Al Hirschfeld draws a dancin’ man

Dance · Theater · Visual arts

Everyone knows that arts journalist Al Hirschfeld, whose theatrical caricatures accompanied Sunday New York Times feature articles about Broadway openings, was a genius.

But The Line King‘s rendering of Bob Fosse in 1978, on the occasion of the opening of his no-book, all-dance musical Dancin’, got my attention. I can’t stop looking at …

… the many spot-on and humorous choices the artist made in his process.

How he captures the choreographer’s neat, belted uniform; the vee-neck with strands of visible chest hair; the torque in the torso so extreme it causes one arm to ‘disappear’ behind the body — pulled back with a vengeance.

The ‘jazz hands’!

Fosse’s face had few differentiating characteristics. He looked like an Everyman. But he provided Hirschfeld a jaw outlined in a beard, a ubiquitous cigarette, an eagle eye for persnickety dance-detail, and then, the best, the ‘comb-over’ hair of a man who began to go bald in his ’30s.

1974, Michael Tighe/Donaldson Collection/Getty

Al Hirschfeld Bob Fosse source: John Corry, “Broadway: Bob Fosse is getting ready to give us that new song and dance,” New York Times, Dec. 2, 1977

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