Custom «Kelly and Fosse Dance Styles and Works» Essay Paper Sample

Kelly and Fosse Dance Styles and Works

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Gene Kelly was an American dancer, singer, actor, producer, and film director who was born in 1912 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the USA. He was famous for his athletic and energetic dancing styles, the likable character displayed on the screen as well as his sharp look. His parents made sure that all the five of Kelly’s siblings attended art, dancing, or music lessons outside the school, so Kelly was enrolled in a dance class at the age of eight but started to dance when he was fifteen. Such hobby made his classmates laugh at him, but that did not prevent the boy from pursuing his career. Kelly's childhood dream was to play shortstop for his hometown.

Kelly's classical ballet technique and athletic style made the drastic transformation to film musical from the earlier concentration of music comedy as well as tapping (Hess 31). It happened because he could blend solo dancing, offbeat camera, and mass movement to tell a story in visual terms. Subsequently, Kelly is remembered for his direct role in Singing in the Rain that is regarded by many people as a dance film to ever be performed or made. Mostly, Kelly brought dance into authentic life in his moves since he presented in a conventional setting as well as regular clothes. He once explained that all his dancing came from ordinary man. However, Kelly suffered a stroke and died in 1996 in Beverly Hills’ Los Angeles California USA (Thackerey). Although he died, his dance moves are practiced worldwide nowadays.

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On the other hand, Bob Fosse was an American musical director, actor-choreographer, film director as well as screenwriter, who was born in 1927 in Chicago, Illinois, US. Just like Kelly, Bob Fosse had an interest in dancing at a very young age, so the parents supported him in displaying his exceptional skills by enrolling him in a formal dance school (Gottfried 449). Fosse came from a large family, similar to Kelly, and being the youngest of the six children, he earned attention for the family through his extraordinary dance moves. Fosse took part in professional dancing at night clubs, which gave him an opportunity to learn the themes of burlesque and vaudeville performance. Similar to Kelly, Bob changed the way audiences viewed dance on the stage as well as in the film industry worldwide. Unlike Kelly, his dance moves were provocative and entertaining. However, due to hard drinking, smoking, drug abuse, and nonstop work program, he developed a heart problem and, eventually, died in 1987 at the age of sixty in Washington D.C., USA.  

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Kelly dance style was physically expressive and athletic, and he aimed to show emotions by narrating a story in his dances. Similarly, Bob addressed human feelings with his dance style that was full of humor, bleak, cynicism, provocation as well as entertainment. Both Kelly and Bob started dancing at a very young age hinting at a larger thread of sensuality what would run through their career. Moreover, they both made progress in the development of dances. Kelly refused to categorize his style and admitted that he tried to expand the style that was indigenous to the environment he was reared contrasting to Fosse, who categorized his dance style as burlesque. Unlike Kelly, who employed tap and the musical comedy style then incorporated ballet and modern form of dance, Fosse preferred angle that he accomplished with jutting hip or turned in the knee and other isolated movements. Kelly primary interest was ballet dance since it was a hybrid of moves that incorporated tap dancing and the American folk dance. Ballet gave Kelly a feeling of exhilaration, and it was the most satisfying form of self-expression. Kelly’s unique dance was shown in the 'Good Morning' and 'Singing in the Rain' songs (Hess 33). Due to his style, Kelly became the first American to be invited to stage and the choreographer in an original ballet at Paris Opera. As a result of the curtain call the performance received, his ballet performance became a part of Paris operas repertoire. On the other hand, Fosse’s typical dance element was finger snapping, rolling shoulders and hips with overall strutting impression and capping off, especially in his famous Damn Yankees. Fosse had adopted this style that was sexually suggestive after growing up in cabaret nightclubs. Fosse’s dance style and moves were adapted by Michael Jackson thus remaining in his repertoire.

