Duet Program 2nd Edition: 9 dancers, 4 duets, 1 musician and a very funny lady

Nicolette Depass and Norwood Pennewell of Garth Fagan Dance Sponsored by DF member Lois Welk
Nicolette Depass and Norwood Pennewell of Garth Fagan Dance

Year: 2015-2016
DanceForce Member: Lois Welk
Artists: Almanac Circus Dance Theatre, Garth Fagan Dance, Claire Porter
Community Partners: 171 Cedar Arts Center, Addison Youth Center
Audience: 197
County: Steuben

Duet Program (2nd edition): “9 dancers, 4 duets, 1 musician and a very funny lady… “ was designed to build on the momentum of the 1st edition produced in 2014 by deepening our partnerships with 171 Cedar Arts Center and our audience.

Our combined objectives included :

  1. bring Garth Fagan Dance to Corning NY for the first time
  2. provide a high quality performance experience that would otherwise not be available
  3. provide local artists professional development opportunities
  4. learn more about the audience for contemporary dance programming in Greater Corning, NY
  5. create a break even financial outcome for 171 and (new this year)
  6. reach out to under served youth.

From a curatorial perspective, my goals were to create a diverse and balanced program of established and emerging dance artists that reflected a range of aesthetics, with some humor, humanity and awe-inspiring technical moments. After evaluating the project with 171 Cedar staff and reviewing the audience feedback, I can say with confidence that we accomplished 5 out of 6 objectives, only falling short on #5 — the financial outcome.

“9 dancers, 4 duets, 1 musician and a very funny lady”, a mixed bill of mostly duets, was presented at 171 Cedar Arts Center’s Studio Theater (Saturday evening Sept 26 and Sunday matinee Sept 27, 2015). The program included guest artists Garth Fagan Dance, Almanac Dance Circus Theatre, and Claire Porter, plus local artists Patty Ozer and Abigail Donegan. In addition to the two public performances, there were three educational services. Almanac led two workshops for youth hosted by Addison Youth Center. Sade Bully of Garth Fagan Dance taught a master class in Fagan technique at 171 Cedar. A post-performance reception on Saturday gave everyone in the audience a chance to meet the artists.

We diverged from providing educational services to universities (eg Elmira College, Alfred University) and chose to share the artists with underserved youth in rural communities. Almanac Dance Circus Theatre had 47 youth laughing, trying, moving, and listening in workshops hosted in partnership with the Addison Youth Center.

Garth Fagan Dance presented a duet from “Dance For/With Geoffrey”, a homage to the great Geoffrey Holder who passed in 2015. As the audience arrived, a placard posted on an easel encouraged them to google Geoffrey Holder while they were waiting for the show to begin. It created a flurry of engagement, with younger people looking it up faster and reading about Holder to the people around them… Unexpectedly, Garth Fagan himself showed up to read text during the duet. The audience was delightfully surprised to meet the legendary choreographer at the post performance reception.

In support of local artists – the Garth Fagan master class was free to all local dance faculty. Patty Ozer, 171 Cedar Arts Dance Faculty, and Abigail Donegan, a former 171 student, each contributed a duet to the program. Local dance professionals had the opportunity to connect with the guest artists during the master class, tech rehearsals, green room time, and the post performance reception.