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Garth Fagan Dance Celebrates 51st Season in Rochester and Honors “Family Circle of Legends”

Staff report

Virtual Presentation of the Jamaican dance “Kumina” a dance that strongly influenced Garth Fagan’s masterpiece “From Before.” Photo taken from

Garth Fagan Dance is celebrating its 51st year of cultural enrichment through dance education and performances from 1970 to 2021 with performances Dec. 2-5 at the downtown Theater at Innovation Square, 100 South Clinton Ave.

The celebration is expected to feature choreography and performances by members of Garth Fagan Dance’s “Family Circle of Legends,” which includes long-tenured company members Norwood Pennewell (42 years), Natalie Rogers-Cropper (32 years) and William J. Ferguson II (32 years).

Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 3 at 8 p.m.
Dec. 4 at 2 and 8 p.m.
Dec. 5 at 2 at 8 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $39 to $59.

Garth Fagan Dance is highlighting several of its special pieces, including The North Star, a Tony, Olivier and Helpmann award-winning creation honoring Frederick Douglass. The North Star also features two members of Fagan’s Family Circle of Legends, Steve Humphrey and Natalie Rogers-Cropper. Humphrey is the company’s first Bessie award-winner and only original member to continue his tenure of 50 years— performing since the 1970s. Rogers-Cropper is also a Bessie award winner and performs as Frederick Douglass’ mother in the piece.

Fagan Family Circle Legend Norwood Pennewell (also a Bessie award-winner) will present his new work “Dreamer,” with music by Eastman Music School alumnus Baljinder Sekhon. The piece includes the Garth Fagan Dance Student Ensemble.

“Garth Fagan Dance is like a phoenix,” said William J. Ferguson, II, executive director and member of the company’s Family Circle of Legends. “These times [COVID-19] have brought unprecedented challenges to many arts and cultural organizations in our region. But, through it all, we have continued to create, perform, provide instruction, and develop community partnerships that will secure and grow Garth Fagan Dance. We have come out of the ashes stronger and ready for the next fifty years and beyond.”

Garth Fagan Dance is well-established in the Rochester community and has earned the distinction of being internationally acclaimed. Collectively, Pennewell, Rogers-Cropper and Ferguson are leading and continuing the company’s legacy.

Emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic postponed Garth Fagan Dance’s 50th anniversary celebration. This year the company hopes to host a lobby meet-and-greet session with its entire company after each afternoon and evening performance under existing COVID-19 protocols.