Posts Tagged ‘Garth Fagan’

Playing to the Back Row, with Rhythm

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015
Garth Fagan Dance: Homecoming

Garth Fagan Dance: Homecoming

If you get the chance, venture over to Rochester and check out Garth Fagan Dance this weekend.  Last night’s soul-busting season premiere, held at Nazareth College, included lively numbers such as “Alumni Reunion Romp,” featuring dancers who were members back in the day, and classic pieces, like “Come…Celebrate.”

The nearly 2-hour show on Wednesday was accented with shoulder shimmies and full-bodied, bouncing back slides that are a GFD trademarks, but the real party began when former company members such as Valentina Alexander-Efejuku, Chris Morrison, Bill Ferguson, and Bit Knighton graced the stage.  The GFD alumni have movement for days (or in some cases, for decades)!

Another of our favorites was a visual poem and kinetic montage/home going celebration for artist Geoffrey Holder. This colorful and deeply Caribbean number was enough to wipe away any winter melancholia.  This is the kind of modern dance true fans deserve.

Rochester, you should be proud of your adopted son.

Dancers who Matter

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

MTV has Stevie J and Motown had Stevie Wonder, but for our money, we give our props to Stevie Amazing (aka Steve Humprhey). Steve has been a dancer with Garth Fagan’s company for over 40 years. Garth Fagan Dance is celebrating 45 years this year and kicked off their Rochester season on Wednesday. Glad we know this dude, he’s an inspiration. Big up Steve.

Nobody Knows My Name

Sunday, June 24th, 2012
Jazz Singer Gregory Porter, Soul to the Bone

Jazz Singer Gregory Porter, Soul to the Bone

Saxophone-legend Kenny G may have been the headliner for the first night of Syracuse Jazz Fest on Friday, but Grammy-nominated vocalist Gregory Porter stole the show.

A self-described preachers kid, Gregory impressed those in attendance at Jamesville Beach with songs such as Be Good, On My Way to Harlem, and Mother’s Song.  These Sophistasoultastic cuts conjure up images of the Cosby Show of the 80s, Spike Lee’s early films and even the choreography of Garth Fagan.

His song-writing is vivid and his performance high spirited.

To call Porter a jazz singer may be restrictive. His mature and robust sound may be jazz, but it’s corseted in soul and the cadence of his church rearing.

Gregorty Porter, a singer's singer

Gregory Porter, a singer’s singer

Some singers are vanguards.  Nat had it. Donny had it. Ray had it. Sam had it. Stevie has it and yes Porter too, has that vibe of a pioneer.

Jazz Fest Producer Frank Malfitano even said he was one of the most talented jazz singers of the last 3 decades.

During the finale Porter mesmerized the crowd with 1960 What, a homage to cities such as Detroit. Coincidentally,  Malfitano used to produce that city’s Jazz Fest.

New fans showered Porter with appreciation during an impromptu meet-and-greet beside the stage following his set. Many shared their disbelief that they weren’t familiar with this man.

From now on his reputation in Syracuse is all good.

Dancing with Music: People as Dancers

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

Garth Fagan Dance

I previewed a performance by the Garth Fagan Dance Company that was held at Syracuse University last night.  Garth Fagan is an award winning choreographer and is known by most for his work with the Lion King on Broadway.

The company is on a tour of New York and did a teaching performance featuring veteran dancers Norwood Pennewell and (founding member) Steve Humphrey, both Bessie Award-winners, as well as some of the newer company members.

GFD gave an excerpt from the following: “Prelude–Discipline is Freedom,” “Talking Drums,” featuring Guy Thorne, “Mix 25: Shackles,” as well as the colorful number “Touring Jubilee,” (complete with costumes from the Roaring 20s) featuring Annique S. Roberts.

I’ve seen GFD in New York and Washington, DC.  They have traveled the world, bringing sophisticated yet athletically funky movement to the masses.

What has always amazed me about the company is that the ladies are as strong as the men, and the men are as graceful as the women when on stage. There’s an equality of talent for sure.

SIF Board member Odetta Norton once trained with this group and B. Efejuku’s wife Valentina retired after a wonderful career as a featured dancer.

In a recent interview I found out that Bill T. Jones was once a student of Garth Fagan.

I look forward to seeing Fagan’s homage to visual artist Romare Bearden.

GFD will perform a complete show tonight at Syracuse University.