The Jack Cole Legacy        

      Gwen Verdon Biography |  | Bob Fosse Biography

Hal Schaefer, Jack Cole's longtime musical accompanist said the Cole style was both "intellectual and savage." Critic Debra Jowitt offered this assessment: "Cole dancing strikes me as immensely aggressive; almost every gesture is delivered with maximum force, but then has to be stopped cold in mid-air to achieve the clarity of design he immense counter effort has to be used to stop the gesture."

Jazz teacher Nat Horne, who worked for both Jack Cole and Matt Mattox, noted: "Matt didn't like a lot of expression in class, and neither did Jack Cole. They liked that cool, cold look. But what often the student didn't understand was that even though they wanted that cool, cold look - underneath there was a fire in the center of the body, and the feeling of the shoulder isolation coming from the center. Sometimes the face would never change expression, but you could just see the body curl into the contraction."

Camille Long Hill Camille Long Hill     Matt Mattox  Matt Mattox  
Bob Fosse Bob Fosse                     Jerome Robbins  Jerome Robbins

Florence Lessing recalled the mastery of Cole's intricate isolations as requiring "a great deal of concentration, of control. You need a lot of intelligence to do this. It's extremely difficult to master. So many parts of the body, so many muscles moving in opposition to each other, and each in isolation from the other!" To which dancer Buzz Miller added, "Cole demanded a lot of isolations; for instance in an East Indian dance getting each finger to move quite separately, like a Buddha. All Cole's work was very isolated -- very strong, very controlled, very cool. Even his and his dancer's eyes and eyebrows."

The legendary Gwen Verdon, during the Lincoln Center's "Tribute to Jack Cole," noted: "Jack once said to me 'I'm going to tell you what to do with the second joint of your little finger - so don't think that it's going to be any other way!'"

Critic John Martin said that a Cole dancer "is a depersonalized being, an intense kinetic entity rather than an individual. In this state of technical preparedness, which amounts to almost possession, he performs incredible movement, with a dynamism that transfers itself to the spectator as sheer motor enkindlement."

Nat Horne offered: "With the girls, he'd call them aside and say something in their ear, and when they came back they did it! And I have no idea, but I can imagine what sometimes he would say. Sometimes he would be very graphic with what he wanted you to think of. Sometimes you have to shock the students in a nice manner and give them images so the movement has meaning and not just technique behind them."

     Link to the Gwen Verdon Biography    

     Link to the Bob Fosse Biography