Co-Commissioned by:

  • Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center (University of Maryland)
  • Krannert Center for the Performing Arts (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)
  • Peak Performances (Montclair State University)

…startling and stunning… a revelation of the soul…a transcendent coming-of-age tale of universality, aspiration and identity. #Plz go.


Choreographed, written, and directed by David Roussève, Stardust explores the evolving nature of intimacy in our technology-driven, furiously-paced world.  Redefining the coming of age story for the electronic age, the evening-length piece follows an African American gay urban teenager who- never seen onstage- is present only by the emotion laden tweets and text messages he sends. While not autobiographical, like some of Rousseve’s work, it is intensely personal.

The protagonist’s journey is conveyed by the juxtaposition of disparate elements: His unanswered texts and tweets, written by Roussève, are projected onto multiple surfaces in video by Roussève’s long time collaborator Cari Ann Shim Sham. The sound score juxtaposes the intimate romanticism of Nat King Cole standards with the rough-edged, hip-hop inflected original music of d. Sabela Grimes.  Lush, jazz-inflected dancing choreographed by Roussève to the lyricism of Cole is leavened by frenetic, angular representations of the protagonist’s anxious states of mind.  Designer Christopher Kuhl’s lighting will support both the emotional textures and surreal quality of the work.  Dramaturg Lucy Burns will serve as an outside eye to help keep these contrasting elements in dynamic balance.
Stardust is the first REALITY work in which Roussève will not perform lead. He writes, “Removing myself has been exhilarating: I can focus on developing a more dynamic movement language--long a goal--unlimited by my own body.  While it is paramount that my work retain its emotional resonance, my giving the protagonist ‘voice’ only through short written text allows for a more fluid choreographic structure uninterrupted by the character monologues I usually deliver.  I am thrilled by this leap forward in my work.”

For its in-progress performances at REDCAT the LA Times named “Stardust” “One of the Best Dance Performances of 2013.”  

Stardust is made possible by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project, with lead funding from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Met Life Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Additional funding provided by Investing in Artists grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation, the University of CA Institute for Research in the Arts, and UCLA Faculty Research Grants Program.

photos: Yi-Chun Wu


Cari Ann Shim Sham (Video) is a filmmaker, choreographer, writer and educator who makes short and feature length cinema that pushes the boundaries of moving images.  She works in the mediums of Experimental Short Film, Installation, Documentary film and Dance for Camera.  Amongst Cari Ann's awards are Best Director from the First Glance Film Festival and Best Mini Doc from the St. Louis International Film Festival, as well as Best Short Documentary from the Oxford Film Festival and a Special Mention Award from Dance Camera West for her newest film SAND which received Official Selection by the Austin Film Festival in 2010 and the Tallahassee Film Festival in 2011. She's also earned a Silver Create award for Production/Post Production for Are you for real?, the Jumping Frames 2008 Dance Video Award for Delicious Tree, two Telly Awards for My Big Break, and a Jury Shorts Award from Cinedans for Are you for real?. In addition, she was a finalist at Jumping Frames for Are you for real? and for SAND.  Cari Ann Shim Sham* served as the chair of the Dance Department at The Culver City Academy of Visual & Performing Arts from 2000-2007 and as Artistic Director of Bitch Co.from 1995-2001; an all female dance theater company, performing feminist based protest art extensively throughout the underground Los Angeles Art Gallery and Rave scene. She has a BA and MFA in Choreography from the UCLA World Arts and Cultures Department.

d. Sabela grimes (Sound) aka Ovasoul7 is a multi-hyphenate artist and educator whose work transforms speech and sound into a visual performance with movement that is electric on transmission.  In 1997, Sabela joined Rennie Harris Puremovement (RHPM). During his tenure with RHPM, Sabela served as principal dancer and the company’s Education/Outreach Coordinator.  He co-wrote the script and composed two songs for RHPM's award winning production Rome and Jewels.  Since working with RHPM, Sabela has conceived, written, scored, choreographed and presented several dance theater works, Philly XPWorld War WhatEver, and 40 Acres & A Microchip: Salvation or Servitude from his EXPERIMENT EARTH sound-movement triptych, and BULLETPROOF DELI an evening length solo work.  Proactively seeking to expand beyond contemporary notions of Hip Hop culture and aesthetics, Sabela’s work journeys through the current future of the present past and the corrugated spaces of many incarnations.  Each creative offering is a familiar ritual, a conscious spectacle, the stillest rumination.  In addition to his own work, Sabela has functioned as composer/sound designer for Victoria Marks’ Medium Big Inefficient Considerably Imbalanced Dance and is currently composing for Baker & Tarpaga Dance Project’s, Whiteness Revisited.

