On Monday, March 26th Dancers over 40 hosted a celebration of the 40th-anniversary of Bob Fosse’s DANCIN’. The sold-out event included a panel discussion by the original Broadway cast, a second panel comprised many of the show’s replacement performers, guest appearances by other Fosse veterans (host Bebe Neuwirth, surprise guest Ben Vereen, etc.), the LaDuca Lifetime Achievement Award (to Ann Reinking), and a magical performance of “I Wanna Be A Dancin’ Man.” Thank you to all who participated and came out to celebrate this incredible production and the dancers who brought the choreography to life. (For more photos, visit the Dancers over 40 Facebook page)
DANCIN’ opened on Broadway on March 27, 1978, and ran a very successful four years, and was Bob Fosse’s only all-dancing and all-singing musical. To mark this historic event, Dancers Over 40 will assemble a spectacular “once-in-a-lifetime” panel of original cast members for the 40th anniversary (almost exactly to the day of their 1978 debut) on March 26, 2018, at St. Luke’s Theater.
The anniversary celebration will feature video clips as well as live performances from DANCIN’ (Percussion 1 & 3, with assistance from the Verdon/Fosse Legacy). Celebrating with us will be original cast members Gail Benedict, Sandahl Bergman, Wayne Cilento, Christine Colby, Jill Cook, Linda Haberman, Rickard Korthaze, Ann Reinking, William Whitener and Fosse DANCIN’ assistant and long-time DO40 member, Kathryn Doby. There will be two panels, the first being the reunion with original cast members, moderated by author, theater historian – and now a documentary filmmaker – Ken Bloom (Broadway Musicals: The 101 Greatest Shows of all Time and the upcoming documentary on Gwen Verdon). The second panel will be hosted by Kevin Winkler and include cast replacements from DANCIN’ and other Fosse dancers, including Eileen Casey, Dana Moore, Lloyd Culbreath and Diana Laurenson. Also, mention must be made of those talents we have lost, including DO40 founding member John Mineo, as well as Rene Ceballos, Chris Chadman, Ed Love and Charles Ward.
Dancers Over 40 is an all-volunteer, membership-driven non-profit arts organization dedicated to preserving the history, legacy, and lives of our mature creative community while sharing the knowledge with the younger generation, particularly dancers just beginning their careers.
The Verdon Fosse Legacy was invited to reconstruct “I Wanna Be A Dancin’ Man” on the pre-professional students of the Steps on Broadway Conservatory Program. Veteran Fosse dancer and Legacy-sanctioned reconstructeur, Lloyd Culbreath, taught the piece with the help of his assistant, Marissa Calabrese, and vocal coach, Jan Horvath (also a veteran Fosse performer).
Bob Fosse choreographed “I Wanna Be A Dancin’ Man” as a tribute to his own personal dance icon, Fred Astaire. As the Act II opener from 1978’s musical revue, DANCIN,’ “Dancin’ Man” honors the charm and elegance of Astaire and celebrates the golden age of the Hollywood musical. But the ensemble production number also highlights a poignant, universal sentiment that lies at the heart of every dancer—despite all of the sacrifices (physical, emotional, professional), the dancer loves to Continue reading
This month our very own Valarie Pettiford (Big Deal, DANCIN’, Fosse) traveled to Amsterdam to teach at the Lucia Marthas Institute for the Performing Arts. LMIPA is a university-like program that offers Bachelor’s Degrees, Intermediate Degrees, and preliminary courses in the performing arts: acting, singing, and dancing.
Earlier this year, Sigrid van Coillie visited New York with some of her LMIPA students and took a “Sing! Sing! Sing!” master class with Valarie. “Even in that first class,” Val remembers, “the students knew all about Bob and were familiar with his technique and style. They were overjoyed to have me really ‘work’ them!” says Valarie. After such a great experience, Sigrid invited Val to teach about twenty of LMIPA’s 4th year students for their graduation performance concert.
Valarie taught a medley of “Crunchy Granola Suite” (DANCIN’), “Dancin’ Man” (DANCIN’), and “I Gotcha” (“Liza with a Z”). “The number was only allotted a certain number of minutes,” Val explains, “so I was forced to cut down some of the choreography—which pains me to do. But the [Verdon Fosse] Estate granted me the liberty to abridge some of the numbers and also add more dancers to the piece.”
“This was a great experience for me, as well,” notes Val. “I liken it to when I was the dance captain for Big Deal. It’s a lot of responsibility to know everyone’s counts and movements and positions on stage. I had the time of my life teaching these incredible students. They were so willing and present. This experience reminded me why I’m in showbiz, why I love to teach, and why I’m so honored to pass on the torch of Fosse choreography.”
