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Season opener! DTH returns to Washington Performing Arts with the world premiere performances of a new ballet honoring American music icon Hazel Scott.

We are honored and delighted to launch our 2022/23 Season with the illustrious Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), a frequent collaborator whose very first D.C. performance Washington Performing Arts was honored to present back in 1973. Now, DTH appears in a cornerstone of our two-season Hazel Scott celebration: the world premiere of a new ballet, Sounds of Hazel: The Hazel Scott Ballet, co-commissioned by Washington Performing Arts, inspired by the life and work of Hazel Scott. A prodigiously gifted jazz and classical pianist as well as a singer and actress, Scott enjoyed enormous fame in the mid–20th century—a top recording artist and star of stage, silver screen, and television. (In one of her most famous movie roles, she performed on two pianos simultaneously—a daredevil feat recreated by singer/pianist Alicia Keys in a tribute to Scott during the 2019 Grammy Awards broadcast.) Ms. Scott, also known for her fervent civil rights activism, suffered persecution at the height of her fame amid the hysteria of McCarthyism. Her career irrevocably damaged, Scott lacks the name recognition today of other iconic performers of her era. At long last, the legacy of this pioneering Black female artist is being revived and celebrated afresh by Washington Performing Arts, Ms. Keys, the Library of Congress, and others.

It is fitting, then, that this new appreciation of Hazel Scott is spearheaded by a creative team of contemporary Black female artists, including DTH founding member and artistic director Virginia Johnson, choreographer Tiffany Rea-Fisher, and composer Erica Lewis-Blunt. In Rea-Fisher’s words: “Hazel Scott was a diva with a capital ‘D,’ but she was also super-grounded. 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 not only not erase her but celebrate her for all that she is and was is really super-super exciting.”

Featured in three performances this October, this new ballet will be joined on the program by several more of DTH’s signature, innovative works.

Presented in partnership with CityDance.

National Endowment for the Arts Logo

Washington Performing Arts's Hazel Scott 101st Birthday Celebration is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, Lydia Micheaux Marshall, Dr. Gary Mather and Ms. Christina Co Mather, Barbara Myers and Tom Gallagher, and Adam Clayton Powell III and Irene M. Solet.

Special thanks to the following lead supporters of Washington Performing Arts’s mission-driven work: Jacqueline Badger Mars and Mars, Incorporated; the National Capital Arts and Cultural Affairs Program and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts; D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities; and the Dallas Morse Coors Foundation for the Performing Arts.


DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities