Fagan, Garth

Fagan, Garth,

1940–, Jamaican-American dancer and choreographer. Jamaican-born, he studied with Ivy Baxter and left the island to dance with her company. Settling (1960) in Detroit, he attended Wayne State Univ. (grad. 1968) and studied with such dance luminaries as Pearl Primus, Martha GrahamGraham, Martha,
1894–1991, American dancer, choreographer, and teacher, b. Pittsburgh. Her family moved from Allegheny, Pa., to Santa Barbara, Calif., when she was 14.
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, and Alvin AileyAiley, Alvin, Jr.
, 1931–89, American modern dancer and choreographer, b. Rogers, Tex. Ailey studied in Los Angeles with Lester Horton, whose strong, dramatic style and views about multiracial casting influenced his choreography and artistic direction.
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. In 1970 he founded his own company, based in Rochester, N.Y., and subsequently called Garth Fagan Dance. Working with this group and creating at least one new dance annually, he has established a signature style that combines the solidity of modern dance, the precision of ballet, rhythms and torso-centered movements from African and Caribbean sources, and an element of postmodern experimentation. He has also choreographed pieces for other dance troupes. Fagan leapt to wide public attention when he created the dances for the Broadway musical Lion King (1997) and won a Tony Award. Since 1972, Fagan has been a professor at the State Univ. of New York, Brockport.

Fagan, Garth

(1941–  ) choreographer, dance teacher; born in Jamaica. Son of Jamaica's chief education officer, he began dancing with the National Dance Company of Jamaica, went on to the Dance Theater of Detroit, and then began teaching dance at the State University of New York (SUNY): Brockport (near Rochester). Working with mostly disadvantaged African-American students, he formed an amateur ensemble in 1970 that soon became known as the Bucket Dance Theater; in the years following, the troupe gained a widening reputation for its exciting blending of Afro-Caribbean with modern dance styles. He maintained his post at SUNY while giving increasing amounts of time to his now internationally recognized dance company. Griot, his 1992 collaboration with composer and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, gained Fagan a wider national exposure.