HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY BOB FOSSE!

Celebrate with us the 90th birthday of an American dance theatre and film performance icon Robert Louis “Bob” Fosse born June 23, 1927.

Pictured above is a never before seen candid photograph from the Verdon Fosse Legacy LLC archives featuring Bob Fosse backstage in the acclaimed 1963 musical Pal Joey dressing room at City Center wearing terrycloth robe. Having verso glue residue and ink handwritten annotation reading “Pal Joey” measuring 7 1/2 x 8 inches overall. 

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Happy Birthday to the “Father of Jazz Dance,” Jack Cole April 27, 1911

Jack Cole (originally John Ewing Richter) was born on April 27th, 1911 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Following his parents’ divorce, Cole ran away from home to study dance with Rush St. Denis and Ted Shawn. He quickly joined the Denishawn Company and also performed with the Humphrey-Weidman Group before leaving the modern dance world to pursue a commercial dance career.

Cole choreographed for the nightclub scene, Broadway stage, and silver screen throughout the mid-twentieth century. He founded a troupe of twelve dancers (which included the likes of Gwen Verdon, Carol Haney, and Matt Mattox) to serve as the core ensemble in much of his highly technical work. Some of Cole’s Broadway choreography credits included ALIVE AND KICKING (1950), KISMET (1962), A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM (1962), and MAN OF LA MANCHA (1965). In Hollywood, Cole worked on such iconic films as “On The Riviera” (1951), “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” (1953), and “Some Like It Hot” (1959) and coached starlets like Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Jane Russell, Mitzi Gaynor, and Betty Grable.

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Mimi in Milan, Fosse Master Class in Italy, 2017

Last month Mimi Quillin visited Milan, Italy and was welcomed to teach at the Centro Danzaricerca.  The studio, owned and operated by Agnese Riccatelli, was founded over thirty years ago and their students are currently in the finals of “Italy’s Got Talent.”  Mimi taught the Bob Fosse’s iconic “Rich Man’s Frug” from SWEET CHARITY, for which she served as dance captain and assistant to Bob and Gwen for the 1986 Broadway revival.

Mimi and Centro Danzaricerca owner, Agnese Riccatelli

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A nod to our Verdon Fosse Dance Reconstructeurs. . .

Through the Bob Fosse Master Class Series, Legacy-sanctioned reconstructeurs teach style, technique, and work ethic to students at dance studios and colleges across the United States and the world.  Our goal is to reconstruct—rather than revive, restage, or re-imagine—Bob Fosse’s choreography with the original intent and integrity.

This month, we’re honoring four of the Legacy’s core reconstructeurs: Lloyd Culbreath, Dana Moore, Valarie Pettiford, and Mimi Quillin.

Lloyd Culbreath Broadway/national tour credits include DANCIN’, SOPHISTICATED LADIES, THE TAP DANCE KID, BIG DEAL, SWEET CHARITY, HONKY TONK NIGHTS, KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN, GUYS AND DOLLS, ANYTHING GOES, ON THE TOWN (Assistant Choreographer), MAN OF LA MANCHA (Assistant Choreographer), CHICAGO (Dance Captain) and CHITA RIVERA: THE DANCER’S LIFE. Lloyd teaches at the June Claire Dance Center of Long Island.

Dana Moore Broadway/national tour credits include A CHORUS LINE, SWEET CHARITY, DANCIN’, ON YOUR TOES, THE WILL ROGERS FOLLIES, HOW TO SUCCEED…, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, DANGEROUS GAMES, SUGAR BABIES, COPPERFIELD, CHICAGO, FOSSE, and FALSETTOS.  Film credits include The Producers: the Movie Musical, Woody Allen’s Everyone Says I Love You, and the PBS special of FOSSE. Dana is a Musical Theatre faculty member at Marymount Manhattan College and teaches Theatre Dance at Steps on Broadway.

Valarie Pettiford Broadway/national tour credits include: SOPHISTICATED LADIES, BIG DEAL, DANCIN’, SWEET CHARITY, GRIND, WEST SIDE STORY, SHOWBOAT, CHICAGO, and FOSSE (Tony, Drama League, and Outer Critics nominee). Recent TV credits include “Half and Half” (3 NAACP Image nominations), “Being Mary Jane,” “Black-ish,” “True Blood,” “Born Again Virgin,” “Treme,” “Criminal Minds,” “CSI,” and “The Blacklist.” Film credits include “Jumping the Broom,” “Glitter,” and “Stomp the Yard.” Valarie is an NAACP Winner for best actress in the LA production of Michael John La Chuisa’s THE WILD PARTY as Queenie. She is a Bistro winner for the Cabaret Debut at the Metropolitan Room. She can be seen touring with her sold-out one women show around the country and has two CDs available on iTunes.

