Press Release

May 11, 2021

"I Dream a Dream That Dreams Back at Me, A Juneteenth Celebration" Commissioned for Restart Stages

Lincoln Center News

I Dream a Dream That Dreams Back at Me

A Juneteenth Celebration

Commissioned for Restart Stages


Conceived & Curated by Carl Hancock Rux

Art Installation & Costumes by Dianne Smith

Lyrics by Lynn Nottage


Features Musical Performances by Nona Hendryx, Helga Davis, Vernon Reid, Marcelle Davies-Lashley, Kimberly Nichole,
Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely


June 19, 2021 at 7:00pm


May 11, 2021 – Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts today announced a new commission, an evening-long performance commemorating Juneteenth, I Dream a Dream That Dreams Back at Me, A Juneteenth Celebration. Conceived and curated by award-winning poet and artist Carl Hancock Rux, the site-specific experience will unfold in four distinct parts across the Lincoln Center campus on June 19, 2021. It is presented as part of Restart Stages, a program of the SNF-Lincoln Center Agora Initiative with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF), which activates outdoor space through artistic and community initiatives that speak to our current moment and reimagines public space for a new era.


Drawing inspiration from the narratives of enslaved people seeking and finding freedom, visitors will begin the evening on Hearst Plaza for Part I Prelude: Doctrine of Three Angels, a musical performance chronicling the journey taken by abolitionist and activist Harriet Tubman. Vocalists Nona Hendryx, Marcelle Davies-Lashley, and Kimberly Nichole perform original music by Vernon Reid and Nona Hendryx, with lyrics by Lynn Nottage. The performers wear original paper dress creations by interdisciplinary artist Dianne Smith while standing in the Paul Milstein Pool—with the shallow reflecting pool representative of the river at low tide through which Tubman traveled as she rescued and brought enslaved people to freedom.


Audience members will then journey to the next part of the exploration, Part II Consecration: One Tall Angel Say with multidisciplinary artist and singer Helga Davis. Davis, donning another creation by Dianne Smith, performs her interpretation of a deconstructed National Anthem, reckoning with the question of whether true freedom has ever fully been achieved.


The evening culminates with a performance in Damrosch Park by Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely, Part III In Service: Another River On The Other Side. Reagon fuses her no-holds-barred approach to rock, blues, and R&B for a musical experience that encapsulates the spectrum of the freedom journey thus far, culminating in a proclamation of emancipation for the 21st century.


As the evening progresses, Reagon and her band will be joined by the performing artists from the first parts of the evening for the final conclusion, Part IV Postlude/Benediction: Freedom Is A Strong Seed.


“When I was asked by Lincoln Center to craft a program for Juneteenth, I gave careful consideration to this annual celebration that began when enslaved peoples were finally informed (two years after Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation) that they were ‘free.’ The importance of an annual celebration that enables us to learn about history and understand our past—where we came from and how we got where we are today—is without question,” said Carl Hancock Rux. “Slavery in the United States is not only a part of American history, but of the world. It is very hard for many of us to understand how and why slavery happened in America. Yet, this history of human bondage and eventual emancipation makes me wonder if in fact any of us can be made free until we are all free of the ideological values of racism and injustice.


Rux continued, “Curated as sight, sound, and sensory perception, this particular dream of ‘freedom’ is carefully constructed from the tattered remnants of abolitionism, and escaped enslaved peoples courageously traversing the shores and deep waters of justice. Perhaps along this journey, all who say they believe in freedom must seek out a collective healing; must not get weary as we continuously embark upon our journey to be free.”


