Life of

Bob Fosse’s “All That Jazz” and what it means.

 

images (1)

Women are hot.

Men are cool.

If it doesn’t hurt, you’re not doing it right.

“I think Balanchine and Robbins talk to God, and when I call, He’s out to lunch.”

“I thank God that I wasn’t born perfect.”

“Don’t dance for the audience, dance for yourself.”

“I like attractive people who aren’t so terribly aware that they are attractive.”

“I like people who aren’t afraid to roll on the floor and make fools out of themselves.”

“Don’t compete with anyone, just yourself.”

These were all things said by or about Bob Fosse and his work.  In fact, my favorite was during one of his auditions.  You see, after Bob Fosse’s fame as a dancer, choreographer, and director became synonymous with dance on stage, people would like up to audition for him.  There was one audition that became well known in the dance community to define Fosse.  The dancers at a call were going back and forth one at a time (with over a hundred people there) doing the same one step over and over, again.  One young man said, “When are we going to move on from this?”images (2)

Fosse, standing behind him said, “Until someone gets it right.”

 

“ALL THAT JAZZ” is a semi-autobiographical commentary of the performing arts’ working conditions during Bob Fosse’s creating of “CHICAGO” from the point of view of the director.

Bob Fosse was born in Chicago in 1927, which was naturally his inspiration for the musical “CHICAGO.”  His idol was Fred Astaire.  He loved dancing, but had a few things working against him.  You see, he started to go bald at 19, he hated his hands, and was pigeon-toed.  This is why his style of dance had so many hats, gloves, and was turned in.  images (3)

The style of his choreography is to give the impression of older styles of dance in a lazy, provocative form.  His pieces are based on Robins, Balanchine, Ragtime, Charleston, various animals (the lazy snake), ballet, and theater dance, while making the lines look lazy, easy, and disinterested, teasing an audience with glimmers of passion, seduction and sensuality, BUT only glimmers.

As you’ll see in the movie, “ALL THAT JAZZ,” many choreographers as talented and dedicated as “Joe Gideon” (a self portrayal of the director, Bob Fosse) create isolation from a functional social life and family.  Every thought goes into the creation of performing arts.  Unfortunately, the choreography destroys himself while creating brilliance.  The only way to ‘make it stop,’ turning off the brain from creating a magical piece from everything he sees or experiences, is through pills, alcohol, cigarettes, and sexual affairs.  This movie isn’t simply an autobiography.  It is a comment on the performing industry taking advantage of brilliant, diligent, perfectionist artists.  AND how the industry not only permits but implores these artists to indulge in self-destructive behavior and activities AS LONG AS he delivers his brilliance. 

“ALL THAT JAZZ” is a comment on the lack of humanity to those who really can’t care for themselves, and encouraging the behavior and lifestyles that killed many other brilliant performers (and still do).  Other examples of people in the performing arts who have died from these kinds of lifestyles and are enabled as long as they provide artistic brilliance are Michael Jackson, Mario Lanza, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe.  This movie is a warning to those who have the thirst for the work.  That this world will encourage you slowly kill yourself and that no one will protect you from the death you face.  Very few will warn you, or keep you from your own demise, in face, most will encourage you to keep going, making those who warn sound ridiculous.  All that is needed is that you keep on creating, inspiring, entertaining, and dying.  images

Failure is a difficult subject to admin in your autobiography when your as vain as Bob Fosse was.  He creates inspiration, boundaries, ethics, and responsibility in his performers, but fails in his family. 

This movie also shows you into the mind of a choreographer, and how day & night, the creative process continues and consumes.  Sleeping is impractical (well restful sleeping) because inspiration creeps into rest and forces the tired mind into design or obsession.  The pieces are amazing, but again, there is suffering and self-sacrifice. 

When you watch the movie, look for these comments, metaphors, and symbols:

Producers profit while he is dying.

Insecurity about his legacy (or the artist’s legacy)

Insecurity about his virility (or the artist’s insecurity about sexuality and virility)

The never ending finale (it’s important part, so don’t turn it off.  He keeps rewriting it as it is happening)

How the final warning is turning into a brilliant trio number instead of taking literally.

Finally, this movie is a self portrayal of his time while creating “CHICAGO the Musical.”  The sexual affairs, the need to make it right with his ex-wife by giving her the lead in a role she is too old for.  Sex, Drugs, Alcohol, and Violence (looking into his past, childhood, and style).  You’ll notice several numbers that are very similar if not almost identical to numbers in “CHICAGO.”  Have fun watching the movie!

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