“It’s actually no surprise to me that Fosse is so popular abroad,” admits Val. “Fosse choreography is magical both to watch and to dance! The man was fierce and there was no one like him. Performing that work changes you as a human. It excites you and touches your core. Everybody ‘gets’ it and can relate to it for some reason. Fosse was a force to be reckoned with and I think that’s why he remains so popular all over the world.”
Thank you to Lucia Marthas, Sigrid Van Coillie, James Van Der Velden, Rich Ascroft, Jessica Schots, Roemjana, Steve Jones, Lloyd Culbreath, Valarie Pettiford, Nicole Fosse, and everyone else who made this possible.
Thank you to the small but mighty group of dancers who braved the cold and danced with us this month in our February Master Class. The dancers learned “Dancin’ Man” (a duet version that Bob and Gwen performed on the Gary Moore show in 1958), revisited “Trumpet Solo” from Dancin’, and even tackled a bit of “Crunchy Granola Suite” from Dancin’ for good measure.
We hope you’ll join us for our next week of classes March 16-20. E-mail email@example.com for more information.
Our first master class kicked off the new year with great dancing and great energy. Hinton Battle and Ann Reinking led the classes and were assisted by Lloyd Culbreath, Valarie Pettiford, and Dana Moore. The Verdon Fosse Legacy would like to thank all of the talented dancers who joined us this past week. We hope you will come dance with us next month (the week of February 16th) for another exciting reconstruction of Bob Fosse’s choreography. To join our e-mail blast contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tony and Olivier Award-winning dancer and choreographer, Ann Reinking appeared on Broadway in Coco, Wild and Wonderful, Over Here! (Theatre World Award), Goodtime Charley, A Chorus Line, and Tommy Tune Tonite!. Her credits for Mr. Fosse include Pippin, Chicago, DANCIN’, and Sweet Charity. She also starred in feature films such as Annie, Micki + Maude, and Fosse’s All That Jazz. Ms. Reinking later revived Chicago in 1996, recently celebrated as the longest running American musical. In 1998 Ms. Reinking co-created, co-directed, co-choreographed, and starred in the musical revue, Fosse. Aside from performing, Ms. Reinking has served as choreographer for Broadway, concerts, and TV, founded the professional training program: the Broadway Theater Project, and advocated for the National Marfan Foundation.
Three-time Tony Award-winner, Hinton Battle made his Broadway debut at age fifteen starring in the role of the Scarecrow in The Wiz. He went on to perform in many other Broadway shows like Sophisticated Ladies, Ragtime, Dreamgirls, The Tap Dance Kid, Miss Saigon, Chicago, and Fosse’s DANCIN’ and tour of Sweet Charity. Mr. Battle’s on-screen credits include dancing for The Kennedy Center’s 25th Anniversary, choreographing and starring as Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson in ABC/Disney’s Child Star: The Shirley Temple Story, playing the role of Wayne opposite Jamie Foxx in the movie musical Dreamgirls, and working as associate choreographer on the 65th and 66th Annual Academy Awards with Debbie Allen, just to name a few. He has directed and choreographed for stage, TV, and film, and recently returned from sold-out performances of Hinton Battle’s American Variety Bang II and will return to Japan in 2015 to launch the Hinton Battle Dance Academy and to write, direct, choreograph, and star in his third American Varity Bang.
Broadway World sat down with Broadway veterans, Lloyd Culbreath (DANCIN;’ BIG DEAL; SOPHISTICATED LADIES; THE TAP DANCE KID; HONKY TONK NIGHTS; ANYTHING GOES; GUYS AND DOLLS; CHITA RIVERA: THE DANCER’S LIFE; NO STRINGS, Encores; HOUSE OF FLOWERS, Encores; CARNIVAL, Encores; PROMISES, PROMISES, Encores; MAN OF LA MANCHA, Asst. Choreo.; ON THE TOWN, Asst. Choreo.) and Valarie Pettiford (TV/Film actress; CHICAGO, as Velma, London with Chita Rivera; SHOW BOAT Revival Tour, Julie; 30th Anniversary Tour of WEST SIDE STORY, Anita; SOPHISTICATED LADIES; GRIND; BIG DEAL; FOSSE, Tony Nominee), to discuss their efforts to preserve Bob Fosse’s legendary choreography for the next generation of dancers. The pair held an exclusive Fosse Workshop in early February and invited fifty professional dancers to learn the signature style and articulation of Fosse choreography. Nicole Fosse, the Director and Artistic Advisor for the Verdon Fosse Estate, remarked, “I want this current generation of working dancers to get the best possible people teaching them my father’s material. There are so many false impressions out there of what my father’s style and technique is…By using Estate sanctioned teachers, I feel a new generation of dancers will have a much cleaner understanding of performing Fosse material.” Continue reading