Garth Fagan Dance



Celebrating its 43rd anniversary in absolute top-notch form and professionalism, Garth Fagan Dance has been praised for its irreplaceable originality, as well as their ground-breaking choreography that defies conventional modern dance. Fagan’s dances are mostly appreciated for their physical intensity,
but they are constructed with steel-beamed logic and challenge
the mind as well as the eye
 - Joseph H. Mazo, The Record

Playing to its customary warm, enthusiastic audiences, the company introduced Madiba by Garth Fagan, a reflection on Nelson Mandela, and Liminal Flux by Norman Pennewell, a study of shifting, interlocking patterns - Claudia La Rocca, NY Times.

Madiba celebrates the life of Nelson Mandela and takes its name from his family clan. While being non-narrative, it reveals the soul of a community that is churning, swaying between jubilation and confrontation. Norman Pennewell was the Mandela figure, a little detached from the ensemble, wearing a camera on a headband that captured the other dancers live, projecting them on the back wall amid a vortex of light-images.

Mr. Fagan had met Mr. Mandela once; now he confesses to the joyous impact the great man's legacy has on him. He wanted to do a piece on the essence of Mandela as encapsulated in his statement, "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedoms of others." The dance became Madiba, an abstract, euphoric, athletic piece set to music by South African jazz composer Abdullah Ibrahim. Non-narrative and non-biographical, it sets out to suggest Mandela's perspective and his memories of friendships, love and incarceration. In a much applauded duet between young Nelson and young Winnie, there was a seldom-seen picture of the famous couple as youths, supporting, loving and enjoying each other. As Pennewell was encircled by a Circle Dance (a piece reminiscent of its South African origins), the surrounding bodies morphed into his prison. Later, a duet of two female dancers illustrated the Black parts of the country discovering, or rediscovering, each other. There was palpable joy in the South African community coming together in the company sections.

Liminal Flux is actually the second dance to premiere in Mr. Pennewell's new choreographic career, the successor to his debut piece, Hylozoic (2010). It is set to music by Miles Davis, Chancha Via Circuito and Sly & Robby and seeks to reveal an inner journey by means of spatial patterning and perspective. The New York Times (Claudia La Rocco) wrote that the audience feasted on its style of lusciously undulating torsos, geometric extensions and rooted-into-the-earth balances.

The New York Times named Garth Fagan's Mudan 175/39 third of the top six dance watching moments of 2009. The company has five Bessie winners. Mr. Fagan, you will remember, is choreographer of Broadway's The Lion King.

 
Greg Barrett

photo by:
Greg Barrett
Mudan 175/39

Yi-Chun Wu

photo by:
Yi-Chun Wu
Thanks Forty

Greg Barrett

photo by:
Greg Barrett
Prelude

Yi-Chun Wu

photo by:
Yi-Chun Wu
Thanks Forty