In tribute to Michael McArthur (1986-2020)

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“It’s hard to think about my future with the Verdon/Fosse Legacy and realize you won’t be alongside me. As the very first protégé, you set the bar extraordinarily high for all those who would follow you. You challenged me. Your exceptional technique as an artist made me a better dancer. Your effortless ability to connect to students made me a better teacher. I felt safe in a studio with you. You always had my back and would never let me fall. When you measure our time together in years, it was just a blip on the radar. But the lessons you have taught me will stay with me a lifetime. Fly high, Michael!” – Alyssa Epstein

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2019 Dance Against Cancer performance at Lincoln Center

“Michael’s character shined even brighter than his dancing. He cared so much about this work and that passion and joy radiated from him whether he was performing, teaching, or rehearsing in the back corner of the studio. I will miss working with him and I will really miss dancing next to him. You know Bob Fosse and Tommy Rall in ‘The Alley Dance?’ That’s how it was dancing with Michael. His talent, charm, and energy inadvertently made you a better dancer. He will always be a part of this Legacy.” – Mary Callahan

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Chita Rivera stops by a rehearsal of “I’m A Brass Band” (performance to honor Debbie Allen at the 2015 NYCDA Gala)

“What can I say that hasn’t been said already…how über talented Michael was—bar none one of the best of the best, dependable, loyal, consummate professional, smart as a whip, kind, funny, sweet, gorgeous…What I could add would take hours. For now, I’ll just say: You were so loved. The world is a lesser place because you are not in it. Rest well, sweet prince.” – Valarie Pettiford

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Exploring Amsterdam while teaching at the Lucia Marthas Institute for the Performing Arts in 2019

“Throughout the course of one’s life as a teacher, there are individuals who really make an impact in your life—who enrich your experience with their presence. Michael was one of those students. For the past eight years, it has been my pleasure to have the opportunity to work with this incredibly talented young man. And in addition to his many gifts, he was such a lovely young man…Kind, funny, caring, and loyal, with such generosity and integrity. He will be greatly missed not only as a dancer but as a friend. I so cherish the many times we spent just enjoying each other’s company. I will hold onto those memories most of all. My heart is broken, but I believe a spirit so full and beautiful will stay with us watching over us all. Love you buddy. Rest peacefully.” — Lloyd Culbreath

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FX Network’s “Fosse/Verdon”

“Broken-hearted I try to put words to my feelings that words cannot seem to express. Michael was undeniably an exceptionally skilled talent as a dancer, teacher, assistant, choreographer, and reconstructeur. However, it was not Michael’s skills nor his talents that drew me to him; it was his authentic humility, kindness, patience, and true empathy that caused me to want to work with him and to spend time with him. It was because of his nature I wanted him to collaborate with our Verdon Fosse Legacy team and theatrical dance family. I am reminded how my father impressed upon me to never delay being with those you care about; never delay saying how much you appreciate someone in your life. Michael was completely present and joyous whether dancing, teaching, choreographing, or simply hanging out. I hope he knew how much I adored and respected him. My father also liked to believe when you get to heaven, you can jump as high as you can imagine and dance as much as you want without tiring or growing old. As much as I try to imagine Michael dancing alongside my father, trying out some new steps, with my mother watching, the signature twinkle in her eye, saying, “Oh isn’t he fabulous!” I can’t deny we, none of us, had him here with us long enough. My deepest condolences to his family, friends, and loved ones. Michael’s absence leaves a gaping hole in our hearts and souls that can only be filled with our laughter, camaraderie, joy, and dancing. Laugh for Michael. Love for Michael. Dance for Michael.” — Nicole Fosse

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Striking a pose during a Fosse Master Class

Michael McArthur (1986-2020)

I wanna be a dancin’ man,

While I can,

Gonna leave my footsteps on the sands of time,

If I never leave a dime.

Never be a millionaire,

I don’t care,

I’ll be rich as old King Midas might have been

Least until the tide rolls in

Let other men build the mighty nations,

Or stairways to the sky,

I’ll leave a few creations

To show that I was a dancin’ by.

