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A platinum-selling rapper and an international film festival are on the lineup. By Diana Elbasha
Rapper Nas comes to the Kennedy Center this season. Photograph courtesy of Flickr user Erik Charlton.

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.

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Posted at 04:05 PM/ET, 03/05/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The famed tap dancer’s “SoLe Sanctuary” show honors Sammy Davis Jr., Gregory Hines, and Jimmy Slyde. By Sophie Gilbert

Photograph by Nina Glover.

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.

Posted at 10:40 AM/ET, 01/18/2013 | Permalink | Comments ()
The local choreographer and George Washington University professor talks about how Washington has shaped his approach to art. By Sophie Gilbert

Dana Tai Soon Burgess. Photograph by Mary Noble Ours.

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.

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Posted at 11:00 AM/ET, 09/17/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
“The Book of Mormon,” “Show Boat,” and a Nordic Cool festival are on the new schedule. By Sophie Gilbert

Broadway behemoth The Book of Mormon arrives at the KenCen next summer. Photograph by Flickr user jenny8lee.

The Kennedy Center announced its 2012–13 season this morning, and if you haven’t seen a Broadway show in a good few years, let’s just say now is your chance to make up for it.The Book of Mormon— Trey ParkerRobert Lopez, and Matt Stone’s Broadway mega-smash—will arrive at the KenCen next summer, while War Horse, Anything Goes, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, and Million Dollar Quartet are also on the schedule. This fall, the Kennedy Center will host a pre-Broadway production of Jekyll and Hyde starring American Idol alum Constantine Maroulis, as well as an original production of Ferenc Molnár’s The Guardsman, directed by Gregory Mosher, next spring.

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Posted at 02:41 PM/ET, 03/06/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Learn flamenco, celebrate Texas independence with cheap beer, indulge your chocoholic side, and lots more on tap for this weekend. By Jason Koebler

Airborne DC will perform with Zip Zap Circus USA at the Atlas Performing Arts Center Friday. Photograph courtesy of the Airborne DC website.

Thursday, March 1

THEATER: If you love plays but lose track of whether Mercutio is a Montague 40 minutes in, check out the Best of the Source Festival—the four best ten-minute plays from the past four years for ten bucks. The plays, being performed at Atlas Performing Arts Center, tend to be offbeat, action-packed, and easy to follow. 7:30 PM. Can't make it tonight? Catch the show tomorrow at 10 PM.

DANCE: You can shake it with the best of them to “Party Rock Anthem,” but are you down with the hand claps and heel tapping of flamenco? Learn as part of DC’s Flamenco Festival 2012 at GW’s Lisner Auditorium. Beginner class starts at 7 PM; if you have some experience, check out the 9 PM class. Tickets ($10) are available through Ticketmaster or at the Lisner box office. 7 to 10 PM.

FILM: If even after the Oscars, you can’t get enough film, check out the DC Independent Film Festival, which kicks off tonight at the US Navy Heritage Center. Tonight at 6:45, talk about film with Les Blank, a documentary filmmaker who recently won the International Documentary Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award. (Tickets are $14 online or at the door.) Otherwise, wait till 9:30 for the premiere of A Swingin’ Trio, about a really awkward Valentine’s Day dinner shared by a husband, wife, and, potentially, the wife’s lover. Tickets for this show are $10, available here.

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Posted at 10:34 AM/ET, 03/01/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
The opening of “Così Fan Tutte” at the Kennedy Center, the Winter Beer Olympics at Town Tavern, and Flogging Molly at the Fillmore. By Samantha Miller

The Washington National Opera stages Così Fan Tutte. Photograph by Richard H. Smith for Royal Opera House.

Thursday, February 23

ART: “Frida Kahlo: Her Photos” opens tonight at the Artisphere. The first and only showing in the US will feature more than 250 intimate photographs from the artist’s personal collection. There will be a public opening reception tonight from 7 to 10. Free. The show runs through March 25.

FUNDRAISER: Rock band Farewell Republic and alt-rock group Head on Sticks perform at DC9. Proceeds will benefit DC Vote, an organization dedicated to securing full voting representation for DC residents. Tickets ($10) can be purchased at the door or through the venue’s website. Doors open at 8 PM.

BOOKS: Elizabeth Dowling Taylor signs copies of her new book, A Slave in the White House: Paul Jennings and the Madisons, at the Woman’s National Democratic Club. Taylor served as the director of interpretation at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and as a fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. The signing includes a lunch, a presentation, and a Q&A session. Tickets ($30) can be purchased through the event’s website. 2 PM.

KID-FRIENDLY: The Kennedy Center’s production of The Wings of Ikarus Jackson ends today. Adapted from the children’s book Wings, the uplifting story is about a young boy who can fly. Tickets ($18) can be purchased through the KenCen’s website. 12:30 PM.

