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Flash Review 2, 11-9: Music & Muscles
More Flexing from Fagan & Dancers

By Darrah Carr
Copyright 2001 Darrah Carr

NEW YORK -- Garth Fagan's 11-member company impressed the audience at the Joyce Theater Tuesday with a display of incredible musicality and technical prowess. After each of the evening's three pieces, it was clear that if dance is meant to be an expression of the music, one can go no farther than this. In "Trips and Trysts," set to music by Wynton Marsalis, the dancers all but personified different jazz instruments. During the second-to-last section, nine performers circumvented the stage, with more than enough precise unison to make their renowned "Lion King" choreographer proud. They kept moving after the music stopped, yet, in the silence, I felt I could still hear the music through their bodies.

Having enjoyed his interpretation of silence, I was equally impressed by Fagan's use of stillness in the New York premiere of "Music of the Line/Words in the Shape." In sync with John Adams's cyclical score, Fagan juxtaposed furious sheenahs and quiet balances. His dancers can arrest their motion by extending a leg, or dropping into a deep plie from a turn. At times, two or three would configure their balances together, creating beautiful sculptures from beautifully sculpted bodies. It reminded me of the childhood game "Statues"-- where one is pushed into a spin and must balance wherever one lands. In this case, however, it was the hand of the choreographer that had given the push, the pull, and the re-adjustment during rehearsal, leaving us to simply enjoy the series of unfolding shapes.

In "Mix 25," the shape of one dancer in particular caught my eye. Chris Morrison is a sublime performer. He controls every inch of his lengthy limbs with a blend of sharp precision and utter grace. Featured in the section "Shackles," a very moving, yet not overly literal depiction of captivity, Morrison is the kind of dancer who makes one nod one's head and pause in reflection for a moment, before bursting into applause. Garth Fagan Dance runs through Sunday at the Joyce.

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