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Woo at the Zoo, the opening of “Genesis Robot” at Synetic Theater, and the Washington DC International Wine & Food Festival. By Samantha Miller

Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg and pianist Brian Ganz come to Washington this weekend. Photograph of Salerno-Sonnenberg by Christian Steiner; photograph of Ganz courtesy of the artist’s website.

Be sure to check out our Valentine's Day guides for couples and singles. Some events start this weekend.

Thursday, February 9

MUSIC: Violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg joins the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. The concert will feature Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto No. 1 and Bruckner’s Symphony No. 9. Tickets ($20 to $85) can be purchased through the KenCen’s website. 7 PM. The show runs through February 11.

FILM: The Smithsonian American Art Museum hosts a free screening of Modern Times in the Kogod Courtyard. In the 1936 comedy, Charlie Chaplin falls in love with an orphan girl. Food and beverages will be available for purchase in the Courtyard Cafe. 7 to 8:30 PM.

THEATER: Synetic Theater’s new work, Genesis Reboot, opens tonight. Written and directed by Ben Cunis, the show takes a fresh look at the creation story. A limited number of $10 tickets are available for this performance only through the box office; regular-price tickets ($45 to $55) can be purchased through the theater’s website. 8 PM. The show runs though March 4.

Catch a preview of WSC Avant Bard’s Les Justes tonight at the Artisphere. Based on true events, the 1950 drama follows a group of Russian revolutionaries. Tickets for tonight’s performance are pay what you can; tickets for future showings ($25 to $35) can be purchased through the theater’s website. 7:30 PM. The play runs through March 11.

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Posted at 05:11 PM/ET, 02/08/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Kennedy Center, pianist and vocalist Tony DeSare at Strathmore, and “Un-American” at Signature Theatre. By Samantha Miller

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s Kirven James Boyd and Linda Celeste Sims. Photographs by Andrew Eccles.

Monday, February 6

THEATER: Signature in Schools presents Un-American at Signature Theatre. In this limited engagement starring Arlington students, two rival high schools face off in a local TV game show. If you can’t make this performance, there’s another one on February 10. Free. 7:30 PM.

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Posted at 03:40 PM/ET, 02/03/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
The American Ballet Theatre at the Kennedy Center, a French wine tasting at Agora, and R&B singer Marc Broussard at the Birchmere. By Samantha Miller

The American Ballet Theatre performs a scene from Thirteen Diversions. Photograph by Rosalie O’Conner.

Tuesday, January 31

BALLET: The American Ballet Theatre brings La Bayadére to the Kennedy Center. Tonight’s mixed repertory program features scenes from Black Tuesday, Manon, Don Quixote, and Thirteen Diversons. Tickets ($25 to $99) can be purchased through the KenCen’s website. 7:30 PM. The show runs through February 5.

WINE: Agora is hosting a French wine tasting tonight. Guests can sample a variety of wines from the Southwest region, including Domaine Laplace’s “Autour du Fruit” Madiran 2009 and “Les Sarments Rouge” Madiran 2008. Each tasting will be paired with a selection of canapés by executive chef Ghassan Jarrouj. Reservations ($30) can be made by calling 202-332-6767. 6 to 7:30 PM.

BOOKS: Historian Douglas Brinkley signs copies of his new book, The Quiet World, at the Barnes and Noble in downtown DC. The renowned author is also a Vanity Fair contributing editor and a history commentator for CBS News. Free. 6:30 PM.

MUSIC: R&B singer Marc Broussard performs at the Birchmere tonight. “His music radiates soulful Louisiana blues, but his songs blend those influences with raucous rock ’n’ roll to create unique and infectious music,” says NPR. You can listen to some of his songs here. Tickets ($35) can be purchased through Ticketmaster. 7:30 PM.

Posted at 04:39 PM/ET, 01/30/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
“Josephine Tonight!” opens at MetroStage, the 16th annual MSP Polar Bear Plunge, and Chinatown’s annual Chinese New Year parade. By Samantha Miller

Adam Green and Euan Morton star in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s staging of The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Thursday, January 26

ART: Art Soiree hosts Apocalyptoon 2012’s opening reception at the Artisphere. The pop-up exhibit will feature works from the country’s top cartoonists, including the Washington Post’s Tom Toles, the Economist’s Kal, and MSNBC’s Daryl Cagle. Guests can enjoy live music, complimentary snacks, and a cash bar. Tickets ($25) can be purchased through the Artisphere’s website. 6 PM. The exhibition runs through January 29.

THEATER: Don’t miss opening night of Josephine Tonight! at MetroStage. Directed and choreographed by Maurice Hines, the musical follows Josephine Baker’s journey from small-town girl to French movie star. Tickets for tonight’s pay-what-you-can performance are available at the door; tickets for future performances ($45 to $50) can be purchased through Box Office Tickets. 8 PM. The play runs through March 18.

MUSIC: Clarinetist Jörg Widmann joins the National Symphony Orchestra in “Armonica.” The program will also feature works by Mozart and Schubert. Tickets ($20 to $85) can be purchased through the Kennedy Center’s website. 7 PM. The show runs though January 29.