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Posted at 09:38 AM/ET, 02/23/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Washington Ballet at the Kennedy Center, opening night of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and Estelle at the Birchmere. By Samantha Miller

R&B singer Estelle performs at the Birchmere tonight. Photograph courtesy of the artist’s Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 22

BALLET: The Washington Ballet presents Twyla Tharp: AllAmerican at the Kennedy Center. The program features some of Tharp’s most famous works, including “Push Comes to Shove,” “Surfer at the Styx River,” and “Nice Sinatra Songs.” Tickets ($20 to $125) can be purchased through the KenCen’s website. 8 PM. The show runs though February 26.

MUSIC: South African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo perform at Ram's Head Tavern. The Grammy Award–winning artists have collaborated with everyone from Paul Simon and Dolly Parton to Josh Groban and Stevie Wonder. Tickets ($35) can be purchased through the venue’s website. 8 PM.

R&B singer Estelle brings her tour to the Birchmere. The London native is known for her 2008 hit “American Boy.” Tickets ($29.50) can be purchased through Ticketmaster. 7:30 PM.

KID-FRIENDLY: Olney Theatre Center’s production of You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown opens tonight. In this delightful musical, the Peanuts gang comes to life through song and dance. Tickets ($26 to $39) can be purchased through the theater’s website. 8 PM. The play runs though March 18.

Posted at 06:21 PM/ET, 02/21/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Folk-rock musician William Fitzsimmons at Sixth & I, Rumors’ Bourbon Street Bash, and Japanese movement duo Eiko and Koma at the University of Maryland. By Samantha Miller

Folk-rock singer William Fitzsimmons. Photograph courtesy of the artist’s Facebook page.

Monday, February 20

BOOKS: Sticky Fingers founder Doron Petersan will sign copies of her new book, Sticky Fingers’ Sweets: 100 Super-Secret Vegan Recipes, at the U Street Busboys and Poets. Petersan recently won Food Network’s Cupcake Wars All-Stars with her animal-product-free treats. Free. 6:30 PM.

Tuesday, February 21

MARDI GRAS: Rumors’ 11th annual Bourbon Street Bash returns with drink specials, New Orleans–inspired food, a live performance by Lethal Peanut, dancing, a wing-eating contest, and beads galore. Drink specials include $2 Coors Light, $3 Blue Moon, $4 Bacardi drinks, and $5 Bacardi Hurricanes. 4 PM to close.

Wednesday, February 22

DANCE: Japanese movement duo Eiko and Koma join the Kronos Quartet at the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. The performance, titled Fragile, is modeled after a museum installation, where dancers and musicians draw inspiration from one another’s works. Free; for mature audiences only. 5 PM.

Thursday, February 23

MUSIC: Folk-rock musician William Fitzsimmons performs at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue. His captivating songs have been featured in Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Army Wives. Tickets can be purchased online for $20 or at the door for $23. 8 PM.

Posted at 03:18 PM/ET, 02/17/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Comedian Jason Weems at DC Improv, Disney sensations Allstar Weekend at the Fillmore, and Bar Pilar’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Party. By Samantha Miller

Comedian Jason Weems. Photograph courtesy of Weems’s website.

Tuesday, February 14

See Also:

Washington Valentine's Day Guide

KID-FRIENDLY: Pop-rock band Allstar Weekend are dropping by the Fillmore. The group gained popularity after competing on Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing. You can listen to some of their songs here. Tickets ($18) can be purchased through Live Nation. 6:40 PM.

COMEDY: Funny man Jason Weems brings his standup act to DC Improv. The Baltimore native has appeared on Comedy Central’s Last Comic Standing and at Montreal’s Just for Laughs Festival. Tickets ($15) can be purchased through the club’s website. 8 PM.

DRINKS: During Bar Pilar’s second annual Anti-Valentine’s Day Party, sorrowful singles can devour $7 desserts and $10 bitter cocktails—like the cheekily named Tuff Love, Cheap Date, or Cupid’s Broken Arrow.

MUSIC: Morrissey tribute bands Speedway Operator and Spineless Swine perform at Jammin Java. Tickets can be purchased online for $10 or at the door for $13. 8 PM.

DANCE: Head to the Black Cat for bartender Chad America’s 13th annual Valentine’s Day Rock and Roll dance party. Free. Doors open at 8 PM.

Posted at 04:21 PM/ET, 02/13/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
The music venue hosts a group of 90-year-olds for a Valentine’s Day dance that proves love is timeless. By Tanya Pai

Photograph by Pat Ryan.

De Beers might say diamonds are forever, but love itself is just as ageless. To celebrate that idea, the Fillmore Silver Spring yesterday hosted a Valentine’s Day dance for 90-year-old community members from the campus of Charles E. Smith Life Communities in Rockville, Maryland. More than 100 people attended the event—90 percent of them women—and hit the dance floor to the tunes of live swing and jazz band Night and Day.

“One woman said this was the first time she had danced since her husband passed away two years ago,” says one of the event’s organizers, Anne Schroeder Mullins. The Fillmore plans to make the dance an annual occurrence.

Check out the slideshow for pictures of the event.

Posted at 01:53 PM/ET, 02/13/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()