When you think of musicals, do you envision cheesy, wholesome song and dance routines devoid of any innuendo? If this is the case, you probably haven’t seen a Bob Fosse musical. One of the most famous American choreographers in history, Fosse is best known for his work in Cabaret, Chicago, and Damn Yankees.
Fosse himself wasn’t considered a wholesome character, as he loved to partake in drinking, drugs, and smoking, alongside the company of all kinds of women. Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise that many considered his sensual choreography to be too scandalous for TV and Broadway productions. Where did this all begin?
Born into a vaudevillian family in 1927, Bob Fosse took to dancing at a young age. In fact, he was such a talented dancer that he began working the burlesque and vaudeville circuit before he even started high school.
No doubt, the suggestive dance moves of burlesque performers influenced his choreography. His first choreography job involved working with a quartet of fan dancers. His dance career stalled for a few years when he enlisted in the Navy during World War II.
New York City
Once the war was over, Fosse set his sights on New York City and formed a dance troupe with his then-wife, Mary Ann Niles. Performing in both television shows and on the stage, Fosse later moved on to dancing in Broadway shows, including Dance Me a Song.
Fosse Takes Hollywood By Storm
In 1953, Fosse moved to Hollywood and began working as a dancer and choreographer in a variety of movies, including Kiss Me, Kate. However, he soon relocated back to New York to choreograph the Broadway musical, The Pajama Game, which was an overnight sensation. This play earned Fosse his first Tony Award, although he would win several more during his career.
Fosse Earns His Creative Freedom
Following the success of The Pajama Game and Bells Are Ringing, Fosse’s choreography for New Girl in Town was considered so scandalous that the New York police locked the production until they toned it down. Tired of directors censoring his choreography, Fosse decided to take on the role of director as well.
Fosse debuted as a director and choreographer in the 1959 musical, Redhead, which won five different Tony Awards, including Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Musical, Best Costumes, and Best Choreography. However, by taking on additional roles and responsibilities, Fosse’s health began to decline, which certainly wasn’t helped by his drinking, drugging, and chain-smoking habits.
In 1966, Fosse directed and choreographed the 1966 feature film, Sweet Charity, starring Shirley MacLaine. His second film, Cabaret, starring Liza Minnelli was a smash hit in 1973, earning eight Academy Awards.
Despite his film success, Fosse still spent a significant amount of time working on Broadway musicals. Believe it or not, his 1975 debut of Chicago was not a hit immediately. However, just one year later, this play earned ten different Tony Awards and is now one of the longest-running Broadway musicals onstage.
The Modern Ballroom Dance Studio absolutely loves Fosse’s flair for bawdy dance performances, drama, and style. Who couldn’t use a little more swagger in their dance moves? If you want to add some Fosse flair to your own dance moves, sign up for adult dance classes at our Woodbridge dance studio. Not only will you have the time of your life, you’ll be burning tons of calories. Contact our studio today to get started.