One of Joel Hall’s signature pieces, Nightwalker premiered in 1979 at the Athenaeum Theater in Lakeview. Set to the lyrical refrains of Duke Ellington’s big band orchestra, the piece evoked the seamy street life after dark in the 1940s, replete with pimps, prostitutes, cool cats, and dames. The Joel Hall dancers jitterbugged “with vamping glamour” as Hall himself strutted across stage in a zoot suit. Described as a “wow of a work” by a contemporary critic, Nightwalker went on to become a mainstay in the company’s repertoire. Most importantly, the original cast consisted of Black and Latino dancers, aligning with Hall’s philosophy of promoting diversity and multiculturalism as a more accurate reflection of society and grounded in his activism on behalf of civil rights, particularly on behalf of the Black and LGBTQ communities.
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