A cross-disciplinary tour de force performed by Nashville Ballet, Great Performances: Black Lucy and The Bard explores the love life of William Shakespeare and his muses, the “Dark Lady” and the “Fair Youth,” presenting the idea that these subjects and inspirations in his love sonnets were a Black woman and a young man. Mixing present-day and historical characters, the ballet is set to an original score by GRAMMY-winning musician Rhiannon Giddens and co-composer Francesco Turrisi. Author and performer Caroline Randall Williams narrates the ballet with her own spoken word poetry from the 2015 book on which the show was based, “Lucy Negro, Redux.”
Exploring themes of love, otherness, equality and beauty, the cast includes an ensemble of Nashville Ballet dancers with Claudia Monja leading the cast as Lucy along with Owen Thorne as Shakespeare and Nicolas Scheuer as Fair Youth. Choreographed and directed by Nashville Ballet’s artistic director Paul Vasterling, the ballet was recorded in March 2022. Playing onstage alongside the dancers in front of a minimalist set, musicians Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi play several instruments including violin, banjo, mandolin and piano.