Fillmore Silver Spring
Big old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll is the name of the game for this group. They perform songs off Great Western Valkyrie, their latest album. $20.
Fans of St. Paul & the Broken Bones who didn’t get tickets to their 9:30 Club show later this month would do well to check out Stone, another neo-soul act with a slightly more hippie-ish vibe. $25.
Fillmore Silver Spring
The Australian pop sensation brings her compulsively danceable tunes to the stage. $16.
Pitchfork summed up this flamboyant Detroit band’s most famous singles, “Danger! High Voltage” and “Gay Bar” as “transcendently dumb.” The flamboyant rockers are about to release their tenth album. $15.
The R&B singer’s instantly recognizable rasp has given her staying power—the Grammy winner releases her eighth album this month. $49.50.
U Street Music Hall
The New Orleans duo makes bouncy indie pop reminiscent of 1950s groups. Sultry-voiced Arum Rae opens with modern soul. $15.
The Oscar-winning Czech singer/songwriter, known for her collaboration—and former romance—with Glen Hansard (her Once costar), just released Muna, her second solo album. $18 to $25.
Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons
Hear the falsetto that made its owner and his “Jersey boys” the subjects of a Tony-winning musical and a Clint Eastwood-directed biopic. $48 to $165.
Alice Russell and Yuna
Russell, a blonde, British soul singer shares the bill with Malaysian pop star Yuna and "tropical pop" artist Hollie Cook, the daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook. $25 to $30.
Julian Casablancas & the Voidz
Though the Strokes frontman gets more than his share of hype, his first solo effort, Phrazes for the Young, earned generally positive reviews. Casablancas released his first album with his new side project, the Voidz—which includes two members of the band that backs his solo shows—in September. $35.
Bombay Bicycle Club
The English rockers continue to push the boundaries of their sound with So Long, See You Tomorrow, their most recent album. $30 (currently sold out).
“I Don’t Want to Wait” endures as one of the most recognizable anthems of the ’90s; fans of Cole’s melancholic pop can look forward to newer material as well as her classics. $25 to $27.
Rock & Roll Hotel
This female rapper has a dual degree from Stanford to draw on for her witty wordplay skewering American excess. $12.
Cold War Kids
The Long Beach rockers moved from indie to more radio-friendly fare such as “Miracle Mile” on last year’s Dear Miss Lonelyhearts. Hear what’s in store for their fifth album, out this month. $28.
The Motown star comes to town for a concert including hits that have earned her seven Grammys. $65.50 to $99.50.
Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn
The bluegrass-royalty husband and wife are on tour playing from their new self-titled album. $40 to $60.
Martha Clarke’s Chéri
This tale of romance between a younger man and an older woman—created by MacArthur “genius grant” recipient Martha Clarke and based on a story by Collette—stars dancers Alessandra Ferri and Herman Cornejo and actress Amy Irving. $42.
George Mason University’s Center for the Arts
The contemporary San Francisco company performs “Rasa,” set to music by percussionist Zakir Hussain, as well as other dances. $26 to $44.
Moroccan choreographer Hind Benali partners with hip-hop dancer Soufiane Karim and composer Mohcine Imraharn for live music and dance offering a window onto life as an Arab woman in North Africa. $25 to $30.
Velocity Dance Festival
Sidney Harman Hall
Since debuting in 2009, the festival has narrowed its focus from international to mostly local artists—but it’s still an affordable opportunity to see a range of styles and performers. $18.
Dance Theatre of Harlem
Sidney Harman Hall
Led by Virginia Johnson, who grew up in DC, the troupe returns for another run after last year’s sold-out engagement; co-presented by Washington Performing Arts and CityDance. $37 to $77.
An Evening of Indian Dance
The Indian Dance Educators Association puts on this showcase of traditional dance and music, featuring local performers as well as choreographers from India. $20 to $25.
Beijing Dance Theater: “Wild Grass”
Techno music and dancers as robots aren’t exactly ballet standards, but artistic director Wang Yuanyuan incorporates both. The three works on the bill are inspired by poems of the Chinese modernist writer Lu Xun. $42.
Petite Mort: Masterworks by Kylián/van Manen/Wheeldon
Sidney Harman Hall
The Washington Ballet performs three pieces by Jirí Kylián, Hans van Manen, and Christopher Wheeldon, set to live music. $37 to $132.
Carmen De Lavallade: “As I Remember It”
The dancer and actress presents a retrospective of her seven-decade career via dance, film clips, projections of personal writings, and other artifacts. $49.