Jazz-funk artist Roy Ayers performs at Blues Alley tonight. The venerable musician has brought us hits including “Everybody Loves the Sunshine,” “Running Away,” and “We Live In Brooklyn, Baby.” Tickets ($40) can be purchased through the club’s website. 10 PM.

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Posted at 06:01 PM/ET, 01/25/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Ladytron at U Street Music Hall, a free performance by Ballet Teatro Internacional at the Shakespeare Theatre Company, and a wine dinner at Red Rocks in Columbia Heights. By Samantha Miller

Synth-pop group Ladytron. Photograph courtesy of the group’s Facebook page.

MUSIC: Mike Flaherty’s Dixieland Direct Jazz Band are giving a free performance at the Kennedy Center. The group fuses traditional New Orleans Dixieland music with swing and blues. You can listen to some of their songs here. 6 PM.

Synth-pop band Ladytron are dropping by U Street Music Hall tonight. The European imports’ “shadowy sound has been compared to that of electroclash groups like Fischerspooner and to the darker work of New Order,” says NPR. Ladytron will be joined by deejays Reuben Wu, Shea Van Horn, and Cale. Tickets ($5; free for 21 and up) can be purchased at the door. 9 PM.

BALLET: Washington’s own Ballet Teatro Internacional presents a free lunchtime performance at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. The show will feature classic and contemporary ballet. Free. Noon.

WINE: Red Rocks in Columbia Heights is whipping up a five-course wine dinner. The spread includes passed appetizers, wild boar meatballs, antipasto, pizza, and poached pears. Each course will be paired with a wine from Siema Wines. Reservations ($50) can be made by calling 202-506-1402. 6:30 to 9:30 PM.

Posted at 03:21 PM/ET, 01/24/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Violinist Joshua Bell at the Kennedy Center, opening night of “The Gaming Table” at Folger Theatre, and the Mark Morris Dance Group performing “L’Allegro.” By Samantha Miller

The Mark Morris Dance Group performs L’Allegro. Photograph by Elaine Mayson Photography.

Monday, January 23

MUSIC: Violinist Joshua Bell joins pianist Sam Haywood at the Kennedy Center. “The only criticism that comes to mind about [Bell’s] performances is that they are sometimes too beautiful,” says writer Charles T. Downey. Tonight’s concert will feature works by Mendelssohn, Brahms, Ravel, and Gershwin. Tickets ($45 to $115) can be purchased through the KenCen’s website. 8 PM.

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Posted at 05:17 PM/ET, 01/20/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo at the McLean Community Center, electronica duo Screen Vinal Image at the Black Cat, and “Trippin’ On E!” at the Riot Act. By Samantha Miller

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo in Gaîté Parisienne. Photograph courtesy of the ballet company’s website.

BALLET: Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo perform at the McLean Community Center tonight. The all-male dance company pokes fun at classical ballet with surprisingly graceful technique. You can watch one of the troupe’s performances here. Tickets ($45) can be purchased through the event’s website. 8 PM. The show runs through January 19.

MUSIC: Electronica duo Screen Vinal Image are bringing their psychedelic sounds to the Black Cat. The Arlington natives released their new album, Strange Behavior, earlier this month. Tickets ($10) can be purchased through the club’s website. Doors open at 8 PM.

Kompa band Rafrechi are giving a free performance at the Kennedy Center. Led by Pierre “Kiki” Jodnerson, the Haitian-born group fuses hip-hop, R&B, and soul. 6 PM.

COMEDY: During “Trippin’ On E!” at the Riot Act, audience members can experience music, poetry, sketch, and standup all in one show. The lineup includes comedians Lamont KingEddie BryantRay Lipowski, and lyric poet Reesa Renee. Tickets ($20) can be purchased through the theater’s website. 7:30 PM.

THEATER: If you haven’t already, head to Theater J for a showing of The Religion Thing. The story follows a Washington couple’s attempt to balance religion, faith, and relationship woes. “For a play that could get so tangled up in sweeping universal questions of modern humanity, the often laugh-out-loud action feels present and personal,” says writer Gwendolyn Purdom. Read the full review here. Tickets ($25 to $60) can be purchased through the theater’s website. 7:30 PM. The play runs through January 29.

Posted at 06:11 PM/ET, 01/17/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Opening night of “La Cage aux Folles” at the Kennedy Center, indie pop band Harper Blynn at the Iota Club, and Stephanie Mills at the Birchmere. By Samantha Miller

Christopher Sieber and George Hamilton in La Cage aux Folles, opening tonight. Photograph courtesy of the Kennedy Center.

Tuesday, January 17

THEATER: The Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles opens tonight at the Kennedy Center. The Tony Award–winning musical stars George Hamilton as Georges, the gay manager of a glitzy nightclub, and his drag queen partner, played by Christopher Sieber. Tickets ($65 to $130) can be purchased through the KenCen’s Web site. 7:30 PM. The show runs through February 12.

MUSIC: Indie pop band Harper Blynn are dropping by the Iota Club and Cafe. “If pop hooks were Monopoly money, this foursome would be buying hotels on Park Place by now,” says Time Out New York. You can listen to some of their songs here. Tickets ($10) can be purchased at the door. 8:30 PM.