Christopher Kuhl (Lighting) is a lighting, scenic, installation and conceptual designer for new performance, theatre, dance and opera. Recent work includes ABACUS. Early Morning Opera(Sundance Film Festival, EMPAC Troy NY); John Cage Song Books (SF Symphony, Carnegie Hall), Under Polaris. Cloud Eye Control(REDCAT, EXIT Festival Paris, Fusebox Festival Austin); Watch her not know it now. Meg Wolfe (REDCAT); Tov. Rosanna Gamson. Horton Award. (REDCAT); There is an Elephant in this Dance. Lionel Popkin (REDCAT); Monster. Pappas and Dancers(UCLA); The Elephant Room. Rainpan 43 (Philly Live Arts, Arena Stage, St. Anns Warehouse), Motherhood Out Loud (Primary Stages, The Geffen); How to Completely Disappear. Ovation Award Nomination (Boston Court Theatre); The Author, Eclipsed (Center Theatre Group); Model Behavior, Monster of Happiness. Ovation Award Nomination (Theatre Movement Bazaar); Everyone Who Looks Like You, Uncanny Valley, Undine, My Mind Is Like A Open Meadow, (Hand2Mouth Theatre), Into The Dark Unknown (Holcombe Waller). Lighting Director for Ralph Lemon How Can You Stay in the House All Day and Not Go Anywhere; Victoria Marks Not about Iraq, David Rousseve Saudade. Chris has also had the pleasure of working and making art at REDCAT, On the Boards, The Walker, UCLA Live, BAM, Jacob's Pillow, The Krannert Center, YBCA, Portland Center Stage, Hartford Stage, Dallas Theatre Center, Los Angeles Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Beijing Music Festival, Queer Zagreb, MAC France, Reed Collage, Columbia College and Duke University. Chris is originally from New Mexico and a graduate of Calarts.

Leah Piehl (Costumes) has been extremely active in the Los Angeles and New York film, theater and dance communities. This is her second collaboration with David Roussève. Some of her recent credits include The Borrowers(South Coast Repertory), The Dinosaur Within (The Theatre at Boston Court), FULL.STILL HUNGRY (Ford Amphitheatre, Contra Tiempo), Moscow, Cherry Town (Long Beach Opera), The Eccentricities of a Nightingale (A Noise Within), Satyr Atlas (The Getty Villa), Futura (The Theatre at Boston Court, Pasadena), The Winter's Tale (Theater 150, Ojai), Boom(Furious Theater, Los Angeles), Paradise Lost (Intiman Theater, Seattle), Men of Tortuga (Furious Theater, Los Angeles), BobRauschenbergAmerica (The Theater Inside the Ford, Los Angeles), Tree (The Theater Inside the Ford, Los Angeles), Saudade (UCLA Live, David Roussève), The Pain and the Itch (The Theatre at Boston Court, Pasadena), Monster (Judson Memorial Church, NY), The Wasps (The Lost Theater, Los Angeles), Love Water (Open Fist/EST LA, Los Angeles), Someone in Florida Loves Me (The Paradise Factory Theater, New York), Tartuffe (The Theatre at Boston Court, Pasadena), Miss Julie(Sledgehammer Theater, San Diego), Robots vs. Fake Robots (The Powerhouse Theater, Santa Monica), The Boomerang Kid (The Powerhouse Theater, Santa Monica), Big Death and Little Death (The Road Theater, North Hollywood), The Best Man, (East West Players, David Henry Hwang Theatre, LA), No Mercy (24th Street Theatre, LA), Michele Vinaver’s 911(REDCAT, Frictions Festival Dijon, Théatre National de la Colline in Paris), Erik Ehn’s Medusachrist (REDCAT) and Bull Spears (La Tea Theater, NYC; Sledgehammer Theater, San Diego). Leah maintains ongoing collaborations with several choreographers including Contra Tiempo, Kate Hutter, Mira Kingsley, Kristen Smiarowski, Rebecca Pappas, and Colin Connor.  Leah currently teaches at the University of Southern California. She has her BA in Political Economy of Industrial Societies from the University of California at Berkeley (Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa). She also studied at the University of Padova, Italy. Leah received her MFA in Theater from CalArts in 2006.