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Kelly choreographed his movement just like Fosse choreographed film version of various musicals at Broadway. Both had dance styles with excellent moves and in some of then they incorporated women. The typical costuming of these women were white gloves, fishnet stockings or pants forming a right combination followed by planned movements. Moreover, they both made their ways to Broadway stage. Kelly’s work includes Anchors Aweigh that he danced with a cartoon mouse Jerry (“Gene Kelly – Dance with “Jerry” the Cartoon Mouse”). Others were On the Town, An American in Paris, and Singing in the Rain among other others. On the other hand, Fosse had famous musical work that included the Damn Yankees, The Pajama Game, Sweet Charity, Liza, Pippin, and Dancing Chicago among others (“Bob Fosse Choreography – “The Rich Man’s Frug”). Kelly made innovations that transformed the musical films, and he was recognized for making ballet dance to be acceptable to film audiences. Unlike Kelly, Bob was known for his unique amalgamation of cool jazz movements. Kelly has worked with Robert Alton in a Pittsburgh Playhouse, and also he had used to work for Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe. Moreover, he signed a contract with David Selznick to go to Hollywood after his performance in the New York (Gene Kelly Joins Hollywood Players in "Glass Key 19). On the other hand, Fosse had signed MGM contract that brought him to the Broadway producer’s attention.

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 Kelly was influenced by the father since he loved the sport but his major influence was his mother who loved theater. She played a great role in taking Kelly to dancing lessons. Another source of inspiration was his love for ballet dance. Conversely, Fosse was significantly influenced by Jack Cole, the father of theoretical jazz dance. Jerome Robins also influenced him. He directed and choreographed his subsequent musical piece in a new film in town which acted as a source of inspiration since there was collaborators’ conflict of interest (Gottfried 448).

Kelly received several awards such as an Academy Honorary Award for his achievements in career, Kennedy Center Honors, Lifetime Achievement Award, an award from Actor’s Guild as well as American Film Institute. Moreover, he was also in position fifteen in the cinema list of the greatest male stars of classic Hollywood. Conversely, Fosse won eight new awards for choreography and direction. Moreover, he was nominated for four Academy Awards, therefore, winning for his cabaret direction. This achievement made him the only director to win the prizes in all the three entertainment industries in the same year. Fosse was also honored with a Broadway musical vaudeville that featured his work. For his legacy, Fosse was inaugurated into the Saratoga Springs National Museum of Dance in New York. The Los Angeles Dance Awards were later changed to Fosse Awards and currently, they are known as American Choreography Awards. Fosse’s daughter established Bob Fosse Gwen Verdon Fellowship in the honor of her father at the Alvin Ailey America Dance Company. As for Kelly’s legacy, there was a month long program that was held in honor of Kelly showing dozens of his films in New York City’s Film Society.

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Kelly and Fosse were the most influential men in dance history; their unique dance styles are still practiced in dance studios all over the world. Their amazing choreography continues to live on through several musicals. It is worth noting that there are several things around the world today due to their contributions. Jazz dance in the present centuries still looks back for inspiration from classics to create dance performances. Moreover, ballet and jazz dance have evolved in diverse moods and music courtesy of Kelly and Fosse. Their work continued to be sampled and referenced in music films, videos as well as commercials. In many reality TV shows, the choreography and performance of the dances emulate the works of Fosse and Kelly. For instance, Fosse styles are taught in classes around the world by former Fosse’s dancers, rabid fans as well as by the assistants. Fosse’s students are equipped with all Fosse’s terms such as broken doll, tea cup fingers, elbow twist hands, paint brush, jazz hands, and waterfall arms among others. The work of Kelly has been frequently written about in magazines for his leadership in budding dancers.

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In conclusion, Kelly and Fosse have greatly influenced today’s dance moves as they inspired many people. Their innovations transformed the musical films and were recognized for making ballet dance and jazz dance acceptable to film audience respectively. Moreover, they also changed the way audience viewed dance on the stage as well as in the film industry worldwide.

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