R&B singer Stephanie Mills performs at the Birchmere tonight. The former Broadway star won a Grammy Award for her song “Never Knew Love Like This Before.” Tickets ($69.50) can be purchased through Ticketmaster. 7:30 PM.

BALLET: The Mariinsky Ballet Company brings Les Saisons Russes to the Kennedy Center. The dance features three works by Michel Fokine, including “Chopiniana,” “Scheherazade,” and “The Firebird.” Tickets ($29 to $150) can be purchased through the KenCen’s Web site. 7:30 PM. The show runs through January 22.

FOOD: If you haven’t already, head to Alexandria for the city’s Restaurant Week. Nearly 60 eateries are offering $35 three-course dinners or meals for two. Click here for a list of participating venues.

Posted at 09:34 AM/ET, 01/17/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Drew Gibson at the Iota Club and Cafe, young adult novelist Walter Dean Myers at Politics and Prose, and salsa lessons at the Artisphere. By Samantha Miller

Richmond native Drew Gibson comes to Iota Club and Cafe tonight. Photograph by Todd Hale.

Tuesday, January 10

MUSIC: Guitarist Drew Gibson is performing at the Iota Club and Cafe tonight. The Richmond native “cites early Bruce Springsteen and Paul Simon as influences, but it’s apparent he also counts blues masters such as Son House and Mississippi John Hurt in his list of inspirations,” says the Washington Post. Tickets ($10) can be purchased at the door. 8:30 PM.

KID-FRIENDLY: Young adult novelist Walter Dean Myers and children’s authors Jon Scieszka and Katherine Paterson are stopping by Politics and Prose. The award-winning authors will discuss their duties as national Ambassadors for Young People’s Literature; a book signing will follow. Recommended for children 8 and up. Free. 4:30 PM.

FILM: In the mood for a ’90s throwback? Then head to the Black Cat for back-to-back screenings of Can’t Hardly Wait and Clueless. Champagne and Prosecco cocktails will be available for purchase. Free. Doors open at 8 PM.

DANCE: DJ Bruno “El Unico” will spin energizing rhythms during Artisphere’s salsa lesson and party. Tickets ($8) can be purchased through the Artisphere Web site. Dance class starts at 7:30 PM; the party begins at 8:30 PM.

FOOD: During DC Restaurant Week, more than 200 restaurants will offer three-course lunches for $20.12 and dinners for $35.12, unless otherwise noted. If you haven’t already, read our tips for tackling the long list of offers.

Posted at 09:23 AM/ET, 01/10/2012 | Permalink | Comments ()
Cirque du Soleil brings its touring show, Quidam, to the Verizon Center this week. By Sophie Gilbert

Image courtesy Cirque du Soleil

Since Guy Laliberté founded Cirque du Soleil in 1984, the company has grown from a troupe of Montreal street performers to a global entertainment monolith with more than 5,000 employees and a predicted 2011 revenue of around $1 billion. Whether you love the company (100 million people have seen their shows worldwide) or hate them (the Wall Street Journal ran this diatribe earlier this year), it’s impossible not to be impressed by the company’s fusion of mind-boggling acrobatics, live music, and circus theatrics.

Cirque du Soleil rolls into the Verizon Center this week with Quidam, a show about a lonely girl transported to a fantasy world, which originally debuted in 1996. “Quidam,” which translates as “nameless passer-by,” describes the mysterious headless character who facilitates the girl’s trip through her new, surreal environment. “She’s ignored by her parents, and she’s trying to find new adventures in her life,” says performer Adrienn Banhegyi, who jumps rope in the show. A former competitive jump rope artist from Hungary, Banhegyi joined Cirque du Soleil more than a year ago and has been touring with the company ever since. “We’re different characters speaking different languages, but we spend most of our time together—working together, eating together, traveling together—so it becomes like a family,” she says.

In addition to jump rope (and this is no average double dutch), Quidam incorporates aerial silk acrobatics, hand-balancing, juggling, “statue” acrobatics (a genre Cirque du Soleil has virtually made its own), and banquine, in which 15 different artists hurl each other into the air. The show also features six live musicians performing a score by Benoit Jutras. Even the set itself involves a degree of artistry: It includes a giant arch made from five 120-foot aluminum rails, and the specially designed rubber floor has more than 200,000 perforations to allow light to shine through it. To learn how to apply her makeup, Banhegyi spent three weeks training with professionals in Montreal, and her elaborate face paint still takes 50 minutes each day to complete.

The show relies on a certain amount of audience interaction, so be prepared to perform if you’re sitting close to the stage. “It’s an emotional show,” Banhegyi says. “Sometimes you laugh, and at other points it’s more touching. No two shows are the same, because you have to find the connection with the audience and see how they like it. But it really is a magical world.”

Cirque du Soleil: Quidam is at the Verizon Center November 16 through 20. Tickets ($43 to $118) are available through Ticketmaster.

Posted at 11:17 AM/ET, 11/14/2011 | Permalink | Comments ()