Ballet Ashani’s ‘Giovanni’s Room’ is a powerful reimagining of a classic story


Is ballet still relevant? In response to this question, Iyun Harrison, Associate Professor of the Practice of Dance, executive director of Ballet Ashani and the choreographer and director of the new ballet adaption of James Baldwin’s novel “Giovanni’s Room,” chuckled and answered “No.” 

The glamourous ascendancy of kings, the sensational rumors of European nobility and adventures of daring princes – the stories of the classical ballet repertoire are salient in their elitism and exclusiveness, a realm reserved for exalted figures and heterosexual romance. In order to make ballet more relevant, Harrison searched for marginalized voices, and found them in “Giovanni’s Room.” 

Published in 1956, “Giovanni’s Room” captures the tumultuous love affair of David, a young American expatriate unable to come to terms with…

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