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Garth Fagan Dance delivers new spirit-lifting work

An evening spent with Garth Fagan Dance is a humanity-affirming event, even though his works — mirroring life’s tough blows — rattle the performers’ bodies and test their spirit.

That’s because Fagan, the master of his own modern dance brew (and the Tony Award-winning choreographer for Disney’s “The Lion King”) returns repeatedly to the sunny side. This clear-eyed realism mixed with buoyancy came out in a movement language of contrasts and dualities at the company’s weekend performances, presented by Ebony Repertory Theatre at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center in L.A.

Appreciating them for their surface values alone, the dances present a stream of visual surprises; a deeper dive into the gestures inspires the audience to share in Fagan’s ecstasy.

Now leading his Rochester, N.Y.-based group into its 47th season, Fagan is ever prolific. He presented two West Coast premieres Friday night: “A Moderate Cease” by principal dancer Norwood Pennewell, and Fagan’s “In Conflict.”