Acclaimedchoreographer Garth Fagan to speak
He is the creator and originator of all the dances in the megahit The Lion King and took home the coveted Laurence Olivier and Tony Awards, making him one of a select few people to win both. Garth Fagan is Jamaica-born and his father was educated at Oxford University in the 1930s. Not surprisingly, the elder Fagan was horrified when his son chose dance as a career. Fagan departed our shores at age 21, and to say his story is incredible is an understatement. One of several speakers for tomorrow's exciting TEDx Jamaica session at The Courtleigh Auditorium, The Gleaner's Public Affairs Editor, Barbara Ellington asked him the following questions in an email interview.
BE: Can you recall the moment you realised you had real talent as a dancer?
GF: When Alma Hilton did 'Once Upon A Seaweed' and I danced as one of the three shoeshine boys with Rex Nettleford and Eddie Thomas. They were mature, experienced dancers and I was a teen.
BE: How long did it take to choreograph the Lion King moves?
GF: I had been on safari about five times before the Lion King so I was impressed by the majesty and excitement of the animals. I worked for eight weeks at 890 Broadway, eight weeks in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and four weeks at The New Amsterdam Theatre in New York City. Prior to that, conceptually, I was thinking about The Lion King for about three months and worked with my assistants Norwood Pennewell and Natalie Rogers-Cropper for about a month.
BE: You have won the Laurence Olivier and Tony awards, what other artistic feats would you like to conquer?
After winning the Tony and the Olivier and several other awards including the Helpmann Award, A Bessie award, a Dance Magazine Award, The Samuel Scripps award and a Fulbright 50th anniversary Distinguished Fellow, I guess an Emmy and a Oscar.
BE: Did your dad ever come to terms with your career choice, what about your mother?
GF: Yes. Thank God! He explained that if he had known that there would be intellectual content and cultural rigour in my work, he would never have fought me and my Mom. She was always in my corner and more involved in the arts than my Dad.
BE: What are you working on now that you can tell us about?
GF: I just finished premiering my newest Dance Lighthouse/Lightning Rod at Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), with original music composed and arranged by Wynton Marsalis and scenic design by Alison Saar. I am currently restaging 'From Before' at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre which premieres on November 30, and a big 'hush-hush' project.
BE: If you could relive one moment in your life, what would it be?
GF: I don't have a clue, I'll have to get back to you on that one.
BE: What can the audience expect to hear from you?
GF: The truth, excitement and detail of a hard-worked, interesting and demanding life, the great personal award of seeing my dancers grow from teenagers to responsible adults, parents and award winners and an overwhelmingly thankful feeling of pleasure and joy when people of different cultures, races and ethnicities from around the world applaud my work.
TEDx Jamaica session
Be sure to attend tomorrow's exciting TEDx Jamaica session at The Courtleigh Auditorium where you will be inspired by individuals from the worlds of business, dance, sport, music, medicine and science who have defied the odds, scaled great heights and who define our theme 'Accomplish What You Will'.
Speakers include: Donovan Bailey, Donna Duncan-Scott, Garth Fagan, Felecia Hatcher, Paul Ramphal, Jon Robertson, Melvin Tennant and Shirley J. Thompson. Their credentials cover the gamut from:
Internationally acclaimed choreographer of Disney's The Lion King winner of the prestigious Laurence Olivier and Tony Awards
Business/social entrepreneur, author and speaker. Honoured by the White House as one of the Top 100 entrepreneurs under 30.
Two-time Olympic champion, three-time world champion, Commonwealth champion, world record holder, track and field legend
Former child prodigy; world-renowned concert pianist and conductor.
Award-winning corporate leader and entrepreneur.
Pensioner-turned-conservationist who is saving and expanding Jamaica's endangered hawksbill sea turtle population.
Composer/conductor/film-maker who synthesises classical music with popular styles including reggae, hip-hop and rap.
Visit:http://www.tedxjamaica.com/ for further details.
Get your tickets early at Cannonball Café and Bookophilia.