George Mason University’s Center for the Arts
October 31-November 1
The National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China perform logic-defying feats of tumbling, juggling, and more. $29 to $48.
Poulenc’s Organ Concerto
British conductor Matthew Halls returns to lead the NSO in Poulenc’s popular work. $10 to $85.
Belgrade Philharmonic Orchestra
This orchestra, in existence since the ’20s, tours the US for the first time, playing pieces by Serbia’s Stevan Hristić along with other European composers. $25 to $55.
Ray Chen and Julio Elizalde
Washington Performing Arts presents a concert of Mozart, Beethoven, and more by 25-year-old violin virtuoso Chen (below) and American pianist Elizalde. $25.
Combining traditional Chinese instruments and modern orchestration, this group—whose name means “the beauty of divine beings dancing”—explores its home country’s rich history. $49 to $89.
National Philharmonic: Dvorák’s New World Symphony
The philharmonic kicks off its season with a symphony written by the Czech composer during his stay in America. The evening also includes a performance by South Korean violinist Chee-Yun. $28 to $84.
Choir of Westminster
Washington National Cathedral
Hear the British choir and get a look at the pomp and grandeur that help make Westminster Abbey such a storied place. $25 to $85.
Music From the Films of Tim Burton
The Danny Elfman music that gives Burton-directed works (Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands, Frankenweenie) much of their dark punch comes to life here, accompanied by visuals from the movies, sketches, and storyboards. $20 to $88.
Baltimore Symphony Orchestra: “Ein Heldenleben” (A Hero’s Life)
The BSO takes on Richard Strauss’s autobiographical tone poem. The bill also includes Christopher Rouse’s “Rapture” and Alexander Scriabin’s “Poem of Ecstasy.” $32 to $95.
This month, a local institution gets in on the grand Washington tradition of returning from summer vacation with some not-so-subtle tweaks. Dance Place, which for 36 years has been bringing dance performances and education to the area, has undergone its first full renovation and will introduce the new look at a free community day on September 6.
Carla Perlo and Steve Bloom founded Dance Place in 1978, and in 1986, due to quadrupling rents, they moved from Adams Morgan to a former welding warehouse in Brookland. “We set it up with a theater space and wooden risers—nothing mounted, nothing more comfortable than a folding chair,” says communications director Carolyn Kamrath. “It’s been well loved, but it needed a facelift.”
It got that thanks to four years of fundraising, corporate and private donations, and support from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
During the “Be in Brookland” community day, guests can tour the improved facility, which includes fresh hardwiring and a semi-enclosed tech booth in the theater, a larger dressing room with space for 40 dancers, and a new second-story studio—plus comfortable, high-quality seats. The open house also features free classes for children and adults, free performances, and a $15 nighttime dance party led by the Cuban company DC Casineros.
Dance Place’s upcoming season offers a diverse lineup, including four international companies. November brings Brazil’s Companhia Urbana de Dança, for instance, and March welcomes two Cuban artists. Kamrath says the larger space will also allow for an extended class schedule and more residency opportunities for visiting artists.
She’s perhaps most excited by the impact Dance Place can now have at home: “We’ve always been a hub for our community and the youth who live in DC’s Ward 5,” and the expanded facilities will allow Dance Place to offer more classes for children. “All the kids are thrilled to be in the new building—and we’re definitely filling it.”
More information at danceplace.org.
The Kennedy Center announced its 2014-15 season this morning. Here are the highlights:
The touring production of Evita stops by in October 2014.
The KenCen premieres its new production of Little Dancer, with direction and choreography by Susan Stroman, also in October.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat is your holiday musical, arriving December 16.
Signature Theatre’s Eric Schaeffer directs a new revival of Lerner and Loewe’s Gigi before it heads to New York, opening January 17.
Tony-winning musical Once arrives for a six-week engagement in July 2015.
Smash hit Book of Mormon (which, you may remember, crashed the Kennedy Center’s website last summer when tickets went on sale), is returning for two months in the summer of 2015.
The KenCen presents Martha Clarke’s Cheri in October.
Beijing Dance Theater stops by in October.
Ballet West provides this year’s Nutcracker from December 1 through 14.
The Mariinsky Ballet performs a mixed-repertory program in January.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns in February.
American Ballet Theatre returns in March with one unnamed full-length work and a mixed-repertory program.
The New York City Ballet brings two mixed programs to the KenCen in April.
The Scottish Ballet performs A Streetcar Named Desire in May.
England’s the Royal Ballet performs Don Quixote and a mixed program in June.
