Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ Comes Home to Broadway

In 1978, Wayne Cilento, then a rising younger Broadway performer, obtained the possibility to attempt to impress Bob Fosse.

Fosse, who died in 1987, was on the time a firmly established legend, greatest recognized for his distinctive jazzy choreography for musicals like The Pajama Game, Damn Yankees, Sweet Charity and Chicago. In a 40-year profession, he gained 9 Tony Awards, three Primetime Emmy Awards and an Academy Award for guiding the movie model of Cabaret.

“I was in The Act with Liza Minnelli,” Cilento instructed Newsweek. “We were rehearsing on one end of the hall and Bob was at the other end doing pre-production.”

Fosse was engaged on a brand new present referred to as Dancin’ and though it had already been solid, Cilento managed to safe an audition with Fosse and his muse and lead dancer, Ann Reinking.

“They started teaching me stuff and he danced with us, and I had a ball,” Cilento remembers. “He looked at me and he shook my hand and he said, ‘Thank you very much. I appreciate you coming in.'”

Cilento says he left considering that was as shut as he’d ever attending to being in a Fosse present, however nonetheless “flying with excitement.”

On the opening night time of The Act, although, Cilento thought he was going to faint when he noticed Fosse in a middle orchestra seat. At a celebration after the premiere, Fosse instructed him, “I want you in the show.” Cilento stayed with The Act at night time whereas becoming a member of Dancin’ rehearsals in the course of the day.

“It was number after number after number in all different styles,” he stated. “Bob at the time was free and he wanted to experiment with dancers. It was like a breath of fresh air.”

The present was not a play, however not fairly a standard musical, both. It was actually Fosse’s private love letter to his artwork, a novel multi-act mixture of music, dance and sketches that could be a tribute to and celebration of dance.

Cilento was in almost each quantity and when the present opened, he earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. Fosse himself scored a Tony for choreography

This March 19, Dancin’ is coming again to Broadway on the Music Box Theatre and Cilento is returning with it, this time as its director. “I think people that are interested in dance or not [will] get a lot out of this,” he says, including this “feel-good” present is “just joy.”

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Left to proper: Dancin’ solid members Kolton Krouse, Ida Saki, Khori Michelle Petinaud, Jacob Guzman and Yani Marin. (Julieta Cervantes)

A Show by Dancers, For Dancers

With Broadway presently virtually “saturated” with revivals, Cilento stated he needed to replace Dancin’ to “make it relevant for today.”

He admits that in the first place, he wasn’t positive how a 45-year-old present would work for 2023 audiences.

“My question to myself was, ‘What would Bob do if he was doing Dancin’ today?” He was so ahead of the curve and with technology and his experience from filmmaking…. How would he approach Dancin’?” he stated.

The authentic manufacturing was structured like a burlesque present with dancers occurring and off stage as an announcer offered every new quantity.

“That stylistic way is not going to work today,” Cilento stated. “I think it needs to move like a film.”

So Cilento drew from Fosse’s movie expertise and put the present on a soundstage, which, he says, opens the potential for the story to “go anywhere.”

At its core, although, Dancin’ stays a present by dancers, for dancers.

Cast member Yani Marin instructed Newsweek dancers do not often get to be the leads in exhibits. They are put within the ensemble and pushed to the again the place they aren’t participating with the plot or the primary solid “as a whole person telling a story.” Not so with Dancin’, she stated. Without a definitive plot line, dancers are the first focus.

“I feel really lucky that the features that have been assigned to me allow me to express myself,” she stated, including that studying and experiencing Fosse has introduced her “joy to a level I had forgotten existed.”

And having an authentic solid member on the workforce made studying choreography simpler for the dancers.

Marin, recognized for her function within the authentic Broadway solid of the 2009 West Side Story revival, says Cilento understands the Fosse choreography “on a whole other level.”

“There’s something there that you can’t teach,” she stated. “It’s just this feel, this essence.”

Dancer Nando Morland instructed Newsweek that Cilento is such a passionate, excited particular person” that is experienced in the show and with Fosse.

“His expertise as a dancer in that point and within the present is so evident in the way in which that he strikes and it is so enjoyable to look at him exhibit,” he said.

Morland, who was in the 2020 Broadway revival of West Side Story and the national tour of Fiddler on the Roof, said he has long-been inspired by the “funk and contortion” of Fosse’s style.

“There’s a lot musicality and spunk in his model and in his language that it all the time felt actually thrilling and actually slightly bit like dwelling,” Morland stated.

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Jacob Guzman and Mattie Love in Dancin’.
Julieta Cervantes

Second Chances

The present is not only a revival of a Broadway hit, however for a few of the solid a private revival.

Marin stated she had retired from dancing earlier than being solid.

“I had stopped dancing pretty much and I’ve been transitioning heavily into more acting for TV and film.,” she stated.

During the pandemic, she stated, like many different performers she fell right into a “really depressive state.”

But as she went by the audition course of, she started “experiencing joy again.”

Morland additionally took a detour from performing in the course of the pandemic. After West Side Story in early 2020, he moved to Denver to work in its place trainer.

“I did take a break from dancing, so coming back, it was super exciting to have my first dance job back in the city and my first dance experience be Dancin’,” he stated. “Like literally dancing.”

Morland stated a revival needs to be about honoring historical past whereas giving the present new life.

“I think what makes a good revival is a balance of upholding tradition and then also totally throwing tradition in the trash,” he stated.

While the present is constructed on the inspiration of Fosse’s choreography, Morland stated it additionally celebrates particular person dancers with collaborations within the dialogue and appearing to characterize the present second.

“We’re not playing different characters,” he stated. “We are ourselves in the show.”

“We’re going to try to honor this choreography but because you’re in a body that exists right now, in this time…the influence of your own life and your own experience will move through that formula in a way that gives a completely new life,” Morland provides.

“I just feel like people are gonna want to dance and that’s such a beautiful language that we all understand,” Marin stated. “It’s like when you see someone smile, that’s contagious.”

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