There's a Bob Fosse/Gwen Verdon TV Series In the Works—With the Team Behind Hamilton at the Helm
The news that Lin-Manuel Miranda, Andy Blankenbuehler and Thomas Kail are working together on a new project is almost too wonderful to handle. But the creative team behind Hamilton isn't reuniting for just any old thing: They're teaming up for a dance-centric television series about Broadway legends Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon, and we cannot contain our excitement.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, FX has given the green light to an eight-episode limited series that will focus on the romantic and creative relationship between Fosse and Verdon, and how it transformed musical theater. Miranda is attached as an executive producer alongside Nicole Fosse (the subjects' daughter and an actress and dancer in her own right); Blankenbuehler is a co-producer (and, we hope, will be on hand for the dance sequences); Kail is slated to direct the pilot episode (written by Steven Levensen, who you might recognize from 2017 Tony Awards juggernaut Dear Evan Hansen). Michelle Williams and Sam Rockwell are set to star.
Andy Blankenbuehler performed on Broadway in Fosse before becoming the Great White Way's go-to choreographer. Photo by Rachel Papo
"Bob Fosse ignited a revolution in American dance, theater and film. But, in contrast to the well-worn myth of the visionary artist working in solitude, Fosse's work would not have been possible without Gwen Verdon, the woman who helped to mold his style—and make him a star," said Miranda, Blankenbuehler and Kail in a joint statement.
Calling this a dream team is no overstatement—Blankenbuehler spent a couple of years performing in Fosse on Broadway, and if anyone has a handle on Bob Fosse's iconic, idiosyncratic style, it's got to be Nicole Fosse.
Production is scheduled to begin this fall, as FX is aiming for a 2019 release—keep your eyes peeled for casting notices!
Lin-Manuel Miranda at work. Photo by RadicalMedia. Courtesy PBS
And in other "Lin-Manuel Miranda has zero chill" news...well, there's a lot of it.
This morning, it was announced that the creators of Hamilton—Miranda, Blankenbuehler, Kail and music director Alex Lacamoire—are getting a special Kennedy Center Honor "as trailblazing creators of a transformative work that defies category." No big deal.
It was also recently announced that Miranda will be making his directorial debut with a film adaptation of Tick, Tick...Boom!, a musical by Jonathan Larson (of RENT fame) in which Miranda starred opposite
Aaron Burr Leslie Odom, Jr. in 2014 for a New York City Center Encores! production. The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that bidding is underway for the rights to a filming of Hamilton made in 2016, before Miranda left the titular role, and might be on screens as early as 2020. (And we didn't even mention that Miranda is publishing a book of his famed good morning/goodnight tweets, or his announcement that the proceeds from the upcoming Puerto Rico Hamilton performances will be donated to arts organizations in the territory, or this fantastic interview he gave "TODAY," or his latest Emmy nomination, or...)
- How They Met | The Verdon Fosse Legacy LLC ›
- Gwen Verdon, Redhead Who High-Kicked Her Way to Stardom ... ›
- Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon in Damn Yankees - Who's Got the ... ›
- Bob Fosse | Biography, Musicals, Movies, & Facts | Britannica.com ›
- FX Orders Bob Fosse/Gwen Verdon Limited Series Starring Michelle ... ›
- Lin-Manuel Miranda (@Lin_Manuel) | Twitter ›
- FX Orders Bob Fosse Series Starring Sam Rockwell, Michelle ... ›
- Lin-Manuel Miranda, Michelle Williams, Sam Rockwell Team for Bob ... ›
- Every project Lin-Manuel Miranda currently has in the works | EW.com ›
On May 18, 1919, Margot "Peggy" Hookham was born. She would grow up to become Dame Margot Fonteyn, England's first homegrown prima ballerina. She joined the Sadler's Wells School in 1934 and was performing principal roles with the precursor to The Royal Ballet the next year. Fonteyn was a company-defining figure, dancing Aurora for the re-opening of the Royal Opera House after World War II, creating numerous roles with Sir Frederick Ashton and forging a legendary partnership with Rudolf Nureyev.
The way we create and consume dance is changing every day. Now more than ever, the field demands that dancers not only be able to perform at the highest level, but also collaborate with choreographers to bring their artistic visions to life. Dancers who miss out on choreographic training may very well find themselves at a disadvantage as they try to launch their careers.
Memorial Day is notoriously one of Chicago's bloodiest weekends. Last year, 36 people were shot and seven died that weekend. In 2017 and 2016, the number of shootings was even higher.