Joshua Bell performs in the Season Opening Ball Concert September 21.
The Washington National Opera presents Florencia in the Amazon in September.
David Zinman conducts pianist Angela Hewitt in October.
John Mauceri conducts Danny Elfman’s Music from the Films of Tim Burton in October.
Christoph Eschenbach conducts Midori October 30 through November 1.
Steven Reineke conducts an evening with Sutton Foster in November.
The WNO stages Puccini’s La Bohème in November.
The WNO Family Opera in December is Rachel Portman’s adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince.
Pianist Tzimon Barto returns in January.
Organist Cameron Carpenter performs February 4.
Emanuel Ax also stops by in February.
The WNO presents Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites in February and March.
Jason Moran performs In My Mind: Monk at Town Hall, 1959 in March.
The WNO revives Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman in March.
Dianne Reeves returns in April.
Violinist Leonidas Kavakos performs in May.
The Kennedy Center also announced a festival dedicated to performing arts from Spain and Portugal. Iberian Suite: Arts Remix Across Continents will take place from March 2 through 24, and will feature theater, music, dance, and more.
Ballet, says In Series founder and artistic director Carla Hübner, “doesn’t have to be this great theatrical thing. It can be something that happens right in your lap.” That sense of experiencing dance up close is one that the In Series offers in its collaborations with the Washington Ballet’s Studio Company, featuring accomplished dancers, choreographers, and musicians working together on performances in a more intimate setting.
January 17 through 19 at DC’s GALA Hispanic Theatre, the In Series and the Washington Ballet present La Vie en Rose, a show celebrating French culture from Berlioz to Edith Piaf, with choreography by Septime Webre and David Palmer. “We have the singers interacting with the dancers, with constant weaving between the two,” Hübner says. “By creating a theatrical environment for both, the product becomes more than the sum of its parts.”
Webre is revisiting a tribute to Piaf and Jacques Brel he choreographed years ago called “Oui/Non,” in which soprano and Catholic University professor Fleta Hylton voices Piaf. La Vie en Rose also features music by Henri Duparc, a little-known French composer who quit writing music at age 37 and destroyed many of his works. “They’re very beautiful, very romantic, very French,” says Hübner, who also plays piano in this production.
For the Studio Company dancers, who are unpaid and typically appear only in the chorus, the show offers the chance to display their talents in a performance that’s all about them. “The singers have found it so inspiring to look at their repertory in a different way and to watch the young dancers’ dedication and virtuosity,” Hübner says. “For us all to be onstage together is really rewarding.”
Tickets ($40) at inseries.org.
This article appears in the January 2014 issue of Washingtonian.
One of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s hallmarks is an intense curiosity. Widely considered the greatest dancer of his generation, he trained in ballet in the former Soviet Union before defecting to Canada in 1974. Since then, he’s been artistic director of American Ballet Theatre; performed in theater, TV, and film; and founded the Baryshnikov Arts Center, a multipurpose organization in New York City that showcases performing artists from all disciplines.
December 5 through 22, Baryshnikov comes to Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Lansburgh Theatre with Man in a Case, an experimental work adapted by Annie-B Parson and Paul Lazar from Anton Chekhov’s writing. The show incorporates theater, movement, music, video, and other elements to tell two of Chekhov’s short stories—the first about a teacher crippled by conventionality in turn-of-the-century Russia, the second about a man who falls in love with a married woman.
“They’re very quirky and very different from Chekhov’s plays,” Baryshnikov says. “With this conservative person who’s against any kind of progressive thinking, there are parallels to what’s happening now in this country. Because that story was a bit short and about a tragic and unresolved love affair, they suggested I bring in the other story about love.”
Of all his acting roles—including on the final season of Sex and the City—avant-garde theater seems to interest him most. When he first arrived in New York with only rudimentary English, he found he appreciated experimental productions more than Shakespeare or Eugene O’Neill: “I could have gone to see Hamlet or Romeo and Juliet, but it didn’t make much sense to me. Avant-garde theater was so arresting that I stayed, even though half or three-quarters of what was said passed me by.”
Baryshnikov, 65, continues to dance, which he says is easier now than it was five years ago because he’s “in better shape and a little lighter and a bit smarter about it.” He also spends much of his time working on behalf of his arts center. “In Europe,” he says, “government spends so much on art and art education, and there’s incredible theater in Poland, Bulgaria, Russia, and Scandinavia. Here we are much more conservative. The people who wrote the Constitution never thought about art. How to protect your freedom is one thing, but how to educate your children is another.”
