Strange Fruit draws its title from the 1937 poem and song of the same name by Abel Meeropol and made famous by the great jazz singer Billie Holiday. The lyrics are an extended metaphor linking a tree’s fruit with lynching victims. The impetus for this world premiere work is the employment of lynching as a tool of racial terrorism during the Jim Crow Era. For this dance/theater work, the facts of lynching act as a springboard into a highly personal interior space and state of mind. Strange Fruit tracks choreographer Donald Byrd’s feelings as a response to lynching and plays out as a series of dance/theater vignettes.
The piece is abstract but informed by the reality of these brutal acts of terrorism.