Nashville Ballet’s Production of Lucy Negro Redux, featuring Caroline Randall Williams, Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi

March 30, 2022 at 7:30 pm
June Swaner Gates Concert Hall

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Lucy Negro Redux is an original ballet choreographed by Nashville Ballet’s Artistic Director Paul Vasterling based on Caroline Randall William’s book of poetry of the same name. The piece explores the author’s thesis that the “Dark Lady” and the “Fair Youth” – the subjects and inspiration of hundreds of Shakespeare’s love sonnets – were undoubtedly a black woman and a young man, respectively.  

The story is strung together by a score featuring original compositions by Rhiannon Giddens and spoken word from William’s book. The ballet explores themes of love, otherness, equality and beauty. As the piece alternates in time, Elizabethan and present day, we see through dance how relationship themes transcend time. The audience is privy to the exploration of Shakespeare’s romantic connection to both the male Fair Youth and the black Lucy Negro. Ultimately, in experiencing Lucy Negro, the narrator, and thus the audience, finds a powerful female voice. 

Nashville Ballet 

Since its founding in 1986, Nashville Ballet has grown to become the largest professional ballet company in Tennessee, presenting a varied repertoire of classical ballet and contemporary works by noted choreographers, including original works by Artistic Director Paul Vasterling. 

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Caroline Randall Williams 

Caroline is a writer and educator in Nashville. She is co-author of the Phyllis Wheatley Award-winning The Diary of B.B. Bright, and the NAACP Image Award-winning Soul Food Love. The Cave Canem Fellow has been published in multiple journals, essay collections and news outlets, including The Iowa Review, The Massachusetts Review and The New York Times. Her debut collection, Lucy Negro, Redux, was published in 2016. 

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Rhiannon Giddens 

Rhiannon is the co-founder of the Grammy Award-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, in which she plays banjo and fiddle. Her critically acclaimed solo debut, the Grammy-nominated album Tomorrow Is My Turn, masterfully blends American musical genres like gospel, jazz, blues and country, highlighting her extraordinary emotional range and dazzling vocal prowess. Freedom Highway was her 2017 follow-up, which featured nine original songs along with a traditional song and two civil rights-era songs. She has been awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, the BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for Singer of the Year and the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Bluegrass and Banjo. 

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