David Roussève / REALITY



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“…fans of Toni Morrison especially will recognize the hallucinatory
dilemmas of Roussève’s characters.  Contradictory, perverse, uplifting-
his theater distills the essence of truth, and it is potent.”
–The Star Ledger (Newark)
February 13, 2009

World Premiere January 2014

Co-Commissioned by
Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (University of Maryland)
Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)
Peak Performances (Montclair State University)

Choreographed, written, and directed by David Roussève, Stardust explores the evolving nature of intimacy in our technology-driven, furiously-paced world.  Redefining the coming of age story for the electronic age, the evening-length piece follows an African American gay urban teenager who- never seen onstage- is present only by the emotion laden tweets and text messages he sends. While not autobiographical, like some of Rousseve’s work, it is intensely personal.

The protagonist’s journey is conveyed by the juxtaposition of disparate elements: His unanswered texts and tweets, written by Roussève, are projected onto multiple surfaces in video by Roussève’s long time collaborator Cari Ann Shim Sham. The sound score juxtaposes the intimate romanticism of Nat King Cole standards with the rough-edged, hip-hop inflected original music of d. Sabela Grimes.  Lush, jazz-inflected dancing choreographed by Roussève to the lyricism of Cole is leavened by frenetic, angular representations of the protagonist’s anxious states of mind.  Designer Christopher Kuhl’s lighting will support both the emotional textures and surreal quality of the work.  Dramaturg Lucy Burns will serve as an outside eye to help keep these contrasting elements in dynamic balance.
Stardust is the first REALITY work in which Roussève will not perform lead. He writes, “Removing myself has been exhilarating: I can focus on developing a more dynamic movement language--long a goal--unlimited by my own body.  While it is paramount that my work retain its emotional resonance, my giving the protagonist ‘voice’ only through short written text allows for a more fluid choreographic structure uninterrupted by the character monologues I usually deliver.  I am thrilled by this leap forward in my work.”

photo: Yi-Chun Wu


photo: Valerie Oliveiro




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