Garth Fagan Dance Tributes to Geoffrey Holder With DANCE FOR/WITH GEOFFREY This Weekend
Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT - Founder/Producer Wren T. Brown) announced today that Garth Fagan Dance will bring to Los Angeles Fagan's tribute to the late Geoffrey Holder, "Dance for/With Geoffrey." Performances at the 400-seat Nate Holden Performing Arts Center (4718 W. Washington Blvd.) in Los Angeles will run this weekend, October 16-18, 2015. www.ebonyrep.org
Trinidad-born Geoffrey Holder, who passed last year, was a dancer, choreographer, director, designer, actor and painter. Holder is perhaps best known for "The Wiz," a retelling of Frank Baum's "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" in the context of African-American culture; he won Tony Awards for direction and costume design for the show. The Jamaican-born Fagan credits Holder with paving the way for his own work on "The Lion King" (for which Fagan won Tony and Olivier awards).
Fagan's "Dance for/With Geoffrey" celebrates Holder's creative genius as well as his partnership with his wife, Carmen de Lavallade. Carmen started her career in Los Angeles with Lester Horton's dance company (inviting her neighbor Alvin Ailey to study with Horton too) and went on to work in dance, film and theatre.
Ebony Repertory Theatre Founder/Producer Wren T. Brown comments, "Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT) is thrilled to welcome Garth Fagan Dance, for the second year in a row, to the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center. We are especially proud to present Garth Fagan Dance as it celebrates its 45th year as an international dance institution. Last year during their engagement, Mr. Fagan announced the passing of the seminal Renaissance man, Mr. Geoffrey Holder. Now, one year later, Los Angeles will be treated to the West Coast premiere of his tribute and homage to his beloved colleague: "Dance For/With Geoffrey." It is truly a tremendous honor for ERT to again present this distinctly brilliant company to the City of Angels."
Lewis Segal writing in the Los Angeles Times placed the Fagan Company's 2014 appearance at ERT at the pinnacle of LA dance last year:
"...But it was American master Garth Fagan who best fused technical virtuosity with conceptual depth. The soul-deep conviction and spectacular flair of his 1983 [Prelude] "Discipline Is Freedom" at the Holden may have been the indispensable dance experience of the year."
The program also includes Garth Fagan's "Passion Distanced" (1987) and two sections from "Griot New York" (1991): "Bayou Baroque" and "Spring Yaounde." Fagan says "Passion Distanced," set to music of Arvo Part (whose 80th birthday is celebrated this year), is "a very important dance for me, and any artist in any field." It is art that reflects "all the trials and tribulations that you have to go through to achieve success." "Griot" is set to a commissioned jazz score by Wynton Marsalis and features sets by Martin Puryear .
Norwood Pennewell's "So You See" receives its West Coast premiere as well. Pennewell, who joined the company in 1978 and is Fagan's rehearsal director/assistant, has memorably danced many lead roles in Fagan works and has begun to choreograph himself in the last few years.
The company opens the performances with Fagan's "Prelude: Discipline is Freedom" and concludes with his "Thanks Forty (Five)," created in 2010 for the group's 40th anniversary and updated for its current 45th celebration.
Ebony Repertory Theatre, now in its eighth year, is the resident company and operator of the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, 4718 West Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016. Performances by Garth Fagan Dance are at 8:00 p.m., Friday October 16 and Saturday October 17 with matinees at 2:00 p.m., Saturday October 17 and 3:00 p.m., Sunday, October 18. Seats are $35.00 and $25.00. Student tickets are $20.00. Tickets are available online at ebonyrep.org or by phone at 323-964-9766. Groups of 10 or more are available via email at email@example.com or 323-964-9766.
Members of the Fagan Company will also teach a master class at 7-9 p.m., Tuesday, October 13 in the Rehearsal Room at Nate Holden. Fee is $20. For reservations call 323-964-9766.
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GARTH FAGAN (choreographer) Critics have called Garth Fagan "a true original," "a genuine leader," and "one of the great reformers of modern dance." Fagan is the founder and artistic director of the award-winning and internationally acclaimed Garth Fagan Dance, now celebrating its 45th anniversary season. A Tony and Olivier Award winner, Fagan continually renews his own distinctive dance vocabulary, which draws on many sources: a sense of weight in modern dance, torso-centered movement and energy of Afro-Caribbean, the speed and precision of ballet, and the rule breaking experimentation of the postmoderns.
"Originality has always been Mr. Fagan's strong suit, not least in his transformation of recognizable idioms into a dance language that looks not only fresh but even idiosyncratic," writes Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times. In 2014, Lewis Segal of the Los Angeles Times wrote "it was American master Garth Fagan who best fused technical virtuosity with conceptual depth. The soul-deep conviction and spectacular flair of his 1983 (Prelude) "Discipline Is Freedom" ... may have been the indispensable dance experience of the year."
For his path-breaking choreography for Walt Disney's "The Lion King, "Fagan was awarded the prestigious 1998 Tony Award for Best Choreography. He also received the 1998 Drama Desk Award, 1998 Outer Critics Circle Award, 1998 Astaire Award, 2000 Laurence Olivier Award, 2001 Ovation Award, and the 2004 Helpmann Award for his work on the Broadway musical, which opened in fall 1997 to extraordinary critical praise. "The Lion King" stage musical has now achieved the most successful box office total of any work in any media in entertainment history. Fagan's distinguished work in the theater also includes the first fully staged production of the Duke Ellington street opera, "Queenie Pie," at the Kennedy Center in 1986 and the opening production of Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival's Shakespeare Marathon: "A Midsummer Night's Dream "(1988), set in Brazil and directed by A.J. Antoon.
