Garth Fagan Dance, RIT announce partnership

Messenger Post Media
Monroe County Post

Garth Fagan Dance and Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf are set to start a cooperative, creative connection for students this August. 

GFD has had a longstanding relationship with RIT since 1978. Its home seasons were produced at the NTID Panara Theater in 1997-99, and the dance company most recently performed at the MAGIC studio as a kick-off to Gov. Cuomo’s NY PopsUp events to revive the arts in New York.

Through this new partnership, online or in-person courses may be taught by GFD members, and the organizations will share rehearsal spaces, mentoring and expertise. 

Project collaborations can include using dance and performing art as tools to examine social justice issues; increasing access to dance and performing arts for Rochester City School District students; exploring ways to integrate dance and technology; developing and implementing a dance curriculum at NTID; music programming that focuses on African drumming, jazz ensemble and steel drum band; exploring opportunities to integrate GFD into other areas of RIT curricula, especially those that combine technology, the arts and design; and student co-op opportunities to employ students in arts business and arts management at GFD.

“The opportunity to traverse the nexus of technology and the arts will help demonstrate how the creativity that has produced 50 years of world-class dance can affect dance and technology for years to come,” said William Ferguson II, acting executive director at GFD. “This endeavor will continue a long legacy of creative, communicative, collaborative experiences for Garth Fagan Dance. Now, the work begins.” 

According to Thomas Warfield, director of dance at RIT, more than 500 students are involved in dance classes and clubs, and that number is likely to grow with the partnership. He said having professional dancers involved in teaching students will make it easier to develop a dance minor once curricular enhancements and reviews are studied. 

An informal survey of students involved in dance indicated 70% percent wanted to have dance connected somehow to their majors.

“The students are already thinking about this and they want dance to have some purpose for them beyond the dance studio,” Warfield said. “This is why we need to codify these experiences. I believe this will reinvigorate the students who have been wanting to blend dancing with other disciplines.”

Natalie Rogers-Cropper, school director/assistant rehearsal director, said she is “thrilled that Garth Fagan Dance and RIT can finally be partners. We all look forward to growth and success in our future collaborations and many years of creative and innovative work.”

Garth Fagan Dance is partnering with Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute of the Deaf.