A Profile of Dancer and Choreographer Bob Fosse

American theatre and film director and choreographer, Bob Fosse (1927 - 1987)

One of the most influential men in jazz dance history, Bob Fosse created a unique dance style that is practiced in dance studios throughout the world. His amazing choreography continues to live on through several great Broadway musicals such as "Cabaret", "Damn Yankees" and "Chicago."

Early Life of Bob Fosse

Robert Louis "Bob" Fosse was born on June 23, 1927, in Chicago, Illinois. Fosse was one of six children and grew up surrounded by dance and theater. At the age of 13, he teamed up with another young dancer, Charles Grass. The talented couple toured throughout Chicago theaters as "The Riff Brothers." A couple of years later, Fosse was hired to star in a show called "Tough Situation" which toured a number of military and naval bases. Fosse believed that he perfected his performance technique during his time with the show.

Dance Career of Bob Fosse

After taking years of acting classes, Fosse moved to Hollywood to begin a film career. He appeared in several films including "Give A Girl A Break", "The Affairs of Dobie Gillis" and "Kiss Me Kate." Fosse's film career was cut short due to premature baldness, so he turned to choreography. In 1954 he successfully choreographed "The Pajama Game." Fosse went on to direct five feature films, including "Cabaret", which won eight Academy Awards. Under his direction, "All That Jazz" won four Academy Awards, earning Fosse his third Oscar nomination.

Dance Style of Bob Fosse

Fosse's unique jazz dance style was stylish, sexy, and easily recognized. After growing up in cabaret nightclubs, the nature of Fosse's signature style was sexually suggestive. Three of his dance trademarks included turned-in knees, sideways shuffling, and rolled shoulders.

Honors and Achievements of Bob Fosse

Fosse received many awards during his lifetime, including eight Tony Awards for choreography, and one for direction. He won an Academy Award for his direction of "Cabaret," and was nominated three other times. He received a Tony Award for "Pippin" and "Sweet Charity" and an Emmy for "Liza with a 'Z'." In 1973, Fosse became the first person to win all three awards during the same year.

Fosse died at the age of 60 on September 23, 1987, moments before the start of a revival of "Sweet Charity." The biographical movie "All That Jazz" portrays his life and pays tribute to his many contributions to jazz dance.