Recently, Broadway Dance Center (BDC) hosted its third installment of Fosse Master Classes with instructors from The Verdon Fosse Legacy LLC. Artistic director Nicole Fosse founded the Legacy with a mission to promote, preserve and protect the artistic and intellectual property of Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse. Over the past five years, legacy-sanctioned teachers have been leading master classes throughout New York City, the United States and the globe with the goal to pass on Bob Fosse’s detailed choreography, signature style and essential work ethic to the next generation of dancers.
BDC’s latest Fosse residency — a five-week summer master class series entitled “Fosse on Film” — focused on some of Bob Fosse’s remarkable works shot for the big screen: “Son of a Preacher Man” from Liza with a ‘Z’, “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” from All That Jazz, “Two Lost Souls” from Damn Yankees, and “Steam Heat” and “Once-A-Year Day” from The Pajama Game. Fosse veteran dancers Valarie Pettiford (Fosse Tony nominee, Big Deal, Dancin’), Dana Moore (Fosse, Sweet Charity, Dancin’) and Lloyd Culbreath (Big Deal, Sweet Charity, Dancin’) led this popular series of classes.
“It’s important,” remarks Culbreath, “for younger dancers to study Jerome Robbins, George Faison, Bob Fosse and Michael Kidd.”
“And it’s imperative to pass it on,” adds Moore, “because these styles — especially Fosse’s — have informed every kind of choreography that has come since.”
And unlike your typical jazz or musical theatre classes, the Verdon Fosse instructors impart not only steps and technique but also anecdotes, historical references and imagery that further inform the storytelling and execution of Fosse’s choreography. Additionally, the teachers strive to pass on Fosse and Verdon’s integrity, work ethic and passion through these master classes.
“Bob’s work is very, very specific, focused, structurally intricate and unbelievably musical,” says Culbreath.
“It was so much about detail,” adds Pettiford. “You have to be so clean and so exact. And the only way to get that is through repetition, repetition, repetition.”
“I am a professional dancer in NYC, and though I had done a little bit of Fosse dance in the past, I was excited to work with teachers who were professionally experienced in the style and could provide a personal element,” shares Kaylee Olson, who performed on the Bullets Over Broadway National Tour and Anything Goes National Tour. “The classes taught by Valarie, Lloyd and Dana ended up being incredibly rewarding! These teachers provide knowledge of the style and its mechanics, as well as that personal perspective. In just these five classes, I learned a lot and became more comfortable and capable with the Fosse style of dancing. I enjoyed the classes so much that I ended up attending every single one of them! I can’t wait until the next Fosse Master Class series at BDC.”
“It was absolutely incredible and so humbling to be in the room and learning from the masters of Fosse,” says Andrew Metzgar, who has performed in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, the Bullets Over Broadway National Tour and Shrek National Tour. “Being taught the intention behind the movement and then bringing it to life was absolutely surreal. I’ve been watching this choreography on film for years, and now to be in a studio learning from the originals themselves was just mind-blowing. There aren’t many opportunities nowadays to learn true Fosse rep, and I encourage dancers to run to these master classes at BDC. Fosse dance is total experience — mind, body and soul — and after every class, I felt so fulfilled and honored to have learned the true Fosse style.”
Stay tuned for news of more upcoming Fosse Master Classes at Broadway Dance Center. And for more information about The Verdon Fosse Legacy LLC, visit www.verdonfosse.com.
By Mary Callahan of Dance Informa.