In the world of concert dance Fagan choreographs primarily for Garth Fagan Dance. His work, "Mudan 175/39," was named by The New York Times as the third of the top six dance watching moments of 2009. Fagan has also produced commissions for a number of leading companies, including his first work on pointe, "Footprints Dressed in Red," for Dance Theatre of Harlem; a solo for Judith Jamison, "Scene Seen," for the debut of the Jamison Project; "Jukebox" for Alvin for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; "Never No Lament" for the José Limon Company; and "Ellington Elation," part of a triad of pieces commissioned by New York City Ballet in honor of Duke Ellington's centenary and New York City Ballet's 50th anniversary.
Fagan began his career when he toured Latin America with Ivy Baxter and her national dance company from Jamaica. Baxter and two other famed dance teachers from the Caribbean, Pearl Primus and Lavinia Williams, were major influences on Fagan. In New York City, Fagan studied with Martha Graham, Jose Limon, Mary Hinkson, and Alvin Ailey, who were all central to his development. Fagan was director of Detroit's All-City Dance Company and principal soloist and choreographer for Detroit Contemporary Dance Company and Dance Theatre of Detroit.
GARTH FAGAN DANCE
Now celebrating its 45th anniversary season, Garth Fagan Dance has been acclaimed as "unfailingly original" by The New York Times, which also named the Company's piece "Mudan 175/39" third of the top six dance watching moments of 2009. Tony award-winning choreographer Garth Fagan's dancers communicate with unbridled energy the depth, precision, and grace of Fagan's work. The Company's "fearless" dancers are "able to sustain long adagio balances, to change direction in mid-air, to vary the dynamic of a turn, to stop on a dime," wrote David Vaughan in Ballet Review. Fagan's ever-evolving dance language draws on many sources: sense of weight in modern dance, torso-centered movement and energy of Afro-Caribbean, speed and precision of ballet, and the rule breaking experimentation of the post-moderns. The Company has been cited for its excellence and originality with a New York Governor's Arts Award and has claimed five winners of "Bessie" Awards (New York Performance Awards): Garth Fagan, Steve Humphrey, Norwood Pennewell, Natalie Rogers, and Sharon Skepple.
The troupe has performed throughout the US, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Near and Middle East, North and South America, New Zealand, Australia, and the West Indies. Foreign tours have included a 13-city tour of the Netherlands; appearances at France's Maison de la Danse and Chateauvallon Festival; Turkey's Istanbul Festival; the New Zealand International Arts Festi- val; Germany's Internationales Tanzfest N.R.W.; Switzerland's Basel Tanz; the Israel Festival in Jerusalem; the Vienna Festival-Tanz; Harare, Zimbabwe, with the United States Information Agency; and the Festival of Two Worlds in Spoleto, Italy. In 1994, the company opened the then-newly renovated American Center in Paris, France. In 1996, principal dancers were invited by the Federation Caledonienne de Danse to perform in La Nuit des Etoiles along with members from the New York City Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, and the Kirov Ballet.
Domestically, the company has performed at such venues as Jacob's Pillow, Spoleto USA, Dance/Aspen, and the first National Black Arts Festival. Performances in New York City venues include BAM (The Brooklyn Academy of Music), City Center, and frequent seasons at The Joyce Theater. In 1993, Garth Fagan Dance went on a national tour with the Wynton Marsalis Septet performing Fagan's critically acclaimed evening-length work "Griot New York." The company was seen nationally on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" in that same piece; "Griot New York" aired worldwide on the PBS "Great Performances-Dance in America" series in the spring of 1995, marking the company's third appearance on that series. Principal dancers Norwood Pennewell and Natalie Rogers participated in The 66th Annual Academy Awards broadcast, joined by principal dancers from seven other major international dance companies. In 2004, the company performed at the historic opening of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, OH, and participated in the grand opening celebration of Frederick P. Rose Hall at Jazz at Lincoln Center; it returned in fall 2005 for its 35th anniversary season in New York City. In 2012, the company returned to BAM for the world premiere of "Lighthouse/ Lightning Rod" with original music composed and arranged by Wynton Marsalis and scenic design by Alison Saar.
EBONY REPERTORY THEATRE (Producer).
Award winning Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT), Los Angeles' only African American professional theatre company, (Actors Equity Contract) now in its eighth year, is the Resident Company and Operator of the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, located at 4718 W. Washington Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90016. Since 2008, ERT productions have established the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center as a hub for quality performances. ERT has produced an amazing array of plays including CROWNS, August Wilson's Two Trains Running, A Raisin In The Sun (Lorraine Hansberry), Fraternity (Jeff Stetson), and presented well known dance such as Complexions Ballet, in an intimate evening paying tribute to dance pioneer Donald McKayle, and Rafael Amargo & Compañia de Flamenco, performing Tiempo Muerto. Ebony Repertory Theatre's stage production of Phillip Hayes Dean's Paul Robeson, starring Keith David, was welcomed by loyal patrons and new theatre goers alike, receiving rave reviews by many of Los Angeles' theatre critics. ERT's most recent production of "The Gospel At Colonus" was a LA Times "Critic's Choice" and a "... must attend performance."