TBT: Gwen Verdon – Dance Magazine

At the age of 16, Gwen Verdon stopped dancing. She got pregnant, was forced to marry, and as she told us in the August 1956 issue of Dance Magazine, “I wasn’t really interested in dancing.”

Born January 13, 1925, Verdon was given dance lessons by her mother (a dancer) after she suffered from rickets as a young child. She returned to dancing after the dissolution of her first marriage, though, “if I could write, I would have become a secretary,” she said. Fortunately, she instead went on to become an incomparable Broadway star.

In a black and white photo, an older Gwen Verdon is smiling charmingly for the camera as she extends her leg in front of her to nose height while balancing on a forced arc.  Her arms are outstretched alongside her bent hands.  She wears a white button down, black pants, and black heels.
Gwen Verdon, 1984. After ChicagoShe turned her attention to film and television roles, as well as teaching. Photo by Ken Duncan, courtesy DM Archives

Her five-year stint working with jazz choreographer Jack Cole and time in various chorus lines predated her show-stopping, star-making role in Michael Kidd – Choreographed can canfor which she received her first Tony Award. I followed her second quickly with damn yankees, the show on which she met Bob Fosse. Verdon became his partner and one of the most important interpreters of his choreography. Her third and fourth films were for musicals designed for the Voss dance. The distinctive roles of philanthropy have arisen in sweet charity And Roxy Heart in Chicagoand, despite her split from Fosse in 1981, worked to preserve the choreographer’s legacy after his death in 1987.

This included work as an artistic advisor on the 1999 Broadway musical It was. “I want to be all dancers brilliant She said about working with the cast in the September 1998 issue of Dance Magazine. “Never be humble!” I tell them. Be bad! But it was never mediocre. ”

Verdon was awarded the Dance Magazine Award in 1962 and the National Medal of Arts in 1998. She died in 2000. In recent years, there has been a growing appreciation for Verdon not only as an inspiration, but as a creative force in her own right.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo