The world premiere of Garth Fagan’s “Madiba,” a celebration of the indomitable life force of Nelson Mandela, one of the spiritual and political giants of the 20th century, will be the centerpiece of Garth Fagan Dance’s 2011 season at The Joyce Theater, October 4-9. The engagement also features a new dance by longtime Fagan performer and muse Norwood Pennewell.
Set to a score by Abdullah Ibrahim, “Madiba,” the name of Mandela’s family clan, is a non-narrative homage to the incandescent strength of the South African leader. The political, personal and social difficulties that he endured, survived and transcended by the sheer force of spirit and profound belief in humanity are suggested through the changes in the dancing and the dramatic transformations of the space.
Norwood Pennewell will present the world premiere of “Liminal Flux,” along with a reprise of “Hylozoic,” Pennewell’s first attempt at choreography, which received great acclaim when it premiered last year. Set to music by Miles Davis and Chancha Via Circuito, “Liminal Flux” plays with perspective and patterning to express the interior journey it explores.
The season will be further highlighted by the return of Fagan’s “Thanks Forty,” the choreographer’s vibrant celebration of his company’s four decade history. Reflecting Fagan’s wide musical interests, the dance is set to cello music by Shostakovich, a melodic percussion score by Angolian composer Bonga Kwenda and Gerald Albright’s music for tenor, alto and baritone sax.
The engagement will also offer selections from some of Fagan’s greatest dances including “Translation Transition,” first performed in 2002. The dance, like the Jazz Jamaica All Stars score that accompanies it, explores the similarities, differences and meeting points between American jazz and the traditional music of Jamaica (ska, reggae and mento). There will also be a solo from “Senku” (2006) and a section from “Until, By & If” (1990). Both works are performed to music by contemporary jazz composer Don Pullen, as where “Memoriam,” created in 2001 to honor the victims and their families of September 11th, is set to a 16th century score by Cristóbal de Morales.
Select evenings will open with “Prelude: Discipline is Freedom,” a classic introduction to Fagan’s singular style distinguished by its complex polyrhythmic demands on the dancers and its fusion of modern, ballet and Afro-Caribbean dance. Created in 1983, the dance is set to music by Max Roach and Abdullah Ibrahim (formerly known as Dollar Brand).