When Garley "GiGi Tonyé" Briggs, a dance teacher and Chicago native, started noticing this pattern, she was preparing her second annual Memorial Day workshop for local youth.
The event's original aim was simple: "I wanted the youth of Chicago to have somewhere they could come and learn from different dancers and be off the streets on the South Side on this hot holiday," she says.
A recent trip I took to Nashville coincided with the NFL draft. As we drove into town, my Uber driver was a fount of information on the subject.
I learned that there are 32 NFL teams and that the draft takes place over seven rounds. That the team that did the poorest during the previous season gets first pick. That during an earlier event called the scouting combine, the teams assess college football players and figure out who they want.
There is also the veteran combine for "free agents"—players who have been released from their contracts or whose contracts have expired. They might be very good players, but their team needs younger members or ones with a certain skill set. All year round, experienced NFL scouts scan games across the country, checking out players and feeding that information back to the teams. Players' agents keep their eyes on opportunities for their clients which might be more rewarding.
While I sat in the traffic of 600,000 NFL fans I got thinking, is there something ballet could learn from football? Could a draft system improve young dancers' prospects and overall company caliber and contentment?
It's not often that a promising choreographer gets to stage work in a world-class theater, on a skillfully-curated program with professional dancers, and with the possibility of winning a substantial cash prize. But at the McCallum Theatre's Palm Desert Choreography Festival, that's been the status quo for over twenty years.
Since Shea New, the festival's artistic director, founded the festival in 1998, she's worked tirelessly with McCallum's director of education and festival producer, Kajsa Thuresson-Frary, and stage manager and festival production manager Joanna Fookes to build a festival that nurtures choreographers, highlights high quality work, powerfully engages the local community and cultivates an audience base for dance in the Coachella Valley. The trio is backed by a strong team of professionals at McCallum and the brilliant volunteers from the local and national level who serve as adjudicators.
Get Dance Magazine in your inbox
Despite what you might think, there's no reason for dancers to be afraid of bread.
"It's looked at as this evil food," says New York State–certified dietitian and former dancer Tiffany Mendell. But the truth is, unless you have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, bread can be a healthy source of carbohydrates—our body's preferred fuel—plus fiber and vitamins.
The key is choosing your loaf wisely.
It can be hard to imagine life without—or just after—dance. Perhaps that's why we find it so fascinating to hear what our favorite dancers think they'd be doing if they weren't performing for a living.
We've been asking stars about the alternate career they'd like to try in our "Spotlight" Q&A series, and their answers—from the unexpected to the predictable—do not disappoint:
"New York City Ballet star appears in a Keanu Reeves action movie" is not a sentence we ever thought we'd write. But moviegoers seeing John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum will be treated to two scenes featuring soloist Unity Phelan dancing choreography by colleague Tiler Peck. The guns-blazing popcorn flick cast Phelan as a ballerina who also happens to be training to become an elite assassin. Opens in theaters May 17.
The Brooklyn-based choreographer Gillian Walsh is both obsessed with and deeply conflicted about dance. With her latest work, Fame Notions, May 17–19 at Performance Space New York, she seeks to understand what she calls the "fundamentally pessimistic or alienating pursuit" of being a dancer. Noting that the piece is "quiet and introverted," like much of her other work, she sees Fame Notions as one step in a larger project examining why dancers dance.
What does Mikhail Baryshnikov have to say to dancers starting their careers today? On Friday, he gave the keynote speech during the graduation ceremony for the inaugural class of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance.
The heart of his message: Be generous.
Launching a dancewear line seems like a great way for professional dancers to flex new artistic muscles and make side money. Several direct-to-consumer brands founded by current or former professional dancers, like Elevé and Luckleo, currently compete with bigger retailers, like Capezio.
But turning your brand into the next Yumiko is more challenging than some budding designers may realize.
When I first came to dance criticism in the 1970s, the professional critics were predominantly much older than me. I didn't know them personally and, as the wide-eyed new kid on the block, I assumed most had little or no physical training in the art.
As slightly intimidated as I felt at the time—you try sitting around a conference room table with Dance Magazine heavy hitters like Tobi Tobias and David Vaughan—I smugly gave myself props for at least having had recent brushes with ballet, Graham, Duncan and Ailey and more substantial engagement with jazz and belly dance. Watching dancers onstage, I enjoyed memories of steps and moves I knew in my own bones. If the music was right, my shoulders would wriggle. I wasn't just coolly judging things from my neck up.