Lucy Mae San Pablo Burns (Dramaturg) is at work on plays-in-progress including Cindy Garcia's How to Make it to the Dance Floor: A Salsa Guide for Women (Based on Actual Experiences) and R. Zamora Linmark's But, Beautiful. She was a dramaturg for TeAda Productions' Native Immigrant, a community-based theatrical creation conceived and written by Leilani Chan. She is a consultant for various arts advocacy projects including the Pilipino American Performing Arts Initiative, funded by the Ford Foundation. She works closely with Alleluia Panis and KulArts, Inc, as a member to the San Francisco-based organization's artistic advisory team. Burns began her professional involvement in theater through her work with Roberta Uno, theater director/foundation officer and editor of Unbroken Thread and Contemporary Plays by Women of Color (with Kathy Perkins). She held the positions of Education and Access Coordinator and Literary Manager at New WORLD Theater (1994-1999), in Amherst, Massachusetts. While at NWT, she also assisted in establishing the Uno Archive of Plays by Asian American Women, housed at the WEB DuBois Library at UMass Amherst. Burns earned her doctoral degree in English with an American Studies Concentration at UMass. She co-edited The Color of Theater with Uno, published in 2003.  In 2005, Burns joined the Asian American Studies Department at UCLA. Her book, Puro Arte: Filipinos on the United Stages of Empire is forthcoming with NYU Press (2012).

The Company

Charisse Skye Aguirre is a young choreographer and movement artist that recently graduated from the University of California Los Angeles where she majored in the World Arts and Cultures department with emphasis on dance.  She is also a CrossFit Level One Certified Trainer with CrossFit Gymnastics Certification at her family’s CrossFit gym, CrossFit Proper.  Charisse is also a strength and conditioning coach/trainer at UCLA’s John Wooden Center, where she enjoys teaching a variety of fitness courses ranging from CrossFit and Barbell Technique to Dance Conditioning.

Emily Beattie is a performer and choreographer working in LA and Boston. After receiving a BFA from the Boston Conservatory, Emily toured nationally with Boston-based companies, Prometheus Dance and Lorraine Chapman, The Company. Emily has also performed in the works of Donald Byrd, Sara Rudner, Jennifer Monson, Simone Forti and Lionel Popkin. Her own work for the stage, screen and site have been produced by the Dance Complex, Green Street Studios, Somerville Arts Council, Glouchester New Arts Festival, Oberon Theater and World Arts Music/Crash Arts. Her works have been shown in New York, Quito, Ecuador, and Kyoto, Japan. An interest in integrating technology into relevant dance performance led her to pursue a MFA degree at the World Arts and Cultures/Dance department at UCLA. In Los Angeles, Emily’s main collaborators include multimedia artist Eric Gunther and choreographer Alison D’Amato.

Leanne Iacovetta moved from Columbus, Ohio to Los Angeles four years ago to attend UCLA. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in June 2012, with a Bachelor of Arts in World Arts and Cultures (Dance) and Communication Studies. Leanne took her first ballet class at the age of four and is now trained in ballet, jazz, modern, tap, lyrical, musical theater, hip hop, house, and West African. At UCLA, she co-produced the annual undergraduate showcase, WACsmash, and was president of the WAC Undergraduate Society. She has danced for faculty members Lionel Popkin, Vic Marks, and David Rousseve, and performed with hip hop groups such as NSU Modern and Mischief Makers. Leanne also choreographed original pieces for WACsmash 2011 and 2012, the WAC Senior Honors Project Showcase entitled Point(s) of Contact, and the UCLA Summer Dance/Theater Intensive. Leanne currently teaches dance around Los Angeles for UCLA Recreation, MNR Dance Factory, JOA Wellness Center, and the Flourish Foundation, and is thrilled to be an apprentice in David Rousseve’s company and a part of the Stardust cast!

Jasmine Jawato is a native of Los Angeles and is a recent graduate from the department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA. During her undergraduate studies, Jasmine has had the opportunity to work with Maria Gillespie/Oni Dance, David Roussève, and Michel Kouakou. She has performed in Los Angeles, at Bates Dance Festival in Maine, in Côte d’Ivoire, Bielefeld, Germany, and at the Joyce Soho in New York.

Nehara Kalev is a choreographer and performing artist dedicated to exploring states of being through interdisciplinary performance. Combining experimental dance-theatre, improvisation, and aerial imagery, she has created and performed works with major support from private foundations, artistic residencies, and public institutions, including the Bogliasco Fellowship and 33 Officina Creativa in Italy, Djerassi Artist Residency, and The Center For Cultural Innovation. She has been a guest artist at many universities including CalArts, UCLA, Cal State LA, and The University of Winchester, U.K. Nehara is a member of the legendary Rachel Rosenthal Company, and joined David Rousseve/REALITY in 2005. She has performed featured roles with Diavolo Dance Theater throughout the US, was a featured aerialist with Airealistic, and worked with the LA Opera. As co-founder and co-director of Catch Me Bird, her company works have been performed in major California and New York venues, supported by The Durfee Foundation, The Flourish Foundation, Cirque Du Soleil, The LA County Arts Commission, and The LA Dept of Cultural Affairs. Supported by The Gerbode, The Hewlett, and The Scripps Foundations, Nehara collaborated to create a multisite-specific work for the SF de Young Museum last year. She is a Master of Fine Arts in choreography thanks to UCLA, and looks forward to her upcoming residency at Montalvo Arts Center.

