show really go back to basics and allow us to see the simplicity of the art of dance again.
Bob Fosse was a hard working, devoted perfectionist, making his big break in Hollywood. But due to his balding head at a fairly early age, the film industry quickly turned away from his performing, pushing him to the direction of choreography.
Even though the Fosse style is a very sexual one, the truth of the matter is, Bob Fosse didn’t find himself very sexy at all. The use of the the bowler hat was to cover the fact that he didn’t have much hair. The jazz hands were covered with white gloves, as apparently he hated his hands. The turned in knees and high shoulders helped cover up his awkward stature.
PIPPIN revival with Bob Fosse spirit
The Fosse style is probably the most recreated styles ever in dance and with the help of his wife, the fabulous Gwen Verdon (Damn Yankees, Can-Can, Red Head) and the wonderful Ann Reinking (All that Jazz, Annie, Chicago) his legend lives on. The exciting news now of course, is that we are approaching the next Fosse revival, PIPPIN, which makes me very excited. It was a huge hit when it first opened on Broadway in 1972, running for nearly 2000 performances. Forty-one years on, Diane Paulus will direct and original cast member Chet Walker will choreograph this master piece with music written by Stephen Schwartz.
“I think that he was a very misunderstood person. I think that people that are misunderstood keep trying to be heard or understood. And he never gave up on that. That is what makes someone great – they don’t settle on what other people think that they are. They are constantly searching – constantly exploring the possibilities. I think that people that keep moving forward are great artists. I remember five minutes before his passing, he was still coming up with ideas. What if we did this… what if we could? That is someone who is open and always wanting to make things better.” (Chet Walker on Bob Fosse.)