He has no plan to stop performing anytime soon: “Where I am right now—it is scary at times, but that’s the way I like it, I guess. I scare myself, and then I try and overcome it.”
Tickets ($45 to $105) are available at shakespearetheatre.org.
This article appears in the December 2013 issue of Washingtonian.
Maurice Hines Is Tappin’ Thru Life, at Arena Stage November 15 through December 29, stars the dancer/choreographer of the title along with Washington’s Manzari Brothers—John, 21, and Leo, 18—who shared the stage with Hines in Arena’s 2010 production of Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies. Hines—whose late brother, Gregory, was a dancer and actor of equal renown—talks about the new show:
“I was reading an article about tap, and it didn’t even mention my brother. I thought, how soon they forget—because Gregory was tap to me, and I couldn’t let him be ignored. I decided I’d do a show to celebrate him; then it evolved into a show about my family.
“I first saw the Manzari brothers when I was getting ready to do Sophisticated Ladies. I was teaching at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and we were doing this leap and I saw all this hair pop up at the back. Then I saw a boy clutching his ankle, and that was Leo. I said, ‘Are you okay?’ and this voice from behind him says, ‘My brother will be all right,’ and that was John. They had some good dances, so I asked if they could tap. John said, ‘Yeah, we can tap,’ with all this attitude. I said, ‘Okay, you come to the Lincoln Theatre and I’ll let you know if you can tap.’ Of course, they were spectacular.
“In the show, I tell about the first time Gregory and I worked in Vegas in 1955 and how our mother hadn’t told us about segregation. We flew over the Strip and thought we were heading there, but my mother said, ‘The hotel you’re going to is in the other direction.’ The hotel was wonderful, but we wanted to go to the Strip and couldn’t understand why we weren’t allowed. I tell about meeting Tallulah Bankhead and Pearl Bailey—a great African-American singer—and how Tallulah wanted Pearl to go to the pool at the Sands with her, but they said she wasn’t allowed in the water. Tallulah said, ‘Then I’m not doing the show tonight.’ So everyone got out and they let Pearl get in the water, and then they drained it.
“I used to sing ‘Too Marvelous for Words’ to the audience, but now I sing it to my mother. I want the audience to know that it was this woman who came from nothing—who wasn’t in show business—who had this vision of our talent taking us all over the world. She always said the audience is the main thing. Without them, you may as well be in a rehearsal studio, so you owe them.”
Maurice Hines Is Tappin’ Thru Life. November 15 through December 29 at Arena Stage. Tickets ($50 and up) are available online.
This article appears in the November 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.
There are a wealth of contradictions underpinning the National Gallery’s extravagant new show, “Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929: When Art Danced With Music.” The show explores the incomparable legacy of Serge Diaghilev, a pioneer of the avant-garde and a man who shaped the way ballet would evolve throughout the 20th century but who also freely described himself as one “with a complete absence of talent.” This is a show focused on Diaghilev, but there is very little of him in it, given that he didn’t dance or sketch costumes or choreograph ballets or compose music. A sense of him emerges only fleetingly, as a mustache-twirling impresario curating art in a thoroughly fascinating way.
Another contradiction: Despite the nomenclature, the Ballets Russes never performed in Russia. Before 1909, when the troupe was formed, Diaghilev (who was independently wealthy) had worked as an art critic and curator and had produced concerts and operas in St. Petersburg and in Paris, where the first Ballets Russes production was staged. His choreographer was Michel Fokine; his principal dancers included Vasily Nijinsky and Anna Pavlova. For the next 20 years, the company traveled around the world, presenting more than half of its productions in Britain and collaborating with talents as diverse as Igor Stravinsky and Coco Chanel. It is impossible to imagine modern dance being the same without it.
“Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes” is a reimagining of an exhibition that ran at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum in 2010, and while the Washington exhibition has more of a visual art bent to it than the British show, it’s still an unexpectedly broad undertaking for the National Gallery. The institution literally raised its roof in order to display two key items: a backdrop painted by Natalia Goncharova for a 1926 production of The Firebird, and a curtain designed by Picasso in 1924 for The Blue Train, both of which are more than 30 feet tall. Although the two items are imposing, visually, they feel curiously flat taken out of context. Like cubism, the show deconstructs ballet down to its composite parts and presents them as individual masterpieces, when by their very nature they were designed to play as part of an ensemble.
