The Billy Strayhorn Festival and Tribute
Citywide celebration includes an upcoming performance by the award-winning Joel Hall Dancers
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WHEN the three-month-long Billy Strayhorn Festival culminates with a performance of Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn, the Joel Hall Dancers will be among the performers at the Auditorium Theatre on November 21. Led by the legendary Joel Hall, who opened the Joel Hall Dance Center more than 40 years ago, the award-winning dance group will showcase its unique style that uses the arts to enrich the lives of its community through dance performances and education. “The Joel Hall Dancers express contemporary urban life through dance while educating, entertaining and inspiring their audience,” says Hall, who was recently honored at the African American Arts Alliance 15th Annual Black Excellence Awards. “The signature dance style of JHD incorporates ballet, jazz, modern, funk and street dance, using contemporary jazz and house music to create an innovative and continuously evolving dance style that is appealing, relevant and approachable for those frequently underserved by the arts.”
Hall, who received the African American Arts Alliance’s distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award last year, was honored last month as “Best Choreographer” and his production of Anja: The Unexpected earned the entire cast an award for “Outstanding Achievement in Dance––Overall Performance.”
Joel Hall, founder of the Joel Hall Dancers & Center, will bring his dance group to the Auditorium Theatre for a performance in tribute to legendary musician Billy Strayhorn.
At the Auditorium Theatre’s celebration for Strayhorn, who would have been 100 years old, the Joel Hall Dancers will be joined by other noted entertainers, including Broadway star Darius de Haas, cabaret artist Joan Curto, arranger/orchestrator/pianist Alan Broadbent (with the Too Hot to Handel orchestra) and The Rookery Festival Chorus, a 30-voice-all-male choir arranged by Bill Chin.
Strayhorn was a renowned jazz composer, pianist, lyricist and arranger who wrote timeless compositions such as “Take the ‘A’ Train,” “Lush Life” and “Satin Doll” during his 30-year collaboration with legendary bandleader and composer Duke Ellington.
Leading up to Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn, there are other Strayhorn events scheduled in the citywide celebration, including the Chicago Human Rhythm Project at Jazz Showcase on November 11, featuring Strayhorn’s music and his association with tap dance; "Old Town School of Folk Music Presents The Strayhorn Fringe Festival: Billy Like You’ve Never Heard Him Before" on November 14 at Szold Hall; WDCB’s Billy Strayhorn Centennial Symposium, presented by 90.9fm WDCB, November 20 at College of DuPage; and the Gala Benefit Celebrating The Billy Strayhorn Festival on November 21 at 5 p.m. at the Hilton Chicago. The 8 p.m. performance of Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn follows at the Auditorium Theatre.
For more information and tickets, go to www.auditoriumtheatre.org.
Billy Strayhorn, an acclaimed pianist and composer, collaborated with bandleader Duke Ellington for 30 years.