Free tickets to this performance will be made available through the TodayTix Lottery, the Official Ticketing Partner of Restart Stages. The TodayTix Lottery will open for entries two weeks before the performance and close three days prior to the performance at 12:59pm EDT. Attendees who secure tickets will be required to follow safety protocols. For more information visit or download the TodayTix app.*





I Dream a Dream That Dreams Back at Me

A Juneteenth Celebration

Art Installation & Costumes by Dianne Smith
Lyrics (Part I) by Lynn Nottage

Saturday, June 19, 2021 at 7:00pm

Hearst Plaza and Damrosch Park


Part I

Prelude: Doctrine of Three Angels

Hearst Plaza at 7:00pm

Nona Hendryx, vocalist/composer

Vernon Reid, composer /musician

Marcelle Davies-Lashley, vocalist

Kimberly Nichole, vocalist


Part II

Consecration: One Tall Angel Say

Helga Davis, vocalist


Part III

In Service: Another River On The Other Side

Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely

Damrosch Park at 8:00pm

Toshi Reagon, guitar and vocals

Carla Duren, vocals

Josette Newsam, vocals

Alex Nolan, guitar

Ganessa James, bass

Kim Jordan, keys

Allison Miller, drums


Part IV

Postlude/Benediction: Freedom Is A Strong Seed

Damrosch Park

Toshi Reagon and BIG Lovely featuring:

Helga Davis

Marcelle Davies-Lashley

Kimberly Nichole

Nona Hendryx


Additional programming marking Juneteenth will be part of Restart Stages and announced in the coming weeks.


*No purchase is necessary to enter the TodayTix Lottery and reserve free tickets for this performance. The prize value of tickets is $0. The odds of winning tickets depend on the number of eligible entries received. The TodayTix Lottery is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C., age 18 or over. Complete official rules, prize description, and giveaway entry information will be available on the TodayTix and Lincoln Center websites.


Visit for updates.


Artist bios, headshots, and costume sketches are available here.



About Carl Hancock Rux

Carl Hancock Rux is a writer, performer, recording artist, theater director and author of several books including the OBIE award-winning play Talk, the award-winning collection of poetry Pagan Operetta, and the novel Asphalt. His plays and performance works have been produced at the McCarter Theatre, Walker Arts Center, Penumbra Theatre Lincoln Center Theater, The Joseph Papp Public Theater, Playwrights Horizons, 651 Arts, BAM’s Next Wave Festival, PICA Festival, and the Humana Festival, as well as being presented at the Maison des arts de Créteil; Hong Kong Arts Festival; Esplanade Theatre of Singapore; Scuola di Danza Mimma Testa in Trastevere, and Teatro de natal infantil Raffaelly Beligni. Recent commissions include The Baptism (of The Sharecropper's Son & The Boy From Boonville), directed by Carrie Mae Weems, for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. He conceived and wrote the libretto for the forthcoming opera, Makandal (World Premiere, Harlem Stage/The Gate House, fall 2014). Rux is the recipient of numerous awards, including the New York Foundation for the Arts Prize; CINE Golden Eagle Film and Video Award; and the BESSIE award (for directing). Rux has been a visiting professor at Hollins University, Brown University, and University of Iowa, and is the former head of the MFA Writing for Performance Program at the California Institute of the Arts.






Since the pandemic began, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts has driven efforts to bring the power of the arts to New Yorkers outdoors and digitally—from Love From Lincoln Center concerts for individual essential workers to works of art that elevate the voices and lived experiences of people of color in America, such as Carrie Mae Weems’ installation Resist COVID/Take 6!, Davóne Tines’ Vigil, and digital commissions like The Baptism by Carl Hancock Rux. Future SNF-Lincoln Center Agora Initiative international collaborations with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center in Athens (SNFCC) will bring new approaches to cultural engagement in both cities. These are just the beginning of a reorientation towards prioritizing openness, access, and inclusive excellence – elevating talent from every corner of the globe and fostering a sense of radical welcome on the campus.


About Restart Stages

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is spearheading Restart Stages, a sweeping initiative creating 10 outdoor performance and rehearsal spaces—an outdoor performing arts center—as well as other civic venues to help kickstart the performing arts sector and contribute to the revival of New York City.


