BWW Reviews: Garth Fagan Shows Precision But Lacks Vigor at the Joyce Theatre
The Joyce Theatre in Chelsea is legendary for spectacular modern dance. Garth Fagan has a reputation for spectacular choreography, winning the Tony award for the Lion King. While Fagan has an interesting intellectual concept of fusing modern dance, ballet and African traditions to create unique movement, tonight's show failed to deliver exciting movement. The musicality and precision of the dancers were outstanding, but the choreography was in slow motion and lulled me to sleep rather than imbuing me with excitement.
The first piece of the evening, Easter Freeway Processional, was the most exciting, with the dancers leaping across the stage as if they were gazelles. The pedestrian costumes complemented the narrative of a community, possibly in the Caribbean or Africa, gathering together for Easter, celebrating, mourning and then finally departing. The fusion of slow modern adagio juxtaposed with frantic African movement pleased and entertained me.
The next piece, No Evidence of Failure, began with a solo by the legendary Natalie Rodgers. The movement, or lack there of, consisted of her masterfully sustaining slow modern movement. While she was outstanding in her execution, the movement was painfully slow, and I could feel my hip flexor gripping as she held her leg a tilt for too many eight counts. Later, Vitolio Jeune joined her on stage. His athleticism was remarkable as he leaped higher than imaginable. The music, a live instrumental rendition of No Woman No Cry, redeemed the piece.
After an intermission, where I attempted to awaken myself after the sluggish number, Senku commenced. The concept of the dance revolved around the Ghanian inspired music, performed live by Oswald Russell and Joshua Uzoigwe, which was the most lively and enjoyable part of the dance. I did enjoy the mass group of dancers weaving around the stage, but once again the choreography was so painfully slow that I felt as though I were stuck in a slow motion time machine.
The evening concluded with Gin, where Fagan's keen attention to musicality shined through in the choreography. However, the customs-unitards-that all of us dancers still have nightmares about wearing, detracted from the visual appeal of the piece. Fagan does stand out as routed in the classical modern tradition, but once again watching sustained movement (or lack there of movement) occasionally break out into loose African movement failed to deliver anything that held my attention span.
I do appreciate the musicality, structure and fusion Fagan brought to his choreography, but movement needs to move. It shouldn't remain so static all the time; more contrast with sharp fast jolting movement would have made a more powerful impact upon the audience.
Photo courtesy of Garth Fagan Dance.