I wanna be free as any bird can be, yes siree,

I wanna leave my footsteps on the sands of time,

If I never leave a dime, dime.

A dancin’ man

With footsteps

On the sands…

Of rhythm….and rhyme.

 

 

 

 

 

 

RIP Louis Johnson

The Verdon Fosse Legacy mourns the loss of dancer and choreographer, Louis Johnson. Johnson performed with the New York City Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and in both the stage and screen versions of Bob Fosse’s “Damn Yankees.” RIP Louis.

“Most renowned for his choreography in the timeless film, The Wiz, Johnson was one of the first African Americans to appear in a Broadway ensemble.  Having been featured and learning from some of the dance greats, including Bob Fosse and Jerome Robbins, Johnson began creating his own art in the 1950s.  In addition to commissioning some of his most notable works for the Dance Theatre of Harlem and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, he also received a Tony Award nomination for his choreography in the 1970 musical Purlie.” – Broadway Black

RIP Paula Kelly

Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Paula Kelly, who passed away this week at age 76. Kelly was a tremendous Broadway and Hollywood actress who starred as Helene in Bob Fosse’s film adaptation of “Sweet Charity” (1969).

The incredible trio, “There’s Gotta Be Something Better Than This,” featuring Shirley MacLaine, Chita Rivera, and Paula Kelly was magically captured on film and will continue to inspire dancers and dreamers for years to come.

September at Steps on Broadway

We had an incredible month of master classes at Steps on Broadway with Legacy-sanctioned reconstructeurs including Lloyd Culbreath, Dana Moore, Mimi Quillin, Mary Ann Lamb, Shannon Lewis, Spence Ford, Elizabeth Parkinson, and proteges, Alyssa Epstein and Michael McArthur. Here are some highlights from the classes:

For more information about The Verdon Fosse Legacy and to bring a Fosse Master Class to a city near you, email theverdonfosselegacyllc@gmail.com.

Fosse/Verdon takes home 4 Emmy Awards

FX’s “Fosse/Verdon” scored 4 Emmy Awards during the 2019 awards show presentation including Outstanding Lead Actress (Michelle Williams), Musical Direction (Alex Lacamoire), Hairstyling, and Makeup (non-prosthetic) for a Limited Series.

Nicole Fosse served as co-executive producer and creative consultant for the 8-part critically acclaimed series.

Click here to read Michelle Williams’ show-stopping speech.

Nicole Fosse with “Fosse/Verdon” director, Thomas Kail

 

Stephanie Pope: What Was Bob Fosse Really Like?

by Frank Rizzo
May, 2019

Many fans of Broadway musicals are riveted to the current television mini-series Fosse/Verdon on the FX Network. The eight-episode series, based on the biography Fosse by Sam Wasson and directed by Tommy Kail (Broadway’s Hamilton), follows the lives, careers, and relationships of film, stage, and television director-choreographer Bob Fosse, played by Sam Rockwell, and beloved Tony Award-winning actress-dancer Gwen Verdon, played by Michelle Williams.

Watching the series with particular interest in Stephanie Pope, who is featured in a revival of The Music Man at the Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam. (The run of the musical has been extended to Thursday, June 20.) Pope plays the comic character role of the mayor’s wife, Eulalie Shinn, but she proudly calls herself “a Fosse dancer,” having performed in many of his shows.

I talked with Pope, whom I saw in Fosse’s last original Broadway musical, Big Deal, during its out of town try-out in Boston in 1986. (The show closed shortly after it made it to Broadway, though his choreography earned Fosse his eighth Tony Award.)

In 1987, Pope played Helene in the tour launch of the revival of Sweet Charity, which starred Debbie Allen on Broadway. Fosse and Verdon were readying the company when he collapsed on the street in Washington, D.C. while walking with Verdon from his hotel to the theater where the tour was about to open that night. He died of a massive heart attack later that evening. He was 60.

What was he like that day?

