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Garth Fagan, choreographer for the hit Broadway production of The Lion King, will present Trips and Trysts and Woza, as well as other works at Lafayette’s Williams Center for the Arts at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Tickets cost $20 and may be purchased by calling the box office, (610) 330-5009.

The Garth Fagan Dance Company includes “Bessie Award” (New York Performance Award) winners Norwood Pennewell, Steve Humphrey, Natalie Rogers, and Sharon Skepple, as well as Chris Morrison, Micha Willis, Bill Ferguson, and Joel Valentin. They are joined by newcomers Nicolette Depass, Aisha Benjamin, Erin Barnett, and Diarra Cummings.

Fagan is choreographer and C.T. Oakes is lighting designer for the evening’s performances. The program begins with Prelude: Discipline is Freedom, written in 1981 and revised in 1983, with music by Abdullah Ibrahim and Max Roach. Music for the next selection, Trips and Trysts, was written last year by Wynton Marsalis. Two Pieces of One: Green was written in 1998, with music by Tony Williams (1945-1997) and Cristobal de Morales. Following intermission, Woza will be performed to the music of Lebo M.

“The handsome, exotic, completely concentrated Fagan dancers move as if they were born speaking Fagan’s language and they love the feel of it in their bodies,” states Vogue magazine. “The dancers he has trained,” according to Ballet Review, “are virtuosi, no doubt about it, and fearless too, able to sustain long adagio balances, to change direction in mid-air, to vary the dynamic of a turn, to stop on a dime.”

Fagan’s singular dance language draws on many sources: the sense of weight in modern dance, the torso-centered movement and energy of Afro-Caribbean, the speed and precision of ballet, and the rule-breaking experimentation of the post-moderns. His work on The Lion King was recognized with the 1998 Tony Award for Best Choreography. He also received the 1998 Drama Desk Award, 1998 Outer Critics Circle Award, 1998 Astaire Award, and the 2000 Laurence Olivier Award for his work on the Broadway musical, which opened in fall 1997.

Fagan’s work in the theatre 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. He has also produced commissions for a number of leading companies, including his first work en pointe, Footprints Dressed in Red, for the Dance Theatre of Harlem; a solo for Judith Jamison, Scene Seen, for the debut of the Jamison Project; Jukebox for Alvin for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre; Never No Lament for the Jose 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.

In August, 1998, Fagan, a native of Jamaica, received that country’s highest honor, a Special Gold Musgrave Medal, for his “Contribution to the World of Dance and Dance Theater.” During the evening before at Prime Minister P.J. Patterson’s Independence Gala, he was presented with the Prime Minister’s Award, a plate bearing the signatures of all the Prime Ministers of Jamaica, acknowledging his achievements.

Mr. Fagan is a professor of the State University of New York and teaches at the State University of New York at Brockport. In 1996, he was one of only 25 American scholars, artists, professionals, and public figures to receive the title Fulbright 50th Anniversary Distinguished Fellow. He is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the three-year Choreography Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and honorary doctorates from the Juilliard School, the University of Rochester, Nazareth College of Rochester, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges. In recognition of his contribution to modern dance, Fagan has received the Dance Magazine Award for “significant contributions to dance during a distinguished career” and the Bessie Award for Sustained Achievement. Other awards include the Monarch Award from the National Council for Culture and Art, the Lillian Fairchild Award, and the Arts Achievement Award from his alma mater, Wayne State University.

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, he studied with Martha Graham, Jose Limon, Mary Hinkson, and Alvin Ailey, who were all key 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.

The Fagan company has been cited for its excellence with a New York Governor’s Arts Award. The troupe has performed throughout the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Near and Middle East, South America, New Zealand, Australia, and the West Indies. It celebrated its 15th anniversary in Harare, Zimbabwe, while on tour for the United States Information Agency. Foreign tours have included a 13-city tour of The Netherlands and appearances at France’s Chateauvallon Festival, Turkey’s Istanbul Festival, the New Zealand International Arts Festival, Germany’s Internationales Tanzfest N.R.W., Switzerland’s Basel Tanz, the Israel Festival in Jerusalem, the Vienna Festival-Tanz, 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.

In 1993, Garth Fagan Dance went on a national tour with the Wynton Marsalis Septet performing Fagan’s critically acclaimed full-evening length work Griot New York. The company was seen nationally on “The Tonight Show Starring Jay Leno” in that same piece, and Griot New York aired worldwide on the PBS “Great Performances: Dance in America” series in the spring of 1995. The broadcast marked the company’s third appearance on “Great Performances: Dance in America”.

In March of 1994, principal dancers Norwood Pennewell and Natalie Rogers were invited to participate in the 66th Annual Academy Awards broadcast. They were joined by principal dancers from seven other major international dance companies, which included the Kirov Ballet, Les Ballets Africains of the Republic of Guinea, the Paris Opera Ballet, the Central Ballet of China, and the National Ballet of Canada. In addition to the many major U.S. cities and college campuses which have hosted the company, they have 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 frequent seasons at the Joyce Theatre.

The Garth Fagan performance is funded in part by the National Dance Project and the New England Foundation for the Arts, with lead funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Philip Morris Companies, Inc.

The Garth Fagan tour of Pennsylvania is supported by a special initiative grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

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