A site-specific Juneteenth celebration will be presented by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts as part of its Restart Stages programming. I Dream a Dream That Dreams Back at Me is conceived and curated by poet and artist Carl Hancock Rux and will unfold in four distinct parts of the Lincoln Center campus June 19, beginning at 7 PM ET.
Free tickets to I Dream a Dream That Dreams Back at Me will be made available through a lottery on TodayTix, which opens for entries two weeks before the performance.
Drawing inspiration from the narratives of enslaved people seeking and finding freedom, visitors will begin the evening on Hearst Plaza for “Part I Prelude: Doctrine of Three Angels,” a musical performance chronicling the journey taken by abolitionist and activist Harriet Tubman. Vocalists Nona Hendryx, Marcelle Davies-Lashley, and Kimberly Nichole perform original music by Vernon Reid and Nona Hendryx, with lyrics by Lynn Nottage.
The performers will wear original paper dress creations by interdisciplinary artist Dianne Smith while standing in the Paul Milstein Pool—with the shallow reflecting pool representative of the river at low tide through which Tubman traveled as she rescued and brought enslaved people to freedom.
Audience members will then journey to the next part of the exploration, “Part II Consecration: One Tall Angel Say,” with multidisciplinary artist and singer Helga Davis. Davis, donning another creation by Smith, performs her interpretation of a deconstructed national anthem, reckoning with the question of whether true freedom has ever fully been achieved.
The evening culminates with a performance in Damrosch Park by Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely, “Part III In Service: Another River on the Other Side.” Reagon fuses her no-holds-barred approach to rock, blues, and R&B for a musical experience that encapsulates the spectrum of the freedom journey thus far, culminating in a proclamation of emancipation for the 21st century. As the evening progresses, Reagon and her band will be joined by the performing artists from the first parts of the evening for the conclusion, “Part IV Postlude/Benediction: Freedom Is A Strong Seed.”
“When I was asked by Lincoln Center to craft a program for Juneteenth, I gave careful consideration to this annual celebration that began when enslaved peoples were finally informed (two years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation) that they were ‘free,’” said Rux. “Curated as sight, sound, and sensory perception, this particular dream of ‘freedom’ is carefully constructed from the tattered remnants of abolitionism, and escaped enslaved peoples courageously traversing the shores and deep waters of justice. Perhaps along this journey, all who say they believe in freedom must seek out a collective healing; must not get weary as we continuously embark upon our journey to be free.”
Restart Stages began May 10 with a concert by Tony nominee Norm Lewis, with a May 19 concert by Jose Llana to follow. The programming aims to activate outdoor space through artistic and community initiatives that are developed in conjunction with medical and public health experts to create safe, welcoming, and accessible events. Additional programming marking Juneteenth will be part of Restart Stages and announced in the coming weeks.
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