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Landscape for 10 – Garth Fagan

November 6, 2009

Although the title would suggest otherwise, 9 dancers are placed on the stage in deep blue shiny unitards. The piece is set to the entire 77th opus of Johannes Brahms Violin Concerto in D. The movement begins small and in unison as the dancers move in and out of beautifully constructed body lines, at times moving quickly and with force and other times slowly and with intention. The first section of the dance is set to all of section one of the opus and runs seamlessly into section two.

Landscape for 10 - Garth Fagan

Credit: Steve Labuzetta

Violin Concerto in D, Opus 77, Section 1:

Violin Concerto in D, Opus 77, Section 2:

As soon as the first note of Section 2 was played, I was immediately taken by surprise. I am not an avid classical music listener but I recognized this song. Specifically from David Berkey’s famous piece, Sentinel, choreographed in 1990, two years later.

Sentinel - David Berkey

Credit: Michael Williams

Sentinel is a quartet choreographed at the end of David Berkey’s career and tells a story of passing knowledge and life on to a younger generation. It’s a beautiful and lyrical dance that makes use of the dynamics within the music for powerful leaps during intense upsurges and quiet deliberateness during lulls. Garth Fagan does not do this. In fact there is no transition from the first song to the next within the dance, the dancers just continue on and ignore any of the emotional pushes of the music. Even to the point where the music seems hardly to affect the audience.

The music continues on.

Violin Concerto in D, Opus 77, Section 3:

As the dance progresses, phrases from the begining continue to appear in random and sometimes unpredictable ways. The partnerings shift and both women and men take each other’s roles. One partner is slowly lifted from the floor by the standing partner to a position with one leg on the ground and the other lifted high above and behind the head. This is juxtaposed with quck flapping arms and direction changes. All with a continuous flow.

Although the this dance and that of David Berkery are very different. It was difficult not to see the other dance while watching this one. The music didn’t punch me the way it would have had I not already seen it performed under an entirely different circumstance. Instead of watching the movement, I couldn’t help but compare the two immediately and decide that this one certainly wasn’t using the music the way I would expect from seeing the previous dance first.

Many times within the dance world, two or more dances will be choreographed to the same song. Especially with such attractive composers such as Phillip Glass, Steve Reich or any number of well known classical scores, it can be difficult to make a song your own. I have been told that at dance festivals it is incredibly important to be prepared for the possibility that two pieces will use the same music and to figure out a solution.

Have you seen both of these dances? Which did you see first?

When have you seen modern dances using the same music? How did it affect you?

Do the multiple uses of a single music piece create a deeper cultural understanding of the music or should each dance’s use be considered separately?

Were you upset when  your ‘Single Ladies’ interpreation get lost in the avalanche of youtube videos?

November 1st, 2009, 7:30pm
Joyce Theater
New York City, New York

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