Lucy Negro Redux

Lucy Negro Redux is an original ballet choreographed by Nashville Ballet’s Artistic Director Paul Vasterling based on Caroline Randall Williams’s book of poetry of the same name.

The piece explores the author’s thesis that the “Dark Lady” and the “Fair Youth” — the subjects and inspiration of hundreds of Shakespeare’s love sonnets — were undoubtedly a black woman and a young man, respectively. A non-linear story of two present-day and three historical characters: the author/narrator, a professor, William Shakespeare, Lucy Negro and Fair Youth, is held together by a score featuring original compositions by Grammy Award-winning artist, Rhiannon Giddens, and spoken word from Williams’ book (performed by Williams herself).

The ballet explores themes of love, otherness, equality and beauty. As the piece alternates in time, Elizabethan and present day, we see through dance how relationship themes transcend time. The audience is privy to the exploration of Shakespeare’s romantic connection to both the male Fair Youth and the black Lucy Negro. Ultimately, in experiencing Lucy Negro, the narrator, and thus the audience, finds a powerful female voice.

“It is a full-throated, full-bodied exploration of love and desire, exultation and loss, belonging and expulsion, ownership and autonomy. A mixed-media, multigenre embodiment of a scholarly theory about an arcane point of literary history might not seem like fertile ground for enchantment, but it was absolutely transformative.” ~ Margaret Renkl, The New York Times

Lucy Negro Redux, Touring 2021-2022

Nashville Ballet’s landmark production featuring original score composed and performed live by Rhiannon Giddens. Based on texts by acclaimed Nashville author Caroline Randall Williams.

Caroline Randall Williams is an award-winning poet, young adult novelist, and cookbook author as well as an activist, public intellectual, performance artist, and scholar. Born and raised in Nashville Tennessee, the Harvard graduate makes change possible by bringing art and joy into the room in such a way that the grit of real challenge and limits may become eclipsed by analysis, innovation, and skill. Visit her online at

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