Dance History Quiz | Garth Fagan’s questionable decision

DHQ_T
Fun facts for teachers & students

Dancer-choreographer Garth Fagan won widespread acclaim thanks to his inventive choreography for The Lion King on Broadway, but early in his career, Fagan made what some might consider a questionable decision. What was it?

a. He financed his company’s trip back to his native Jamaica by covertly charging the airfare and hotel bill to his father’s credit card.
b. He lived alone in a tent for four months in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park to research how animals moved.
c. He lobbied Martha Graham to allow men—himself included—to dance her signature work, Lamentation, in the original costume.
d. He agreed to participate in a celebrity boxing match to finance his work with underprivileged students.

Answer
a. He financed his company’s trip back to his native Jamaica by covertly charging the airfare and hotel bill to his father’s credit card.

In a 2016 broadcast of National Public Radio’s “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” Fagan told host Peter Sagal that in 1973, he decided to bring his company, Garth Fagan Dance, to Jamaica. Fagan’s Oxford-educated doctor father would have preferred that Fagan pursue medicine, so it was bold of the younger Fagan to charge the company’s tour expenses to his father’s American Express card. Luckily, the company’s performance seemed to persuade the senior Fagan that his son had found his calling. “When he came to the show, he came backstage. And he was sweetness and light—‘my son, the choreographer,’ ” Fagan told Sagal. “My brothers and sisters are looking at him like, ‘We don’t know this guy.’ But when I told him, ‘Dad, I have to tell you something. I charged this trip on your account. And I’ll pay it back to you in four or five installments,’ that beloved man said, ‘You don’t owe me a dime.’ ”

For more information:
 “Not My Job: We Ask the Choreographer of The Lion King About Lying Kings,” Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! October 22, 2016

 “Garth Fagan,” Dance Heritage Coalition