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The Black Iris Project’s “Brown Baby”

Where black lives become works of art

The Latest Update

Aaron Diehl performance in NYC this weekend!

Posted on March 16, 2016 by Jeremy McQueen

​Our fabulous composer for “Brown Baby”, Aaron Diehl, has a concert this weekend at Jazz at Lincoln Center! Aaron will debut two of the musical selections he’s composed for our new ballet within the concert.

Pianist Aaron Diehl, known fondly as “The Real Diehl” in jazz circles, has been a Jazz at Lincoln Center favorite since he was named “Outstanding Soloist” in the Essentially Ellington competition in 2002. He has since toured the world in the bands of Cécile McLorin Salvant, Wycliffe Gordon, and more. Now a respected leader and prolific sideman, the prestigious winner of the 2011 Cole Porter Fellow of the American Pianists Association makes his Appel Room debut as a leader. In our three venues, Diehl has repeatedly demonstrated his immaculately tasteful playing, authentic understanding of jazz, and propensity for inventive long-form solos. These concerts will feature his contemporary, vibraphonist extraordinaire Warren Wolf, trumpeter Dominick Farinacci, tenor saxophonist Stephen Riley, bassist Paul Sikivie, drummer Lawrence Leathers, and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra baritone saxophonist Joe Temperley. True to Jazz at Lincoln Center’s mantra “all jazz is modern,” this concert is a living representation of jazz’s history and future meeting as one in-the-moment creation.

To purchase tickets, click here.

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The BIP will perform at The Kennedy Center in 2017!

Posted on March 9, 2016 by Jeremy McQueen

Hey New Music USA Friends,

Just wanted to take a moment to share some incredible news with you! The Black Iris Project has recently been invited to perform a work at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC as part of their Ballet Across America series in April 2017! We are soooooo thrilled to be included on the program with so many artists/companies we admire and respect for their continued artistic contributions to the world of dance.
Continue reading below to learn more about the series and our future performances!



Opera House

April 18–23, 2017

Part of the John F. Kennedy Centennial Celebration

With the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra

The Kennedy Center celebrates innovation and diversity in American ballet with the return of its week-long Ballet Across America series, last seen in 2013. Illustrating the most exciting, creative dance happening across America today, this year’s program is curated by major stars of the ballet world: dancer-choreographer Justin Peck and principal dancer Misty Copeland, who will explore ideals central to the Center’s celebration of JFK’s Centennial, presenting works reflecting themes such as innovation, courage, freedom, justice, and service on top of the series-wide exploration of American ballet. With artist centric programming, the hope, excitement, and thrills of dance on today’s stages are seen with featured companies including The Joffrey Ballet with Christopher Wheeldon’s Fool’s Paradise, and making their Kennedy Center debuts: Nashville Ballet with The Ben Folds Project, L.A. Dance Project with Benjamin Millipied’s Hearts and Arrows, Kyle Abraham/Abraham.In.Motion with Abraham’s The Gettin’, which includes live music on stage, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and award-winning choreographer Jeremy McQueen with a brand new work as part of his The Black Iris Project. A gala program with special guest performances will open the week.

Featured in the New York Times!!

Posted on February 27, 2016 by Jeremy McQueen

Hey NewMusic Friends! I’m soooo excited to share that our project was recently featured in the New York Times! Whaaaa!?!? We are soooo grateful for the abundance of support we have recently received from the community, and we’re very much looking forward to sharing our continued development with you!

Hope you’ll take a second to check out the article!



-Jeremy M.

Thank you, New Music USA!!!

Posted on February 8, 2016 by Jeremy McQueen

Thank you to everyone at New Music USA for supporting our project with a grant!!! We are all soooo honored to have your support, and we look forward to bringing the story of model Beatrice Reynods to life on stage. We’ll be starting work on the ballet at the end of this month so stay tuned for more details and updates. Our website is in the works but in the meantime, feel free to join the movement on instagram @blackirisproject. 



