Saturday, April 10, 2010

Garth Fagan Dance

Having spent a few hours at the nicely climate-controlled office I headed out to Virginia. A good acquaintance who's doing his PhD at the George Mason University offered me a free ticket to the Garth Fagan Dance performance at the Center for the Arts there.

I saw Garth Fagan's troupe several years before, and I was fairly impressed back then. I was looking forward to seeing them again, and to say I was not disappointed would be a severe understatement. The three-part program offered a representative view of Mr. Fagan's oeuvre, from 1981 Prelude to 2001 Translation/Transition. Astonishingly, the 1981 piece still looks choreographically fresh and vibrant. But the highlight of the evening for me was the second part, Mudan 175/39, with the score featuring the works by contemporary Chinese American composers Zhou Long, Tan Dun, and Lei Liang. The beauty of geometric and spacial patterns created by groups of dancers was accentuated by their stunningly sleek and colorful costumes, and the unmistakable Faganesque choreography featuring dancers in a stunning balancing acts was in harmony with the tonally and rhythmically complex musical pieces. The overall impression was simply mesmerizing.

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Fagan is one of those rare artists, like Cunningham or Taylor, who have managed to invent their own recognizable choreographic vocabulary. The venue at Mason in nice but, truly, his company should be performing at the Kennedy Center.

Photos: Garth Fagan Dance

Today's highlight: I was very grateful to my acquaintance for bringing me to such a great performance. He recently returned from the trip to his native China, and he surprised me by bringing a couple of very nice presents for me: a bookmark with a plate that resembles a particular face makeup in Chinese opera, and a decoration featuring Sun Wukong, a main character in the classical Chinese epic novel Journey to the West (西遊記).

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