The same goes for the costumes, which seem to make up the majority of items on display. Most are extraordinary, both in their construction and their heritage, but to see them displayed on mannequins is only a small part of the story. The exhibition includes video footage of modern reconstructions of Ballets Russes performances featuring companies such as the Joffrey Ballet and the New York City Ballet, but the two-dimensional projections don’t quite evoke the sense of ferocious energy and sweat that live dance does. The heaviness and intensity of the early Ballets Russes costumes in particular provoke a hundred practical questions about their nature in performance that remain unanswered. As works of art, the costumes pale in comparison to their elegantly rendered designs, including the gorgeous drawings and watercolors by Alexandre Benois and Léon Bakst.
The Kennedy Center this morning announced its lineup for 2013-14—Michael Kaiser’s last season as president—and among big news is that the center breaks away from classical music for a bit to host multi-platinum rapper Nas, the son of jazz musician Olu Dara. Nas is know for the 2002 single “One Mic,” which is the name of the weeklong festival at which he’ll perform. “One Mic: Hip-Hop Culture Worldwide” will celebrate “emceeing, deejaying, B-boying, and graffiti writing,” through exhibitions and performances, Kaiser said this morning. Somali artist K’Naan, who sang the promotional anthem of the 2010 World Cup, “Wavin’ Flag,” will also make an appearance.
Speaking of celebrity appearances: Under the leadership of artistic adviser Jason Moran, more than 70 jazz performances will pop up at the KenCen this year by the likes of NEA Jazz Masters Ramsey Lewis and Cecil Taylor. The legacy of trumpeteer Arturo Sandoval is celebrated with a one-time concert, “50 Years: The Life, Passion, and Music of Arturo Sandoval,” at which actors Bill Cosby and Andy Garcia will also perform.
The debut International Theater Festival, taking place in 2014, will feature the theatrical works of companies from all over the world. Titles include The Green Snake by the National Theater of China, The Petrol Station by Kuwait’s Sulayman Al-Bassam Theatre, Incendios by Mexico’s Tapioca Inn, and a rendition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by England’s Bristol Old Vic and the Handspring Puppet Company of South Africa. The festival will represent ten total countries and will also host complementary readings and forums.
Savion Glover’s résumé includes a Broadway debut at age ten, a Tony nomination at 15 (he won seven years later), four years on Sesame Street, and a PBS special at the White House in which President Clinton introduced him as “the greatest tap dancer of all time.” But in Glover’s current show, the artist, educator, and choreographer pays homage to the men he sees as pioneers. SoLe Sanctuary—January 20 at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts—honors dancers such as Sammy Davis Jr., Jimmy Slyde, and Gregory Hines. “It acknowledges my teachers and mentors,” says Glover, “people who’ve been heavily influential on not only my career but also my love for dance and expression.”
Born and raised in Newark, Glover, 39, started dancing at age seven, but his interest was really sparked when he discovered tap: “It wasn’t until I was able to connect with these men and learn from them that I began to understand dance to be something more.” At ten, he took over the title role in Broadway’s The Tap Dance Kid. Glover’s style emphasizes tap’s African-American roots, focusing on foot movement and rhythm. The New York Times called SoLe Sanctuary “barebones and pure, full of the kind of rhythmic innovation that trips down one path, splinters off in different directions, and then sweeps back home.”
Glover hopes the show inspires audiences to think of tap beyond entertainment: “When we speak about Gregory and Jimmy, they were about much more than just doing a combination—they told stories,” he says. “We’re storytellers, and we allow people to feel music through the dance.”
Savion Glover. January 20 at George Mason University. Tickets ($23 to $46) available online.
This article appears in the January 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.
For Dana Tai Soon Burgess, dance is a way to bring people together.
“All of humanity shares similar stories, whether it’s about love, loss, jealousy, or trying to find a sense of home,” the choreographer, 44, says. Over the past 15 years in his role as a cultural envoy to the State Department, Burgess, with his company, has traveled to countries including Egypt, Peru, and Mongolia, and says the experience has helped enhance his work: “Allowing me and the dancers to see the world has shown us how universal we all are.”
Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company concludes its 20th-anniversary year this month with three performances at George Washington University’s Dorothy Betts Marvin Theatre September 21 through 23. The program, which Burgess calls a “mini retrospective,” includes four of the company’s signature works, including “Becoming American,” which tells the story of a Korean adoptee’s arrival in the US, and “Charlie Chan and the Mystery of Love,” which is an autobiographical piece based on Burgess’s own experiences. “I tell stories through movement—through dance. All of these works are about finding a place to belong,” Burgess says.