Michel Kouakou, a native of the Ivory Coast, is an active performer of both traditional and contemporary dance.  He has performed throughout Europe, Africa and the United States.  As a dancer, he has worked with choreographers such as Germaine Acogny (Senegal), Seydou Boro (Burkina Fasso), Bud Blumenthal (Belgium), Kota Yamazaki(New york/Japan), Jutta Czurda(Germany), Giorgio  Rossi (Italy), Reggie Wilson (USA), and Victoria Marks (USA).  In 2003, he formed his own company, ‘Daara Dance’, which has performed in the US, Holland, France, Chad, Ivory Coast, Tunisia, Italy, Israel, and the Czech Republic.  Michel has taught throughout Europe, US, and Japan. In 2003 served as a fulltime faculty member at the Duncan Centre Conservatory in Prague.  His solo S.A.C.K. was featured in both the New York (2010) and Los Angeles (2011) A.W.A.R.D.S SHOW.  Michel is a recipient of the 2007 NYFA Artist Fellowship and is a recent winner of the Vilcelk prize for creative promise.

Kevin Le is a fourth year in the World Arts & Cultures | Dance Department at the University of California Los Angeles. He has been trained in hip-hop, jazz, modern, and ballet under the direction of Jessie Hartley at the School of Dance and Music. He has worked with dancers/choreographers Jessie Hartley, Peter Chu, Sonya Tayeh, David Roussève, and Kevin Williamson and is a member of Sonya Tayeh’s company, Tayeh Dance. Kevin was titled first runner up in the non-classical dance division of the Music Center Spotlight Awards in 2009.

Nguyễn Nguyên was born in Vietnam and came to the United States at the age of 7. He was a Regents Scholar at UCLA and graduated with a B.S. in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. He received his teaching certification as a District Intern and taught biological and chemical science for Los Angeles Unified School District. Nguyên was a part-time dance intructor at Santa Monica College and Cal State LA. He has worked with various artists in Los Angeles including David Roussève, Cheng-Chieh Yu, Heidi Duckler, Holly Johnston and Maria Gillespie. His own work has been presented at Highways Performance Space, Anatomy Riot, Diavolo Space, Citrus College Dance Festival, “Dancers For Life” at Landis Performing Arts Center, Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, American College Dance Festival and the Guangdong International Dance Festival in China. Nguyên is a founding member of Los Angeles Movement Arts. He is a MFA candidate for Dance and Choreography at UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance.

Taisha Paggett is a Los Angeles based choreographer, dancer, teacher, and co-founder of the dance journal project, itch. Her work is inspired by various discourses on the body as an expressive tool and is interested in bridging the sensibility and discourses of both the visual and performing arts.  Her work and collaborations have been presented in several California venues including Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica, Center Stage Theater in Santa Barbara, and at the San Francisco Art Institute. Taisha has worked extensively with visual artist Ashley Hunt in collaborative video and installation work including Undeliverable Address: 54 questions that will not be answered by the White House and Engagement. She has also done freelance writing for Dance Magazine and is the co-editor of the L.A. dance journal project, itch. As a dancer, Taisha has most recently worked with David Roussève, Cheng-Chieh Yu, Victoria Marks, Rosanna Gamson, Yvonne Rainer and Cid Pearlman.             Taisha has an MFA in Dance from UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance.  She is currently a visiting lecturer in dance at Columbia College in Chicago.

Kevin Williamson is a dancer, choreographer, and educator. Since graduating from UCLA he has performed for the LA Opera, David Gordon, Julie Taymor, Angelin Preljocaj, Robert Moses, Stephan Koplowitz, Sebastian Prantl, Ryan Heffington, and David Bridel throughout the US, UK, and Europe.  Kevin is a member of Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company and Maria Gillespie's Oni Dance. He is a Lestor Horton Award recipient, Bates Education Fellow, and acts as artistic director of his company KDUB DANCE.  Kevin has created works for REDCAT, CounterPULSE, Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, Loyola Marymount University, American Musical & Dramatic Academy, Los Angeles Movement Arts, The Fringe Festival Scotland, Highways Performance Space, House of Blues, Freud Theatre at UCLA, and Miami's Winter Music Conference.  Kevin is an adjunct instructor at American Musical & Dramatic Academy and a teacher at Renaissance High School for the Arts and in UCLA’s Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance.

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