Solange Knowles Is Composing Her First Ballet Score

The artist will be the first Black woman to write music for the New York City Ballet

Solange Knowles
Solange Knowles giving a speech in 2020 Photo by Jason Mendez / Getty Images for The Town Hall

Finally, Solange Knowles is dropping new music. It just happens to be an original score for the New York City Ballet.

The ballet company announced on Monday that Knowles, the genre-bending R&B-oriented singer, is composing an original score for a yet untitled work by choreographer Gianna Reisen, which will premiere on September 28 at the ballet company’s 10th annual Fall Fashion Gala. The score will be Knowles’ first musical venture since her critically acclaimed 2019 album, When I Get Home. The musician is the first Black woman, and second woman of color, following Colombian musician Lido Pimienta, to score for the company, per Entertainment Weekly’s Lester Fabian Brathwaite.

Knowles began her musical career at a young age. Her earliest stints included performing as a backup dancer for her older sister Beyoncé’s girl group, Destiny’s Child, and singing the theme for Disney Channel’s “The Proud Family.” At 16, she released her debut album, Solo Star, and followed it up with another studio album and various EPs before arriving at 2016’s A Seat at the Table, which became her first number-one album in the United States. The widely-acclaimed work marked a new era for the musician, one characterized by ethereal soundscapes; vulnerable, often political, songwriting; and unprecedented stardom.

Knowles has never liked to box herself in. In addition to being a musician, her job titles have included music video director (she directed the music video for SZA’s “The Weekend”), choreographer, short film director and library curator

The artist has referenced her love for dance and classical music over the years. When postmodern dance pioneer Trisha Brown died in 2017, Knowles tweeted that seeing Brown’s In Plain Sight “gave me so much confidence in the power of peace through dance.” In 2018, she told the New York Times Style magazine’s Ayana Mathis that her “dream was to go to Juilliard.” Christophe Chassol, a French classically-trained pianist, played a major role as a collaborator on When I Get Home, wrote Rolling Stone’s Elias Leight in 2019. A Seat at the Table, for its part, features many piano-driven songs.

“She captures the essence of Black music,” Chassol told Rolling Stone. “We were talking about that: How can you encapsulate one fragment of the essence of that music? Jazz, funk, classical music is also Black in a way.”

The upcoming performance will be Knowles’ ballet debut, but choreographer Reisen has been around the block. In 2017, at 18 years old, she became the youngest choreographer the New York City Ballet ever commissioned. Her collaboration with Knowles will be her third for the company.

According to the New York Times’ Joshua Barone, the piece will be composed for a chamber ensemble, which will include some of Knowles’ musical collaborators and members of the City Ballet’s orchestra. It will also feature costumes by designer Alejandro Gómez Palomo of the brand Palomo Spain.

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