with Carmen de Lavallade’s danced version of James Weldon
Johnson’s The Creation
Sprague Memorial Hall, 470 College Street, New Haven
The Mitchell-Ruff Duo will give a performance exploring the African American oral traditions of music, worship, and dance in New Haven’s Sprague Memorial Hall (430 College St.) on Thursday, March 12 at 8 pm. The program, which includes the danced version of James Weldon Johnson’s “The Creation” by Carmen de Lavallade, will unfold around a conversation about improvisation, sacred music, and the work of Johnson, the noted Harlem Renaissance writer and civil rights activist. During the evening, the filmed version of last year’s celebration at Battell Chapel of one thousand New Haven Public School children singing “Lift every Voice and Sing” and of Ms. de Lavallade’s dance of the “Creation” from God’s Trombones will be unveiled.
The Mitchell-Ruff Duo has been delighting audiences since 1955, when the pianist Dwike Mitchell and the bassist and French horn player Willie Ruff left Lionel Hampton’s band to strike out on their own. Ruff is a member of the Yale faculty, and in addition to his performance schedule, serves as curator of the Duke Ellington Fellowships, a program that he created at Yale to bring the giants of black American music to New Haven throughout the year to teach at Yale and in the city’s predominantly black public schools: singers like Odetta and Bessie Jones, arrangers like Benny Carter, tap dancers like Honi Coles and instrumentalists like Charlie Mingus and Dizzy Gillespie.
Carmen de Lavallade is also no stranger to New Haven audiences. Formerly on the faculty of the Yale School of Drama as a choreographer and performer-in-residence, she has staged musicals, plays, and operas, and was a member of the Yale Repertory Theatre. Now based in New York, she continues to teach, lecture, and perform.
The concert, presented by Yale Institute of Sacred Music, is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. More information is available at 203/432-5062.