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They've got big plans for those plastic balls. By Emily Codik
Rejoice! The plastic balls will live on. Photo by Lauren Joseph.

You have until September 7 to visit the National Building Museum's all-white ballpit exhibition, "The Beach." If you don't make it over there in time, don't fret. You'll soon have the chance to see some of its plastic balls elsewhere--only they'll be part of a completely new project.

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Posted at 12:27 PM/ET, 08/26/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Plus, a look at other locally sold papal souvenirs. By Jackson Knapp
Give yourself the gift of a pope bobblehead! All photos by Jackson Knapp.

Pope Francis' DC trip is less than a month away. So how are people preparing for his visit? Purchasing papal bobbleheads, of course.

An article published Tuesday in the Washington Post took readers inside the "Papal Industrial Complex" and the wacky souvenirs that have popped up in gift shops in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia in anticipation of the pope's tour. According to the Post's Steve Hendrix, you can credit the pope's "populist touch” for his "pop star status." That might help explain the mass-merchandising of his likeness in the form of T-shirts, trinkets, and even dolls. (There's even Pope Francis cologne!)

The Catholic Information Center, located at 1501 K Street, Northwest, has embraced this “pope-apalooza” by stocking its shelves with some nifty papal accessories. Here’s a selection of what's in stock right now.

Souvenir: “I [Bishop’s Hat] Pope Francis” T-shirt

What it'll cost you: $15

Souvenir: Pope Francis doll

What it'll cost you: $26.95

Souvenir: Rosary with Pope Francis’ official cross

What it'll cost you: $17.50

Souvenir: Mini prayer book

What it'll cost you: $1.95

Souvenir: Pope Francis bobblehead

What it'll cost you: $19.95

Posted at 03:36 PM/ET, 08/25/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
John Grade's "Middle Fork" will be exhibited at the Renwick Gallery in November. By Emily Codik
A peek inside John Grade's "Middle Fork" sculpture. Photo courtesy of the artist.

John Grade's "Middle Fork" was created in Washington state, but the finished sculpture will be exhibited in DC's Renwick Gallery when the historic space reopens on November 13. A sculptor of dynamic, large-scale objects that typically involve community involvement, Grade started working on the piece in April of last year. The first step: A group of eight spent about two weeks working on the ambitious (and seemingly grueling) task of casting a living, 140-year-old hemlock tree near the Snoqualmie River. Thanks to the help of tree-climbing rigs, they hung nearly 90 feet in the air and painstakingly applied layer after layer of foil and plaster cast.

Next, the artist invited the public into a Seattle studio to help cover the cast with quarter-inch cedar blocks. The result is a hollow, 40-foot-long sculpture built out of hundreds of thousands of tiny blocks--a mesmerizing piece that mimics the tree's lower half and offers viewers a unique look inside a massive trunk form. Following its exhibition tour, Grade will place the biodegradable sculpture on the ground near the original hemlock in Washington state, where it'll disintegrate into the earth. You can hear more about how the stunning piece was made--and will ultimately be destroyed--in the video below.

"Middle Fork" is part of the Renwick's opening show, WONDER, an immersive exhibition featuring nine contemporary artists, including Maya Lin, designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Wonder will run through July 10.

Quarter-inch cedar blocks were placed onto the cast by volunteers in Seattle. Photo by Amos Morgen, courtesy of CYNTHIA-REEVES.
The sculpture's surface was evened out with a sanding machine, bringing together each individual contribution into a single whole. Photo by Amos Morgen, courtesy of CYNTHIA-REEVES.
After exhibiting in DC and a few other museums, the sculpture will be placed back in the forest to disintegrate on the ground. Photo courtesy CYNTHIA-REEVES.
The 40-foot sculpture represents the lower half of a 140-year-old hemlock tree. Photo courtesy CYNTHIA-REEVES.

Posted at 12:19 PM/ET, 08/25/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Here are the best events around town. By Heather Rudow
There's a 6 AM dance party happening this week. Photo by Travis Vaughn.

MONDAY, AUGUST 24

YOGA: If you want to check out a performance at the Kennedy Center without paying a hefty price tag, nothing beats the free shows at Millennium Stage. Tonight, they're doing something a little unconventional: Local studio Yoga Heights presents #Yoga4all, a basic introduction to the discipline. In addition to watching a demonstration, attendees will have the opportunity to do some yoga themselves. Not a bad way to unwind on a Monday night. Free, 6 PM.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 25

MUSIC: Sing your heart out with A People’s Choir DC. Each month, the self-described “casual singalong” chooses a theme and asks anyone and everyone to join them in song. There’s no sheet music required--only the desire to get together, belt some tunes, and have fun. The choir's theme this month is "motion"; they're performing at DC9. Free, 8 PM.

