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30 YEARS OF MODERN DANCE.

30 YEARS OF MODERN DANCE GARTH FAGAN DANCE JOYCE THEATER NEW YORK, NEW YORK OCTOBER 24-NOVEMBER 5, 2000

Garth Fagan's new Trips and Trysts remained the one constant on the company's ambitious New York presentation of three separate programs over two weeks. Ranging from the 1978 From Before to this newest work, the performances offered a sustained and joyous demonstration of a choreographic consistency that has built into a recognizable style without ever precluding invention. Fagan likes his dancers to balance in improbably geometric configurations, bodies arrowed into dead-straight lines that subtly alter our perceptions of recognizable steps like penche arabesque. He also likes them to curve around one another, so that bodies meld and mesh into sculptural forms, and then send them shooting unexpectedly into the air, limbs unfurling with tight-coiled energy.

Trips and Trysts opens with a woman (Natalie Rogers) alone on stage, glamorous in a gold lame top and black pants (by Mary Nemeck Peterson), and moving with slow control while Wynton Marsalis's music. surges jazzily around her, offering up sounds of trains and traffic. Joined by Norwood Pennewell, they both demonstrate the dipped-body balances, corkscrew changes of position on one leg and improbable backward tilts that a larger ensemble arrives to take up. Fagan gives the group work a flavor of the vernacular, with disco movement, skittering cakewalk and soft-shoe steps, fast tap-dance turns, and the high lifts and dramatic held poses of exhibition ballroom dance. Near the end a razzmatazz group dance takes place in silence before the music returns, and a woman is caught in mid-jete as the lights go down--a transitory encounter that represents all of the others that Fagan has shown with cheerful and unsentimental accuracy in this work.

The sense of community evoked in Trips and Trysts remains constant in all of Fagan's group pieces. In Easter Freeway Processional (1983), set to music by Philip Glass, tenderness underscores the relationships between the eight dancers who might belong to a single family. In Two Pieces of One (1998), the unified group focus somehow makes a whole out of scores by jazz musician Tony Williams and a sixteenth-century religious work by Cristobal de Morales. In the vibrant Woza (1999), the choreographer builds from solo to duo, to two group sections that offer both slavery and celebration as reasons for connectedness.

Connectedness between the dancers and the audience is also a Fagan trademark. The performers look directly at us--here is no subterfuge, no stage personas, just magisterial skill on transparent display.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:SULCAS, ROSLYN
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Feb 1, 2001
Words:417
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