Garth Fagan

Class of 2023

The Tony Award-winning choreographer not only revolutionized modern dance but also Broadway dance with his groundbreaking work on The Lion King.

Critics have hailed Garth Fagan as “a trail blazer” and “a wizard.” Through his work as a dancer AND choreographer, he developed the Fagan Technique … fusing the weight of modern dance with the vitality of Afro-Caribbean movement … the speed and precision of ballet … and the risk-taking experimentation of post modernism.

The native of Jamaica studied dance with many pioneers, including Alvin Ailey and Martha Graham. In 1970 he founded the beginnings of his Garth Fagan Dance company in Rochester. What started as a hometown dance troupe has evolved into an internationally acclaimed, contemporary American dance company that continuously captivates and inspires diverse audiences around the world. Garth Fagan has single-handedly made Rochester an incubator for world-class contemporary dance.

He has created more than 75 works for the theater and concert stage. The music he explores in his dances represents an eclectic blend of jazz, African, modern, and classical traditions. He has set to movement the scores of many composers, including Brahms, Dvorak, Vivaldi, Miles Davis, Philip Glass, and Wynton Marsalis.

Fagan has been bestowed honorary doctorates from Juilliard, the University of Rochester, and Hobart and William Smith Colleges. For his theater choreography he has earned the highest honor for American theater, the Tony Award, as well as the penultimate for British theater, the Laurence Olivier Award.