Friday, November 30, 2007

Weekend Video - Fosse

The most electrifying dance I ever saw was a 1999 performance of "Cool Hand Luke" - a piece Bob Fosse originally created in 1968 for Gwen Verdon to perform on the Bob Hope Special. (Got all that?) I had given up any hope of seeing the piece again until thanks to the miracle of You Tube - I found not just one but two clips - each only viewed by about 300 people! The first is from an un-named and un-located rehearsal, and in spite of the mildly shaky camera work I like the rawness of this rendition. The second is from a t.v. recording of the Broadway musical "Fosse".

Bob Fosse died young (age 60), and while his choreography and trademark turned-in, finger-snapping style created a bridge between modern dance and Broadway, the more time passes the more it looks like high art.

Fosse became a choreographer when premature baldness ended his career as an actor and dancer, and apparently his trademark use of hats as props came from his self-consciousness about his own appearance. He had an interesting life, remaining married to Gwen Verdon long after they separated and through his relationships with Ann Reinking and Jessica Lange. As a film-maker he was also no slouch. His 1979 "All That Jazz" won four Academy Awards and was nominated for Best Picture and Best Director. Fosse's last film "Star 80", a 1983 biopic of Dorothy Stratton got mixed critical reaction at the time (although Richard Schickel of Time and Rex Reed gave it rave reviews) but has since acquired a strong cult following.


Lizzy said...

Here is a bad copy of Gwen Verdon performing it on the Bob Hope Special:

Lizzy said...

I hope someone makes an incredible documentary of Gwen Verdon's best work. The sooner the better!