Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography
Gawain Garth Fagan (1940– ) (Wikimedia Commons/Creative Commons)
Born in Jamaica, Garth Fagan began his illustrious dance career as a young student and performer with Ivy Baxter Dance Group in Jamaica before he relocated to the United States at age 20. In the 1970s in Rochester, New York, he formed a group of inner city youth into a company that would eventually become Garth Fagan Dance. A visionary choreographer, Fagan developed what DCALAB author Olivier Stephenson describes as a "distinctive style and dance vocabulary consisting of ballet and modern dance along with African and Caribbean rhythms and postures," expressed in acclaimed works for Garth Fagan Dance from "Griot New York" (a collaboration with Wynton Marsalis celebrating the cultural heritage of African- and Caribbean-descended citizens of New York) to "Mudan 175/39" (with choreography set to music by Chinese and Chinese-American composers Zhou Long, Tan Dun, and Lei Liang). Fagan has also choreographed for Dance Theatre of Harlem, the Jose Limon Company, New York City Ballet's 50th Anniversary, Joseph Papp's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and Duke Ellington's street opera "Queenie Pie." His numerous awards and honors in the U.S. and Jamaica include a Tony for Best Choreography for the staged version of Walt Disney's The Lion King. Fagan is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at SUNY Brockport, where he began teaching in 1970.