Reviews

Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ ****1/2

By: Isa Goldberg

April 5, 2023: What is joie de vivre, if not “Dancin’”! With direction and staging by Wayne Cilento, Bob Fosse’s explosive choreography gets a rousing revival on Broadway.

As visual storytelling, the production is riveting energizing uplifting, and thrilling.

By: Isa Goldberg

April 5, 2023: What is joie de vivre, if not “Dancin’”! With direction and staging by Wayne Cilento, Bob Fosse’s explosive choreography gets a rousing revival on Broadway.

As visual storytelling, the production is riveting energizing uplifting, and thrilling.

Opening with “Crunchy Granola Suite”, originally written for “Dancin’”, the show starts out hot and slow, before it turns into full heat – up tempo and jazzy. That sense of contrast is signature Fosse, as are snapping fingers, wide spread hands with outstretched arms, turned in toes and knees, and shoulder rolls. It’s all there, from the very first number. 

Karli Dinardo, Mattie Love and Ida Saki

Just to remind the audience that we are on Fosse turf, Yemen Brown’s up next, portraying Mr. Bojangles. Brown’s performance demonstrates sensitivity and strength, with attention to every detail of Fosse’s choreography. Of course, it brings to mind the happy go lucky tap dancer Tim Bojangles Robinson, but it also evokes that most graceful and soulful of dancers, Ben Vereen, who is known for his rendition – so exemplary of Fosse’s style. 

In this scene, Brown recites a poem by Langston Hughs, that begins, “I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother.” Joining him in the dance, Jacob Guzman expresses their spiritual brotherhood.

That each of the dancers here are so individually wonderful and collectively diverse is a gift of casting (Xavier Rubiano at Tara Rubin Casting).  A contemporary ballet dancer, Peter John Chursin’s style is uplifting, and he plays a wide range of characters. Dainty as he is, Chursin portrays the mime, the clarinet, as well as a wooden soldier. 

Among the male dancers Manuel Herrera stands out for his intense presence; the audience connects with him because he is so centered. For his comic repartee, Tony d’Alelio is a treasure, and Jovan Dansberry is just beautiful to watch.

Observing the moves of the androgynous Norse-like god-dess Kolton Krouse, however, is mind blowing. The dancer’s expressive transformations, gender fluidity, and vampiric qualities are beyond dashing. He is in and of himself a story, and we follow this dancer through many different situations, and roles. 

Sustaining her high energy moves, Ida Saki is wicked on the dance floor. She commands the stage in the show’s eleventh hour number, “America”.  It’s not a laughing matter, especially at this time in our country, and in New York City. Here, with intention the “home of the free” is honored.

Since this is Fosse, there has to be a red head. In those roles, Dylis Croman is charming. An adorable clown (“Let Me Entertain You”), and an enchanting chanteuse singing, “Here You Come Again”. 

For the most part, the singing is less exciting than the dance, but it needs to be there. 

With a sense of mystery, Ioana Alfonso grasps the spiritual voice of the dancer, telling the audience, “The music calls to us… and we respond. Spiritually. Sensually. High toned and elegant. Lowdown and dirty.” 

Costumes by Reid Bartelme and Harriet Jung make leotards look really exciting. Blending abstract dance costumes with period dress, and fantasy-like creations, is invigorating. Drawing on color and emphasis David Grill’s lighting design and video design by Finn Ross extend the dance beyond our conscious observation.

Rhythm and movement, heart and soul – that is “Dancin’”. And these dancers – pulsing with tension, and exploding into release –love to dance, swirling us into their romance. 

Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ ****1/2
Music Box Theater, 239 W. 45th St., NYC. 
Photography: Julieta Cervantes