“He rehearsed us like crazy and at the end we all gathered around and he made a speech, saying things like ‘Save your money,’ and things like that. We thought it was kind if an odd speech to give on an opening day.

READ MORE

BWW Review: DANCERS FOR GOOD 2019 Outdoes Itself Again!

“The most touching moment occurred when [Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon’s] grandson, Noah Fosse, who admitted to never getting to meet his grandfather, recalled his grandmother as being his “best friend” and–as a senior citizen–still building forts by toppling the couches in the living room. Thank goodness for (their daughter) Nicole and Noah who continue to honor and promote the Verdon Fosse Legacy! In a titillating trio that displayed exactly why Bob Fosse has maintained such an exalted status, the star of the FX series Fosse/Verdon who played Chita Rivera–Bianca Pamela Marroquin–along with the slinky, sexy dance studs Nicholas de la Vega and Nicholas Sipes, performed the number “I Gotcha” from Liza With a Z that garnered Fosse awards and recognition in his landmark year, 1972. The scintillating threesome brought sizzle to the evening with their red-hot presentation. With her swinging ponytail, long legs, knocked knees and quirky attitude, Marroquin channeled Minelli on stage as flawlessly as she did Rivera on the screen. Mimi Quillin, who worked with Fosse and Verdon, reconstructed the smokin’ dance from a video, which the talented dancers adapted to in almost no time. The two Nicks referred to one of the most thrilling, iconic and challenging signature Fosse moves–the scoot–where they crawl across the stage, stiff upper body, shuffling feet and bent knees (a bit like Voguing but more painful) as “the thigh burner.”

BWW Review: DANCERS FOR GOOD 2019 Outdoes Itself Again!

Incredible dancing for an incredible cause: Dancers for Good

The Verdon Fosse Legacy was honored to partake in the 4th annual Dancers for Good benefit concert in support of The Actors Fund.  The event, held at Guild Hall in East Hampton, was hosted by Cady Huffman (Bob Fosse’s BIG DEAL) and honored Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon for their Lifetime Achievement.  Their middle grandson, Noah Fosse, accepted the honor on behalf of the Verdon Fosse Legacy.  The Legacy also closed the show with a performance of “I Gotcha,” the fun and funky trio from Bob Fosse’s Emmy-winning “Liza with a Z” (1972).  Mimi Quillin reconstructed the piece which starred Bianca Marroquin (Chita Rivera in FX’s “Fosse Verdon), Nicolas de la Vega, and Nicholas Sipes.  It was a magical evening filled with incredible dancing for an incredible cause.  For more information about Dancers for Good, visit www.dancersforgood.org.

 

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Transport Group hosts SWEET CHARITY in concert

On June 17th, The Transport Group presented SWEET CHARITY in concert, celebrating the 1966 Neil Simon, Cy Coleman, Dorothy Fields, Bob Fosse, and Gwen Verdon musical with Broadway performances of song and dance accompanied by a live 23-piece orchestra.

The Verdon Fosse Legacy contributed two reconstructed works for the performance: “Big Spender” (reconstructed by Dana Moore) and “If My Friends Could See Me Now” (reconstructed by Mimi Quillin.

The ladies of “Big Spender” (L to R: Alyssa Epstein, Danelle Morgan, Christine Sienicki, Anna Schnaitter, Kenna Morris Garcia, Lauren Blackman, Naomi Kakuk, Emily Grace Kersey, Kaylee Olson, and Caitlin Abraham)

Jessica Lee Goldyn backstage before “If My Friends Could See Me Now”

Musical direction by Joey Chancey.
Directed by Jack Cummings III.
Hosted by Dana Moore and Mimi Quillin.

Dancers flock to another week of Fosse at Steps on Broadway

The Verdon Fosse Legacy held another wonderful week of Fosse master classes at Steps on Broadway earlier this month.  Classes were taught by Fosse veterans: Spence Ford, Mimi Quillin, and Stephanie Pope.  Take a look at some photos and a short video clip from Stephanie’s class:

 

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram (or email theverdonfosselegacyllc@gmail.com) to stay updated on upcoming master classes.