BDC Brings Fosse to Life in Fosse Master Classes

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.

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Dana Moore teaching BDC students

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jazz or musical theatre classes, the Verdon Fosse instructors impart not only steps and technique but also anecdotes, historical references and imagery that further inform the storytelling and execution of Fosse’s choreography.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.

It’s Showtime Folks: Fosse Week @ BDC

Mimi Quillin teaching “Big Spender”

Last week Broadway Dance Center was honored to host our first Fosse Week, a full five days of theatre master classes taught by veteran Fosse dancers who have been sanctioned by the Verdon Fosse Estate. The prestigious faculty included Mimi Quillin, Dana Moore, Lloyd Culbreath, BDC’s own Diana Laurenson, as well as a special appearance by Nicole Fosse. The lucky participants who signed-in early (the classes maxed out every day) learned some of Bob Fosse’s legendary technique, style, and repertoire in pieces such as “Big Spender” (Sweet Charity), “Dancin’ Man” (Dancin’), “I Love a Piano” (The Ed Sullivan Show), “Cool Hand Luke” (The Ed Sullivan Show), and “Tijuana Breakfast” (The Ed Sullivan Show).

Bob Fosse’s signature style is everywhere – from Broadway shows to MTV.  Fosse’s is probably the most imitated choreography…ever.  Have you seen Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” music video?  Many say that Fosse’s “Tijuana Breakfast” inspired her stylized choreo.  Not to mention Bey’s “Get Me Bodied” music video which was obviously taking from Fosse’s “Rich Man’s Frug.”  And how about the King of Pop?  Watch a clip of Fosse’s “Snake in the Grass” followed by Michael Jackson’s performance of “Billy Jean.”  If Beyonce’s the “Queen” and Michael Jackson’s the “King,” what does that make their inspiration, Bob Fosse?

Given Fosse’s legendary influence on the world of dance, it was truly incredible to learn some of his original choreography from his own dancers.  Mimi, Diana, Dana, and Lloyd each told tips and anecdotes from their experience working with Bob.  Even though Bob Fosse is no longer with us, his aura lives on.

Bonnie Erickson, Director of Educational Programming at BDC, said,“We’re so honored to present this work and so happy that it was such a rousing success. At BDC we’re so dedicated to preserving this epic work and making sure to pass it along to younger dancers. Can’t wait for the next set of workshops!”

Yes, you read that right. Stay tuned for another magical Fosse Week at Broadway Dance Center in the new year!