Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans Presents the Louisiana Premiere of David Roussève/REALITY’s Halfway to Dawn

Illuminating the Life of Gay, African-American Jazz Composer Billy Strayhorn through Dance, Music, Projected Text and Video Art Friday, April 5th through Sunday, April 7, 2019

Data Staff Edited Report

The Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans is proud to present the Louisiana Premiere of Herb Alpert Award-winning Choreographer David Roussève’s newest work, Halfway to Dawn, for a limited engagement over three consecutive dates Friday, April 5th and Saturday, April 6th at 7:30 pm and a 2:00 pm matinee on Sunday, April 7th, 2019.

Written, choreographed and directed by Roussève, this vibrant dance-theatre work will be performed by his wonderfully diverse nine-member company REALITY. Halfway to Dawn illuminates the story of African-American Jazz Composer Billy “Sweet Pea” Strayhorn.

Relatively unknown, Strayhorn was Duke Ellington’s main arranger/writing partner, instrumental to the creation of a vastly important body of work in American Music History. Gay, out, and living in Harlem in the 1940’s-60’s, Strayhorn chose to lead a remarkably private life, allowing Ellington to take the spotlight and much of the credit for their joint oeuvre. The arranger/composer was also a passionate activist involved in Civil Rights causes (and a committed friend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.).

The core of Halfway to Dawn is Strayhorn’s music as interpreted through a dynamic dance vocabulary melding jazz, modern/post-modern, 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.

The opening night performance on Friday, April 5, 2019 will be followed by a reception hosted by Xavier University of Louisiana in honor of David’s grandfather, Charles Roussève, and his grandfather’s brother, Ferdinand, who was the first African-American architect in Louisiana. The family started the Roussève Scholarship Fund at Xavier for upper-classmen. This year, 34 students were the recipients of these full tuition scholarships.

Halfway to Dawn’s General admission tickets are $30; CAC members $25. Tickets are on sale here.  For additional information, visit or call 504-528-3805.

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