STG co-commissions world-premiere Hazel Scott Ballet
A new ballet by Dance Theatre of Harlem—and co-commissioned by STG—celebrates the legacy of Hazel Scott, a jazz legend and civil rights hero. The Pacific Northwest premiere of the new work is at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Nov. 5, 2022 at the Paramount. Prices start at $25 and can be purchased at stgpresents.org.
Can ballet help correct the historic record? Seattle Theatre Group (STG) is co-commissioning a new ballet by Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) that's inspired by the late Hazel Scott, an innovator who radically redefined piano jazz—as well as what it meant to be a Black artist and Black woman in America. Scott was accepted into Juilliard at only 8 years old and would later go on to become a movie star, the first Black American to host a weekly T.V. show, and an outspoken critic of racial discrimination. Sadly, the anti-communist surge of the 1950s robbed Scott of her legacy. After being blacklisted, she lost bookings, advertisers, managers, and opportunities.
Today, Seattle Theatre Group is proud to be co-commissioning Dance Theatre of Harlem's new ballet which will help to ensure that Scott's story lives on.
"Unfortunately, there's not much of a public infrastructure for funding art in the United States. Thus, it's important for presenters like STG to step up and help ensure the pipeline of great new work for the future, and for the arts ecosystem," said Jack McLarnan, Manager of Performing Arts Programs at STG.
The world-premiere Hazel Scott ballet makes its Pacific Northwest premiere at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Nov. 5 at the Paramount Theatre in a mixed-repertory program that also includes Higher Ground, choreographed by Robert Garland with music by Stevie Wonder—plus Passage, choreographed by Claudia Schreier with music by Jessie Montgomery.
"Hazel Scott was a diva with a capital 'D,' but she was also super-grounded," said choreographer Tiffany Rea-Fisher. "She was not afraid to be raw and rough while also being glamorous. Her erasure from history was intentional because she was so audacious. People actively tried to erase her—so to be able to celebrate her for all that she is super-super exciting."
Joining Rea-Fisher on the creative team is DTH founding member and artistic director Virginia Johnson and composer Erica Lewis-Blunt.
Watch the video below to get a sneak peek behind the scenes of DTH's "Sounds of Hazel"