Dance for Musical Theatre: Robert Louis Fosse Essay

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Dance for Musical Theatre: Robert Louis Fosse
*No Works Cited Robert Louis Fosse was born on June 23, 1927 in Chicago, Illinois. He was the son of

a vaudevillian and appropriately enough was born into the theatre. As a child, the art of

dance wasn’t only used as a past time by young Fosse, but rather as a way of gaining

attention from friends and family. From an early age he had already started studying

ballet, tap and acrobatic dance. As Fosse grew up, his talented dancing and

signature showmanship had began molding his future career.

While still a teenager, he performed with a partner as the Riff brothers in vaudeville

and burlesque theaters. Before moving to New York and studying acting at the
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Fosse’s choreographic signature was a formula all his own. “Small groups of dancers

executing sometimes disjointed or torturously slow-motion movements drilled to the lift

of an eyebrow”, was how one dance magazine critic described it. At times he seemed to

take the human body apart and make each piece work separately. The choreographer

/dancer relationship was also different when it came to Fosse. He never taught anything

he didn’t know or research and always gave respect while expecting it in return.

After Pajama Game Fosse found himself in demand by countless Broadway

producers, directors and even choreographers. He worked alongside Abbot again on

Damn Yankees, which was his first of many shows with dance legend Gwen Verdon,

chiefly remembered for her performance “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets”. He also

worked with Judy Holiday on Bells are Ringing and How to Succeed in Business Without

Really Trying with Robert Morse.

While the Choreographer/Producer relationships Fosse had established flourished so

did one of his Choreographer/Dancer relationships. After working on Damn Yankees

with Gwen Verdon she seemed to epitomize his signature movements and emotion.

She had dazzling long legs and double-jointed shoulders, which seemed to flow with

Fosse’s dance steps so easily. From then

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