As one of New York City’s leading arts institutions and an anchor of its cultural and public life, Lincoln Center is embarking on this effort as a symbol of its commitment to the city and to an equitable revitalization that elevates all New Yorkers. Restart Stages is a major, public-facing component of its broader effort to provide resources in this moment not just to Lincoln Center’s resident companies, but to the performing arts community as a whole — helping get artists back to work and supporting institutions from Brooklyn to the Bronx to engage their communities in the elevating power of the arts.


Designed with expert advice from medical and public health professionals, Restart Stages will create a safe, welcoming, accessible, and dynamic environment for arts and community organizations from across New York City, including Lincoln Center resident companies.


Restart Stages begins its months-long activation of Lincoln Center’s outdoor spaces with the opening of “The GREEN” on May 10, a physical reimagining of Josie Robertson Plaza into an open space by celebrated set designer and MacArthur Genius grantee Mimi Lien. A land blessing ceremony—conducted by Chief Dwaine Perry of the Ramapough Lenape and facilitated by the Redhawk Native American Arts Council—will open the evening’s free performances. Singer/songwriter Martha Redbone will follow, using a fusion of gospel, folk, and blues to celebrate her Native and African-American heritage and address pressing issues, both political and personal, head-on. Headlining the evening is groundbreaking, Tony-nominated Broadway performer, actor, and powerful baritone Norm Lewis.


Restart Stages launched on World Health Day, April 7, with a special performance for healthcare workers. It has continued with a New York Blood Center blood drive and several pop-up performances by ensembles from The Juilliard School, Passion Fruit Dance Company/Tatiana Desardouin in collaboration with Works & Process, the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, and puppeteer Basil Twist. The transatlantic exhibition, Faces of the Hero, a partnership with the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) will be on view beginning in July. Also in July, a new commission by Andrea Miller will animate the Lincoln Center campus as part of Restart Stages; a sound, sculpture and performance installation, You Are Here will feature audio portraits of artists and civilians in a continually shifting sound garden that transforms into a live performance experience.


The initiative is being developed in coordination with NY State PopsUp, part of Governor Cuomo’s New York Arts Revival, in a partnership to help extend reach of the initiative far beyond Lincoln Center’s campus.


Restart Stages is made possible through the generous support of the Lincoln Center Board of Directors and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) as part of the SNF-Lincoln Center Agora Initiative, a collaboration that reimagines and reactivates public space for a new era.


Select Restart Stages events will be offered via livestream on Lincoln Center and partner organization digital platforms, increasing access nationally and internationally, well beyond those able to travel to the physical campus. Visit for more information.





About Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts is the steward of the world’s leading performing arts center, an artistic and civic cornerstone for New York City comprised of eleven resident companies on a 16-acre campus. The nonprofit’s strategic priorities include: supporting the arts organizations that call Lincoln Center home to realize their missions and fostering opportunities for collaboration across campus; championing inclusion and increasing the accessibility and reach of Lincoln Center’s work; and reimagining and strengthening the performing arts for the 21st century and beyond, helping ensure their rightful place at the center of civic life.




Restart Stages is made possible by Stavros Niarchos Foundation-Lincoln Center Agora Initiative


Major support provided by First Republic Bank


Additional support provided by BNY Mellon, Cleary Gottlieb, Warburg Pincus, the Scully Peretsman Foundation, Shari and Jeff Aronson, and Lincoln Center’s 20/21 Donors and Members


Endowment support is provided by Oak Foundation, PepsiCo Foundation, The Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Foundation, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund


In-kind support is provided by United Staging and Rigging, Worldstage, Inc., Audio, Inc., Hudson Scenic Studio, and TGIF Event Services


Lincoln Center’s artistic excellence is made possible by the dedication and generosity of our board members


Operation of Lincoln Center’s public plazas is supported in part with public funds provided by the City of New York


Public support for Lincoln Center is provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Gonzalo Casals, Commissioner, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature


NewYork-Presbyterian is the Official Hospital of Lincoln Center







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For more information, please contact:

Isabel Sinistore

[email protected]



Desiree Naranjo

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Jenni Klauder

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