Fagan’s connection to Bearden enriches his choreography

Garth Fagan Dance

Joyce Theater


Watching Garth Fagan’s work, you think, What fabulous dancers! You marvel at their control in off-kilter balances, their softness in space-devouring leaps, their cool in whirling at top speed, their gift for making stillness contemplative. At the same time, you think, What fabulous people! Cultivating their unique beauty and dignity, Fagan makes each member of his company look like a god in the pantheon of his imagination. For his new piece, DanceCollageforRomie, Fagan has also annexed qualities powering the collages of the great American visual artist Romare Bearden, who was his friend. In choreography that suggests a troupe of itinerant entertainers, onstage and off, Fagan echoes Bearden’s vivid juxtaposition of shape, color, and pattern. He draws on Bearden’s ardent social consciousness too, capturing the poignancy of people rich in talent and spirit, if poor in status and material wealth. The accompanying musical collage is odd but apt—Shostakovich, Villa-Lobos, and Jelly Roll Morton. —Tobi Tobias

You can dance in a club if it’s in the new NYU student center

Ballet Hispanico’s Nightclub

Skirball Center


Scenes from Latino club culture unfolding at NYU’s new Jack H. Skirball Center for the Performing Arts are studies in cognitive dissonance, and not just due to the gold pillars flanking the stage. Tina Ramirez’s dancers are gorgeous, the costumes by Paul Tazewell alluring, and the lighting (by Peggy Eisenhauer and Howell Binkley) spectacular, but the choreography (by, in order of appearance, Graciela Daniele, Alexandre Magno, and Sergio Trujillo) does not take into account the difference between club time and theater time—a fatal flaw—so the whole thing, seen by a sober viewer, seems to drag. Moving from a Buenos Aires brothel to a Spanish Harlem social club to a contemporary disco, the sketchy plot follows a man torn between his roots and his desires; what the blonde in the pointe shoes is doing in these places is anybody’s guess. The authentic music (most of which should be live) sketches each era, but the movement is generic Broadway jazz with a range of Latin flavors. —Elizabeth Zimmer

Carnaval meets commedia dell’arte under the big top

Big Apple Circus

Damrosch Park

Through January 11

Now in its 26th year, New York’s homegrown circus is an intimate international spectacle. The terrific new show, Carnevale!, is both powerful and delicate, appealing to the American hunger for witnessing the potential disasters of others as well as our delight in an elegant job well-done. This is not television, boys and girls; a flesh-and-blood guy from Colombia is doing somersaults on the high wire, and if he falls—why did they remove the huge air mattress that was down there a minute ago?—it won’t be pretty. Miraculously, he stays aloft. Dan Kuchar’s designs are particularly endearing this season, luminous with the colors of Venice and Rio, and even Barry Lubin’s classic clown character, Grandma, exhibits an especially artsy flair. —E.Z.

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