Founded in 2016 by choreographer Jeremy McQueen, The Black Iris Project is a ballet collaborative and education vehicle which creates new, relevant classical and contemporary ballet works that celebrate diversity and Black history. Based in New York City, the project hosts a team of predominantly artists of color delivering cross-discipline and wholly original works. Championing individuality, the collaborative harnesses the Black community’s inherent creative spirit to encourage and inspire youth of color to pursue art, movement and music as an expressive outlet and a means for collective healing.  Since its inception, The BIP has been awarded generous support from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Shea Moisture, CUNY Dance Initiative, and has been featured in the New York Times, Elle Magazine, Village Voice, Out Magazine, amongst other publications.

The Black Iris Project will hold its premiere performances on July 27-28, 2016 in New York City. Three ballet works rooted in Black history will be featured, highlighting a cast of predominantly Black dancers from world-renowned ballet companies.

A featured new ballet on the program is entitled BROWN BABY. BROWN BABY, is a collaborative thirty minute work for thirteen dancers created by choreographers Jeremy McQueen and Lauren Cox, and composed by jazz pianist and former musical director of Jazz at Lincoln Center Aaron Diehl. Composed for an eight-piece musical ensemble, BROWN BABY evokes the golden age of American jazz. The story begins in Munich, Germany, post-World War II at a time when jazz music was banned, and continues to post segregated Flint, Michigan during the late 1950s. The title of the piece refers to the term used to name children born to Black soldiers and white European women during and after World War II. BROWN BABY is inspired by the true story of Beatrice Reynolds, the daughter of the controversial interracial relationship, who went on to be one of the country’s first Black mainstream fashion models. The ballet traces her unique journey as a young biracial woman struggling to embrace her identity.

In addition to performance-based work, educational outreach plans include master classes with professional Black ballet dancers; panel discussions about the state of the arts in Black society as well as about the creative process of the newly created works; and demonstrations and lectures.

Project Media

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Features: Jeremy McQueen

Premiere: April 27, 2009
Choreographed by Jeremy McQueen
Performed by Camille Workman
Music: ‘Médidation’ from the opera “Thaïs” (1894)
Composed by Jules Massenet
Performed by Abbey Road Ensemble, Itzhak Perlman, Jean Martinon, Lawrence Foster & Orchestre de Paris

Hold on to it all

I'm sorry, this media seems to be unavailable.

Features: Lauren Cox

A creative video featuring dancers who have come to New York to realize dreams. Honest freestyles. Dynamic choreography. Beautiful Central Park locations…what’s not to love?
Lauren Cox (San Francisco Bay Area)
Isaies Perez (Spain)
Tokumi Watanabe (Japan)
Julio Marcelino (Puerto Rico)
Brian Jones (Virginia)
Maria Del Rosario Avilés (Bolivia)
Raphael Thomas (Jamaica)
Thiago Spósito (Brazil)
“Hold On” by SBTRKT featuring Sampha

Space, Time, Continuum
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Features: Aaron Diehl

Aaron Diehl is an American jazz pianist. Diehl is considered a jazz virtuoso and composer. He is the 2014 Monterey Jazz Festival Commission Artist, becoming one of the youngest artists to receive this honor, and composed Three Streams of Expression, dedicated to pianist and composer John Lewis. He is the 2013 recipient of the Jazz Journalists Association Award for Up-And-Coming Artist, the 2012 Prix du Jazz Classique recipient for his album Live at the Players from the Académie du Jazz, and is the winner of the 2011 Cole Porter Fellowship from

Start and End Dates



New York, New York

4 updates
Last update on March 16, 2016

Project Created By

New York, New York
Jeremy McQueen is an award-winning choreographer, dedicated to story-telling rooted in experience and social engagement. His work aims to create spaces of comfort, solace, and connection through reflection—a sharing of observations of what is going on around him.  Born and raised in San Diego, California, McQueen is a graduate of The Ailey School/Fordham University, B.F.A.…

In Collaboration With



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