Master Class: The Choreography of Bob Fosse

Musical Theatre Performance - Fosse Master Class with Kali Russell


On Tuesday, February 27, 2018, students in Loyola’s Musical Theatre Performance class were given the opportunity to take a Bob Fosse Master Class with alumnus Kali Russell. The class featured traditional Fosse-style choreography to the song “Lady Marmalade” from Moulin Rouge, and students were taught proper Fosse technique as well as some popular moves that they would likely see in an audition setting. Although Musical Theatre students are typically familiar with Fosse’s choreography from seeing shows such as Chicago or Sweet Charity, for many, it was the first time they had ever learned the dance style themselves.

Over the course of the master class, Russell worked with students on bringing out a sultry yet simplistic personality through movement, and discussed the importance of being confident when dancing no matter how well you know the choreography. Her teaching style consisted of repetition of a few counts of eight at a time without music, which gave students the time to go over the choreography without the stress of the faster tempo. Then, she added the music in, and would let students go over it in their heads before performing it with full energy.

After the students learned the full choreography, Russell split them into four groups and picked each group one at a time to perform the dance in front of the rest of the class. The students were all incredibly encouraging to one another, and cheered each other on as they danced. Being in a positive teaching environment can bring out the most confident dancer in anyone, and the reassurance of peers helps students perform to the best of their ability with passion and determination.

Despite some students having never taken a lesson on Fosse, Russell was able to turn everyone into the room into a suave, powerful performer. Dance experience is an asset that can really help out in the competitive musical theatre industry, even if it’s just surrounding yourself with the opportunity to dance in master classes like this. Thanks to Russell, Loyola’s Musical Theatre Performance students have no doubt gained new knowledge and skills that they can use in any theatrical environment, Fosse-related or not.

By: Allison Gruetzner