Fosse / Verdon: On A Powerful Partnership Yet Volatile Marriage

This week, a new dance miniseries premiered on the FX schedule: Fosse / Verdon. The 8-episode biopic follows legendary choreographer/director Bob Fosse & his dancer muse (and second wife) Gwen Verdon for over five decades, as they navigate their professional success and personal relationship. The title itself suggests a leveled plain depicting how they intensified each other's greatness.

The series is based on a biography of Fosse written by author Sam Wasson. The title character is portrayed by Sam Rockwell, who was recently seen in the 2018 film Vice, while Michelle Williams (The Greatest Showman, Blackbird on Broadway) plays opposite him. Though neither of them may be the first names that come to mind when you think of genre-defining theater dance, Williams has graced the Broadway stage, and the show does have a powerful and theatrical creative team behind it. Lin-Manuel Miranda is listed as an executive producer, while the episodes were written by Steven Levenson (who won a Tony Award for Dear Evan Hansen). Miranda brought in his Hamilton and In The Heights collaborators, Andy Blankenbuehler & Thomas Kail to choreograph and direct, respectively.

Though the show does take some artistic liberties - it is television after all! - much of the narrative is based in fact. Verdon and Fosse collaborated on many projects; first with Damn Yankees in 1955, and later on the film Cabaret, which won Fosse an Academy Award for Best Director. The show doesn’t shy away from Fosse’s quirks or self-destructive behavior -  but it focuses more on the way Fosse & Verdon fueled each other creatively. And their relationship really was a unique and special partnership - one dancer even told the New York Times that “they read each other’s minds.

About the author

Anne Luben has performed works by notable choreographers such as Donald McKayle, Bill T. Jones, Jiri Kylian, Idan Cohen, Alex Ketley, and Summer Lee Rhatigan, among others.