Following its mission to showcase the latest high-quality creations in contemporary dance, music and theater, the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT) presents the world premiere of David Rousseve’s “Halfway to Dawn.” Shows run Thursday, Oct. 4, through Saturday, Oct. 6, at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 7, at 3 p.m.
Nine modern dancers, video by Cari Ann Shim Sham* and a sound score created by d. Sabela grimes surround the original music by the composer/arranger/political activist Billy “Sweet Pea” Strayhorn. This often under-acknowledged artist authored such iconic tunes as “A Train,” “Chelsea Bridge” and “Lush Life” for Duke Ellington’s orchestra and was a relatively unknown African-American gay man living in Harlem from the ’40s to the ’60s.
Using a movement vocabulary drawn from jazz, modern/contemporary and social dance forms, writer/choreographer/director Rousseve dives deeply into Strayhorn’s life and spirit. Biographical texts are projected within a collage of abstract video images that refer to the emotional undercurrents of these known facts. Promotional materials describe the aural landscape as a “surreal sonic design,” mixing vintage recordings with more current sampling.
“Halfway to Dawn” links Strayhorn’s devoted friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to today’s discussions about race. Promotional materials say the work “redefines ‘biography’ as the intersection of fact, conjecture, comment, abstraction and fantasy; as it seeks to uncover the complicated emotional ‘truths’ of Strayhorn’s life.”
Rousseve and his company, REALITY, will be setting off on a national tour of this work following this weekend’s events here in Los Angeles. The artist is a magna cum laude graduate of Princeton University, a Guggenheim Fellow and a CalArts/Herb Alpert Award in Dance winner. His dance/theater company has performed throughout the UK, Europe, South America and the United States, including three commissions for the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s “Next Wave Festival.”
—Benn Widdey, Culture Spot LA
Location: REDCAT is located at 631 W. Second St., LA 90012 in Walt Disney Concert Hall
Tickets: $12-30 and can be purchased at https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/997376
David Roussève/REALITY – www.davidrousseve.com
Halfway to Dawn Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8A3uOMNkcc
David Roussève Project Interview – https://vimeo.com/278213726