Sammy Davis Jr., and Ben Vereen, in ‘The Rhythm of Life’ from Sweet Charity

The Rhythm of Life is a Powerful Beat: Following Fosse's Musical, Physical, and Visual Rhythms


Rhythm is the single thread connecting the many facets of Bob Fosse’s career. As a dancer and choreographer, Fosse focused on shaping the rhythmic properties of his stage shows; as a director, and de facto film editor, Fosse applied this fascination with rhythm in the editing bays. Despite a wide variety of dramatic content, these films are a unique opportunity to explore the role of rhythm in the editing of film musicals. Fosse directed five films in the span of one decade: Sweet Charity (1969); Cabaret (1972); Liza with a Z (1972); Lenny (1974); and All That Jazz (1979). Based on analyses of key scenes from Sweet Charity and All That Jazz, I have found that Fosse manipulates rhythm in three ways: musically (the performed musical score), physically (the staged choreography), and visually (the edited cuts). In this talk, I will examine two sequences that illustrate Fosse’s corresponding layers of rhythm and consider how this complex nexus helps to frame our understanding of film musical’s visual rhythm.

May 13, 2020 12:00 AM
Cleveland, OH
Alex Ludwig
Associate Professor; Interim Assistant Chair of the Liberal Arts

My research interests include Joseph Haydn’s String Quartets, The Beatles and Film Music.