The Portland Jazz Festival brings a single dance event to its lineup when it joins with White Bird at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 22, in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
And a collaboration of jazz, dance and art “Griot New York” is. It will be performed by the 14-member New York City-based Garth Fagan Dance.
Tony Award-winning choreographer Garth Fagan’s masterwork, created in 1991, depicts scenes of the African-American experience in New York City (February is also Black History month). The piece explores the cacophony, conflicts, compromises and lyricism of the cityscape as it unfolds into eight scenes, depicting radically different moods, places and moods of the city and its residents.
Griot, the dance’s namesake, is a West African storyteller who transfers history through poetry, song and dance. Expect to see a mix of ballet, jazz, African, Caribbean, Broadway, modern and social dance. These dancers have been praised for presenting their parts rigorously and lyrically, while creating “an affirmation of modern dance as a preeminent expressive idiom of the century,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Increasing the performance’s collaborative character is Wynton Marsalis’ score, “Citi Movement.” Critics call the music melodic, haunting and celebratory. (Marsalis’ brother, Branton, will perform with Joey Calderazzo 3 p.m. Feb. 26 at the Newmark Theater as part of the jazz festival.)
Sets are designed by sculptor Martin Puryear, adding another dimension of artistic cooperation to this performance.
As well as winning other awards, Fagan, who has been called “one of the great reformers of American dance” and “a true original,” won a Tony in 1998 for his choreography of “The Lion King.” His company is in its 41st season. This piece aired on PBS in 1995 as part of “Great Performances — Dance in America.”
Tickets are $25-$64 and available at www.whitebird.org and at the Portland Center for Performing Arts box office without ticket fees. Find additional tickets by calling 1-800-380-3516, but you will pay a fee.
Check out Garth Fagan Dance in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lRPRR_OsSo