THE JUST AND THE BLIND
Commissioned by Carnegie Hall
Premiered March 5, 2019
Conceived and written by Marc Bamuthi Joseph
Original musical score by Daniel Bernard Roumain
Directed by Michael John Garcés
Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Spoken Word
Daniel Bernard Roumain, Violin/Piano/Electronics
Drew Dollaz, Choreographer/Dancer
David Szlasa, Projection Designer
Xia Gordon, Animator
Lisa Armstrong, Journalist
Rika Iino, Producer
Melissa Higgins, Producer
Poignant and pressing, The Just and The Blind illuminates the unseen and under-heard experiences of incarcerated youth and the realities their families face. Spoken word artist and arts activist Marc Bamuthi Joseph (BAMUTHI) joins forces with long-time collaborator composer/violinist Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR) and street dance pioneer & choreographer Drew Dollaz to explore themes of racial profiling, sentencing and the prison-industrial complex from the perspective of fathers of Brown sons.
In addition to spoken word, music, and dance, The Just and The Blind features the work of the award-winning investigative journalist Lisa Armstrong, the provocative images of photographer Brittsense, and the illustrative talent of Xia Gordon, woven together by media designer David Szlasa under the direction of Michael Garcés.
Centered on the humanity of the historically marginalized, The Just and The Blind provides a framework for the unique voices of the community, striving to humanize the Black and Brown children that are enmeshed in it.
The Just and the Blind was commissioned by Carnegie Hall and presented as part of the 2019 Create Justice Forum.
The Just and the Blind was produced by Sozo Artists, Inc., in partnership with the Sozo Impact Fund and its fiscal sponsor, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, with support from Ford Foundation. Special thanks to Miami Light Project.
ABOUT MARC BAMUTHI JOSEPH
BAMUTHI (Marc Bamuthi Joseph) is a curator of words, ideas and protagonists. His bold poetically-driven work investigates social issues and cultural identity. He is a steadfast believer in empathy as the most valuable currency in building community, and seeks to spark curiosity and dialogue about freedom, compassion, and fearlessness through pioneering arts stewardship and education. A 2017 TEDGlobal Fellow, Bamuthi graced the cover of Smithsonian Magazine as one of America’s Top Young lnnovators in the Arts and Sciences; artistically directed HBO’s “Russell Simmons presents Brave New Voices” and is an inaugural recipient of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship, which annually recognizes 50 of the country’s greatest living artists. Dance Magazine named him a Top Influencer in 2017.
BAMUTHI’s evening length work red black and GREEN: a blues was nominated for a 2013 Bessie Award for “Outstanding Production (of a work stretching the boundaries of a traditional form)” and he has won numerous grants including from the National Endowment for the Arts and Creative Capital Foundation. His latest touring work /peh-LO-tah/ is inspired by soccer and Bamuthi's first generation American experience, intersecting global economics, cross border fan culture, and the politics of joy. Recent commissions include the libretto for Home in 7 for the Atlanta Ballet and theater work for South Coast Repertory Theater. He recently collaborated with composer Daniel Bernard Roumain on a new opera co-commissioned and produced by Opera Philadelphia, New York’s Apollo Theater and London’s Hackney Empire, which premiered under the direction of Bill T. Jones in October 2017.
BAMUTHI is the founding Program Director of the exemplary non-profit Youth Speaks, and is a co-founder of Life is Living, a national series of one-day festivals which activate under-resourced parks and affirm peaceful urban life. His essays have been published in Harvard Education Press; he has lectured at more than 200 colleges, has carried adjunct professorships at Stanford and Lehigh, among others, and currently serves as Vice President and Artistic Director of Social Impact at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.
For more information about Marc Bamuthi Joseph, click here.
ABOUT DANIEL BERNARD ROUMAIN
Daniel Bernard Roumain’s acclaimed work as a composer and performer spans more than two decades, and has been commissioned by venerable artists and institutions worldwide. “About as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets” (New York Times), DBR is perhaps the only composer whose collaborations traverse the worlds of Philip Glass, Bill T. Jones, Savion Glover and Lady Gaga.
Known for his signature violin sounds infused with a myriad of electronic and urban music influences, DBR takes his genre-bending music beyond the proscenium. He has been nominated for an EMMY for Outstanding Musical Composition for his work with ESPN; featured as keynote performer at technology conferences; and written large scale, site-specific music for public parks.
DBR’s made his Carnegie Hall debut in 2000 with the American Composers Orchestra performing his Harlem Essay for Orchestra, a Whitaker commission. He went on to compose works for the Boston Pops Orchestra; Carnegie Hall; the Library of Congress; the Stuttgart Symphony, and myriad others.
DBR’s commitment to arts education has garnered long-term relationships with countless universities, orchestras, and performing arts centers. DBR earned his doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Michigan. He is currently Institute Professor of Practice at Arizona State University.
An avid arts industry leader, DBR serves on the board of directors of the League of American Orchestras, Association of Performing Arts Presenters and Creative Capital, the advisory committee of the Sphinx Organization, and was co-chair of 2015 and 2016 APAP Conferences.
DBR recently premiered We Shall Not Be Moved, a chamber opera co-commissioned by Opera Philadelphia and Apollo Theater, with libretto by Marc Bamuthi Joseph, and direction by Bill T. Jones. New York Times called the work "The Best Classical Performance of 2017.
For more information about Daniel Bernard Roumain, click here.
ABOUT DREW DOLLAZ
Drew Dollaz is a pioneer of flexing, a Brooklyn-based genre of street dance also referred to as bone breaking, which is characterized by rhythmic contortionist movements. A self-taught dancer, Dollaz is known for blending flexing with other styles including ballet to create a transcendent hybrid of movement artistry.
Dollaz has performed and partnered with a broad range of artists and brands, including Madonna, Rihanna, Skrillex, Red Bull, Sony, Aloft Hotels, and Billboard. His performances on Madonna’s MDNA tour in 2012 marked the first time flexing appeared on the world stage. Next Level Squad, a New York City collective of flexing dancers in which Dollaz performs and choreographs, has garnered more than a million views on YouTube and has been featured on World of Dance, The Breakin’ Convention, and America’s Got Talent. He recently completed his short dance film En Pointe and looks forward to the release of his acting debut in a feature length film.
Arts education and youth empowerment are core tenets of Dollaz’ work and he currently mentors young dancers and teaches internationally.
For more information about Drew Dollaz, click here.