Alpert Award-winning choreographer David Roussève mixes luscious movement for nine exquisite performers with bold video imagery to invoke the life and spirit of composer and arranger Billy “Sweet Pea” Strayhorn, who wrote such famous hits as A Train, Chelsea Bridge and Lush Life for Duke Ellington’s orchestra, but was a relatively unknown African-American gay man living in Harlem of the ’40s to the ’60s.
The arranger and writer or co-writer of some of Ellington’s greatest works was also an activist who was out as gay, and active in civil rights causes (and a committed friend of Dr. Martin Luther King). The core of Halfway to Dawn is Strayhorn’s music as interpreted through a dynamic dance vocabulary melding jazz, modern/postmodern, and social dance forms.
A surreal sonic design by d. Sabela grimes surrounds vintage recordings of Strayhorn’s songs, while video art by Cari Ann Shim Sham* gives the production a rich visual dynamic.
This is Roussève’s third project with Cari Ann Shim Sham, Chris Kuhl (lighting), and Leah Piehl (costumes); and his second with Lucy Burns (dramaturgy), and d. Sabela grimes (sound design). REALITY performing company members include Bernard Brown, Raymond Ejiofor, Dezaré Foster, Jasmine Jawato, Kevin Le, Julio Medina, Samantha Mohr, Leanne Iacovetta Poirier and Kevin Williamson.
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