Who is Garth Fagan?
(taken from his website)
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 40th Anniversary season. A Tony and Olivier award winner, Fagan continually renews his own distinctive dance vocabulary, which 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. “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.
For his path-breaking choreography for Walt Disney’s The Lion King, Fagan was awarded the prestigious 1998 Tony Award for Best Choreography.
A little after noon I drove down to Hartwell Hall for a performance. The Greater Brockport Development Corporation was presenting it's second booking for the season. The only problem...it had to be moved from the Welcome Center at the Canal to the Strasser Dance Studio because of bad weather...which ended up being a good thing.
Many of you have seen this building before as this is the door I go in, to get to the Saturday African Drumming sessions with Khalid Saleem.
It's a perfect space for the Garth Fagan Dance School Ensemble.
Today William J. Ferguson II (Artistic/Administrative Liasion and Personal Assistant to Garth Fagan) showed us what this group is all about.
Garth Fagan Dance School
"Garth Fagan Dance School [GFDS] provides weekly dance classes for children, teenagers and adults – taught by current and former members of Garth Fagan Dance, as well as additional instructors trained in Fagan Technique. GFDS has partnered with the City of Rochester, Urban League of Rochester and Rochester Health Association, among others, to bring dancers into urban recreation centers and city schools to promote a ‘healthy lifestyles’ initiative. Students studying Fagan Technique not only learn from and interact with dancers at the top of their profession, but also gain lifelong values of self-esteem, confidence, respect, self-discipline, responsibility and leadership."
This particular ensemble was made up of kids ranging from 6-19, most of whom have been part of the group for some time. I believe the oldest has been there for 13 years and of course the 6 year olds are just starting.
Bill Ferguson has an amazing relationship with these students. You can just feel the love and respect they have for him...in return, they work hard and perform beautifully. They are invited to venues in and out of the Rochester area and have the opportunity to perform annually at one of the Garth Fagan Dance concerts.
This young man was stealing the show.
Before they performed, there was a half-hour warm up.
The first half was on the floor and the second standing. It's so important to be warmed up properly...
While they were taking a water break, we were able to ask questions and had the opportunity to hear from the school's director.
Check out this little 6 year old girl.... Can you imagine how far she is going if she is that good already?
I know I keep saying this, but one more time! For a small town, we have got a lot going for us. Kudos to Bill Ferguson and the Garth Fagan Dance School Ensemble and
many thanks to the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor and the New York Folklore Society for supporting this program. We are reaping the benefits.
When I first starting teaching in Brockport, Garth Fagan was on the faculty at the college.
Not too long ago, there was a boy named Drew who was part of this ensemble, and as of last August he became a member of the Garth Fagan Dance Company. What does that tell you about the caliber of these students? He was there today supporting this group.