About From Before
Jamaican-born choreographer Garth Fagan – a Tony Award winner for The Lion King – expertly distills the dance traditions of his heritage to display movement in its purest form. In this ensemble work, undulating torsos move independently of gyrating hips, and arms and legs cut through space with an arresting display of strength. Tableau-like moments of stillness are juxtaposed against fiery solos. The music further echoes the West Indian tradition with a rhythmic, uplifting score composed by Trinidadian Grammy winner Ralph McDonald.
Mr. Fagan said of his work: “From Before was looking back at my origins in the West Indies and seeing how I could take away all the trimmings and the costumes of African or Caribbean dance and strip it right down to the bare bones.” He attributed its popularity with audiences all across the world to “the fluidity of Caribbean dance, the polyrhythms of African, the precision of ballet and the strength and weight of modern dance.”
Fagan also noted that “it’s most important that you know the traditions of your art form. Then you can go ahead and break it and alter it and do it in retrograde, but it’s most important that you’ve got a foundation. Then you can build all kinds of miraculous temples on it.”
Leadership support for this Company premiere was provided by American Express.
This production has also been made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.
Garth Fagan is the founder and artistic director of the internationally-acclaimed company Garth Fagan Dance. He has also choreographed for a number of other leading companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Jose Limón, and New York City Ballet. Among his many honors are Tony and Olivier Awards for his choreography of the Broadway musical The Lion King, the Samuel H. Scripps American Dance Festival Award, the Dance Magazine Award for “significant contributions to dance during a distinguished career,” the “Bessie” Award for Sustained Achievement, and the Order of Distinction in the rank of Commander from his native Jamaica. Mr. Fagan began his career on a Latin American tour with Ivy Baxter and her company. Baxter, Pearl Primus and Lavinia Williams were major early influences. Then in New York, he studied with Martha Graham, Jose Limón, Mary Hinkson, and Alvin Ailey, who were all central to Mr. Fagan’s career.