Mimi Quillin Broadway/national tour credits include the 1986 revival of SWEET CHARITY (Assistant Choreographer/Dance Captain), RAGTIME, and AIN’T BROADWAY GRAND. She recently won “Best Production” at the 2016 United Solo Festival for her one-woman show, “Call Fosse at the Minskoff.” Mimi continues to teach and choreograph for dance companies, theatres, and colleges across the country.

Request our reconstructeurs to teach at your university or studio or to speak at your event by e-mailing theverdonfosselegacy@gmail.com.

A caricature is worth a thousand words

American caricaturist, Al Hirschfeld, created a number of iconic black-and-white cartoons of Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon chronicling their Broadway careers.  Hirschfeld would publish his portraits of dancers, singers, and actors prior to a new Broadway show’s opening night.  Below are several caricatures from The Al Hirschfeld Foundation.

DAMN YANKEES 1955

NEW GIRL IN TOWN 1957

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56th Wedding Anniversary! Celebrating the Nuptials of Gwen Verdon & Bob Fosse

Celebrate with us today the 56th wedding anniversary of bride Gwen Verdon and groom Bob Fosse married on April 3rd 1960!

In the early spring of 1960 while their Broadway show ”Redhead” was on tour in Fosse’s home city of Chicago, Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse married, and by the time the tour reached Los Angeles, Verdon decided to retire from show business with the intention of concentrating on family life. In 1963 their daughter, Nicole, was born.

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Pictured is undated self Polaroid camera portrait from the Verdon Fosse Legacy archives, appears to be from the early 1960s, measuring 3 by 4 inches overall.

RIP Shannon Bolin

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Ray Walston, Robert Shafer, and Shannon Bolin in the 1958 film “Damn Yankees”

The Verdon Fosse Legacy mourns the death of Shannon Bolin (1/1/17-3/25/16).  Bolin starred as Meg (wife of Joe Boyd) in the original 1955 Broadway production of DAMN YANKEES and revived the role in the 1958 film version.

NY Times: Shannon Bolin, 99, Actress Who Starred in ‘Damn Yankees,’ Dies

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Shannon Bolin and Nicole Fosse (with sons Noah and Leif) at the 2008 NY City Center opening night of DAMN YANKEES 

The VerdonFosse Legacy lives on

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Last Wednesday Dancers over 40 hosted “All That Verdon! All That Fosse!” and it was a truly spectacular evening.  We’d like to extend our thanks to all of the panelists for sharing their stories, questions, discussions, video clips, and talents and for celebrating and promoting the legacy of Gwen Verdon and Bob Fosse.  Thank you also, of course, to John Sefakis and Dancers over 40 for making the event possible and to Nel Shelby Productions for videography and film editing.  It takes a village to keep a legacy alive.  And this event proved that the legacy is alive and kicking!

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Dana Moore, Lloyd Culbreath, and Valarie Pettiford

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Pam Sousa, Nicole Fosse, Gene Foote, Kathryn Doby, and Diane Laurenson

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Ken Urmston, John Sefakis, Dick Korthaze, Harvey Evans, and George Marcy

“All That Verdon! All That Fosse!” event with Dancers over 40

On March 23rd Dancers over 40 will be hosting an evening entitled “All That Verdon! All That Fosse!”  The event will focus on the past, present, and future of the Verdon Fosse Legacy.  Panelists include Nicole Fosse, Lloyd Culbreath, Kathryn Doby, Harvey Evans, Gene Foote, Richard Korthaze, Diane Laurenson, George Marcy, Dana Moore, Valarie Pettiford, Mimi Quillin, Pam Sousa, Ken Urmston.  A few of our master class students will discuss their participation and experience learning and reconstructing Bob’s choreography.  Finally, authors Kevin Winkler and John Gilvey will discuss their respective books-in-progress, Big Deal: Bob Fosse and Dance in the American Musical and Brains and Talent: The Life and Allure of Legendary Entertainer Gwen Verdon.

“All That Verdon! All That Fosse!” is sure to be a spectacular event of talent, story-telling, video clips, and special performances.  Thank you to John Sefakis and Dancers over 40 for helping to organize and orchestrate this evening.

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“All That Verdon! All That Fosse!” will take place Wednesday, March 23rd at 7pm at St. Luke’s Theatre (308 W. 46th Street).  For tickets, visit www.telecharge.com.