Monday, May 27, 2024

Bob Fosse in his Prime


I know very little about dancing but there are certain dancers that I immediately and instinctively like. Fred Astaire for his smoothness and grace, Gene Kelly for his explosive athleticism, James Cagney for his compact power, these are the main three that come to mind.

I’ve seen Bob Fosse as subject of the movie “All That Jazz”, about a dance legend turned choreographer, but had never him do any actual dancing in his prime. 

Then I stumbled across this song and dance video from the 1953 movie “The Affairs of Dobie Gillis “ with Bob Fosse, Debbie Reynolds, Bobby Van, and Barbara Ruick. Keep your eye on Fosse, in the sweater with white socks.

The whole clip is just fun to watch but Fosse is on another level here, so explosive and athletic, similar in my mind to Gene Kelly but with a smaller frame and (to me it seems) more movement in his extremities. 

He just moves differently than everyone other dancer, ever. Truly one of a kind.

He moved pretty quickly after that into choreography on Broadway, and his list of awards is pretty extensive:

He transitioned into directing and choreographing musical works including the stage musicals winning Tony Awards for The Pajama Game (1954), Damn Yankees (1955), Redhead (1959), Little Me (1963), Sweet Charity (1966), Pippin (1972), Dancin' (1978), and Big Deal (1986). He also worked on Bells Are Ringing (1956), New Girl in Town (1958), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1961), and Chicago (1975).