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BWW Review: GARTH FAGAN DANCE Celebrates 45 Years in NYC


In a mix of old favorites and two world premieres by Norwood Pennewell and, of course, Fagan himself, Garth Fagan Dance celebrated its 45th anniversary at The Joyce Theater in a week-long engagement, November 3-8, 2015. Honoring such a significant milestone in the company is a great time to showcase the popular pieces of the past, in conjunction with a few new ones that highlight its diverse range and achievements. And Fagan did not let his audience down!

The evening began with one of his older pieces, Oatka Trail," a tribute to an old Seneca Indian trail near Rochester, New York, not too far from the company's home base. This performance was interesting, showing the depth of Fagan's artistry that is balletic, yet precise. The dance, performed by women, contained such grace and elegance, revealing its choreography that is simple, yet complex.

Next was the world premiere of Norwood Pennewell's piece, "So You See," his fifth contribution to the Fagan company. It has a swing/jazzy feel, incorporating many quick and precise movements. Pennewell's excellent use of arms and legs, combined with his good eye for group and partner work, gelled together beautifully.

Fagan's "Two Pieces of One: Green" was quite lovely, definitely showcasing the troupe's strong technique For me, what stands out is the attention to details in the movements. It is the little things that make this piece such a delight.

The much anticipated world premiere of Fagan's "Geoffrey Holder Life Fete...Bacchanal," with Bacchanal referring to the Trinidadian description of a great party, was a tribute to his late and dear friend. Holder was an acclaimed actor, choreographer, dancer, painter, singer, as well as a Tony-Award winning costume designer and stage director. With the Caribbean flavor, bright colors, and happy faces, Fagan showed that mourning doesn't have to be sorrowful. The most touching part was the spoken interlude giving special recognition to Holder's wife, Carmen de Lavallade, of 59 years.

The evening ended with an excerpt from Fagan's piece, "Woza," a Zulu word for "Come." This was a fun and upbeat performance, with beautiful arms and amazing poses on balance. What a great way to end the night!

The company will continue this engagement at their home base, the Nazareth College Arts Center in Rochester, NY, December 2-6, 2015.

Photo Credit: Greg Barrett

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