Sex Marks the Spot


Paradise Hotel
By Richard Foreman
Ontological at St. Marks Second Avenue and 10th Street

Compiled by Richard Maltby Jr., Chet Walker, and Ann Reinking
Broadhurst Theatre
Broadway and 44th Street

Ironically, the few classic dances included from the '50s and '60s, apart from earning far more applause than anything else, give away the show's secret. The later style is both obsessively sexual and narcissistically anomic— Fosse's treatment of "Sing, Sing, Sing," from Dancin', is surely the only piece of choreography to swing-band music that has no partnering in it. In the earlier work, the sexual come-on is only one among many possibilities. The form is more fluid, the range of movements wider, the colors and feelings and shapes more varied. You can see the dancers liven up, display more personality, have more fun. (The late style is almost humorless.) There's a sense in which Fosse was always a pure dance artist: The steps he invented for "Steam Heat" have nothing to do with the words of the song, which itself has nothing to do with the action of the show. All the better for him, you might say, that he had a form to work in which didn't allow his abstract monomania to emerge so openly, which compelled him to use so many tonalities he might otherwise have excluded. If the old musical hadn't been what it was, he'd have become the dreary show-dance hack that Fosse makes him look like.

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