David Roussève/REALITY: "Halfway to Dawn"
David Roussève’s latest work is an evening-length blend of dance, music, video, text, theatre, and visual design that seeks to redefine biography and find the truth of the life of composer Billy Strayhorn. As Duke Ellington’s main arranger and writing collaborator, Strayhorn (1915-1967) wrote or co-wrote Ellington signatures like "A Train," "Satin Doll," "Something to Live For," and "Rain Check." Being gay, out, and living in Harlem in the 1940s to 1960s, however, he never received full credit for his work. He chose instead to lead a remarkably private life, whether by choice or, as suggested by biographer David Hadju, because he knew that the larger public would not be as accepting of his sexual identity as was the Ellington extended family. Hajdu writes, “It really was truth or consequences, and Billy went with truth.” Choreographer, writer, director, and filmmaker Roussève is a Guggenheim Fellow and is a professor of choreography with UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance. He founded the dance-theatre company REALITY in 1988, which has toured throughout the U.S., Europe, and South America.