Dance Performances - Three Black Kings

About Three Black Kings


Sophisticated, lush and alluring, Ellington’s music became part of a legendary collaboration with Alvin Ailey and left an indelible mark on American dance.

Three Black Kings was the last major work written by Duke Ellington.  As he lay dying in his hospital bed in 1974, he gave his son, Mercer, final instructions on how it was to be completed and orchestrated.  The first movement with its African rhythmic motifs, depicts Balthazar, the Black king of the Nativity; the second is concerned with Solomon, King of Israel; and the third celebrates, with warm “down-home” feeling, Martin Luther King, Jr., Ellington's good friend whose triumphs are celebrated in the inspiring finale.  At its premiere, The New York Times noted “…with its crescendo of gospel rhythms and its expressionist symbols of marches and martyrdom…moves the spectator” and The Daily News hailed the work as “An intensely moving vision…”

Listen to Company member Glenn Allen Sims talk about dancing in Three Black Kings

Leadership support for this production was provided by American Express.

Generous support for this new production was also provided by The Ellen Jewett & Richard L. Kauffman New Works Endowment Fund.

Performance Schedule & Tickets

There are no upcoming performances for this repertory piece.



Duke and Mercer Ellington


Irving Milton Duke


Normand Maxon


Chenault Spence; William Burd

Run Time

15 minutes

Musical Style


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