Ballet Nebraska’s ‘Momentum: In the Style of Bob Fosse’

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October 16th, 2017

Photo courtesy of Ballet Nebraska

Omaha, NE—Ballet Nebraska returns next week with their seasonal Momentum performance. Momentum is not a single ballet, but an evening of short dances showing a wider scope of themes and dancers’ talents. This time it’s Fosse style, with a tribute to the legendary Broadway choreographer and eight time Tony award winner Bob Fosse as the finale. Artistic Director of Ballet Nebraska Erika Overturff talked about Broadway and Hollywood star’s influence.

Bob Fosse is really an icon in dance,” Overturff said. “He’s influenced so many choreographers, so many dancers and because we are so lucky to be doing his work, we’ve had a chance to even study a little bit more in-depth about his life and where his inspiration came from.  It was really interesting to learn about. I saw an interview with him where he said he took some things—like he didn’t have the greatest turn-out, so he went the opposite way and at the turned in knees and the hunchback. He was a little bit balding, so he always wore a hat, and then that became a signature thing in his style was dancing with the classic bowler hat. He actually was a fabulous dancer, but he used those things that he felt were  short comings and turned them into something else and made a new style really that is very captivating and really stands the test of time.”

Some of Fosse’s musicals include Pippin, Dancin’ and Chicago, and he known for film as well. A piece called Cabaret won him the academy award in 1972 over Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather. To achieve that signature Fosse style, in the finale of Momentum: In the Style of Bob Fosse, Ballet Nebraska worked with Ann Reinking, Tony award winner as well as colleague and former romantic interest of the late Fosse.

“I talked to her about why she came and did things like this—came and worked with different companies and dancers, and she said for her the work is very important and she wants to ensure that it gets passed on in the right way with the details, the backstory, the real understanding of it. It was interesting to learn from her the Fosse work, even though it can be very sensual—some of the moves are provocative seeming—that it’s very classy and elegant, so it doesn’t go in the wrong direction. It was just a treasure to get to work with her.”

Leading up to the Fosse finale, Momentum will feature both classic and new pieces. From the 19th century, “Blue Bird and Princess Florine” from The Sleeping Beauty set to Tchaikovsky. As for new ballet, the company will perform Erin Alarcón’s “Bricolage,” influenced by Django Reinhart’s “gypsy jazz,” and Overturff’s “Appalachian Song” inspired by the Joslyn’s current exhibition.

“When we’re selecting pieces for Momentum, I definitely think of the show as a whole so each piece is individual but the whole show has to make sense together.  We try to line up the works in such a way that you have an opening that sets the mood and just takes us through, and the finale is generally a big high-energy piece which we have. The fun thing about Momentum is the variety and the versatility that you get to see, so each piece is unique and different but it keeps it interesting.”

Momentum: In the Style of Bob Fosse will show at the Joslyn Art Museum next Friday, October 20th at 7:30pm and at Iowa Western Arts Center on Sunday the 22nd at 2:00pm. For more information or tickets, visit balletnebraska.org

 

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