SHOP: It might be called a yard sale, but you wont find any VHS tapes of Full House here. August 25 through September 7, all five floors of the Mansion on O Street will be open to the public for a unique shopping experience. Items for sale include memorabilia, sculptures, furniture, and funky vintage jewelry. Bucking typical yard sale traditions, anyone dressed in costume gets a five-percent discount off their purchase. Free, 10 AM to 7 PM.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 26

FILM: The Washington Jewish Film Festivals Screen Giants Summer Series presents the intense crime drama Dog Day Afternoon. Based on the true story of a newbies first bank robbery attempt gone awry, Al Pacino is untouchable as Sonny Wortzik, the unlucky criminal who's trying to get himself out of this mess unscathed. Festival tickets arent sold for individual films, so youll get to see two movies for the price of one. The series runs through August 30, which gives you plenty of time to check out the other great films in the lineup. $13 for two films, $25 for all four films, 8:30 PM.

DANCE: When it comes to 6 AM dance parties, there are two schools of thought: Its either a brilliant way to perk up before shoving off to work, or its the most obnoxious scenario imaginable. For those of us with the first mindset, check out Daybreaker--an international movement dedicated to shaking up the way we spend our mornings. The idea is to get you grooving early: Grip the Mat will let you try their unique brand of yoga, and Riide will bring bikes to share, all while local DJ Will Eastman ensures you have music to dance to. Coffee, tea, juices, and snacks will be provided. $30 for yoga and dance party, $20 for the dance party, 6 to 9 AM.

MUSIC: It’s time to bust out those acid-washed jeans: The '80s are alive and well at Town Danceboutique on Wednesday. You Spin Me 'Round: An '80s Prom features DC vocalists Bayla Whitten and Warren Freeman and dance party maestro DJ Shea Van Horn who will be bringing you their interpretations of '80s hits. Attendees will also have the opportunity to learn real Broadway choreography by actual Broadway dancers. Here’s hoping it looks a little something like "Thriller." $30, 9 PM.

Posted at 09:32 AM/ET, 08/24/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
The Washington Ballet's magical director is larger than life. So why is his company still small? By Sarah Wildman
Photograph by Joshua Cogan.

Backstage at the Kennedy Center on opening night of the Washington Ballet’s Sleepy Hollow, bewigged dancers line the walls, stretching their legs into unlikely shapes. Children dressed as fireflies and pumpkins giggle in buzzing packs. And bejeweled patrons push in through the double doors, ignoring them all.

The visitors are here to see the choreographer. Septime Webre accepts hand after hand, kiss after kiss, his hair swinging—layered from cheek to chin, thick and dark, streaked with silver. In his black-on-black tuxedo, Webre walks the halls alongside his partner, Marc Cipullo, himself in a knee-length black fur coat, blond hair hanging nearly to his shoulders—Prince Valiant but fierce. The couple moves through the crowd as though on water.

“That wasn’t ballet—that was theater!” a man gushes.

I don’t see Webre again until the after-party at the Ritz-Carlton, and even then only from afar. For hours following the show, a scrum of admirers surrounds him, the rock star of dance in the nation’s capital.

Webre is used to the adulation. The artistic director of the Washington Ballet is marking his 16th year at the helm. He was in his thirties when he arrived to exuberant press—an “Energizer bunny,” the New York Times boomed—ready to deliver a roundhouse kick to a sleepy ballet community. In a decade and a half, he landed a series of them: A tour to Cuba. World premieres. Radical changes to the choreographic repertoire.

Along the way, his local reputation grew. It was the kind of profile built by someone who—to put it in ballet terms—longs to break free of the corps into principal roles.

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Posted at 04:00 PM/ET, 08/23/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Cuban jams at Wolf Trap on August 29. By Emily Codik
Photograph courtesy of Wolf Trap.

To understand the Buena Vista Social Club, you should first picture Havana in the ’40s and ’50s, when the city experienced a great cultural boom and birthed mambo, pachanga, and cha-cha in rapid succession. Then came revolution, restrictions, and governmental crackdowns. The nightclubs and casinos where brilliant artists once frolicked were shut down.

That’s how Ibrahim Ferrer, whom some consider the Cuban Nat King Cole, ended up working as a shoeshiner and how Compay Segundo, a renowned guitarist who favored Panama hats, wound up making a living rolling cigars.

Everything changed in the ’90s, when American musician Ry Cooder rallied these old-timers and created a stellar album that sold millions of copies, led to an equally stellar documentary, and thrust these once-forgotten musicians—some of them in their eighties—to international fame. “No one imagined this project would be so successful,” says Omara Portuondo, an 84-year-old singer and member.

Ferrer, Segundo, and others have passed away, but those who remain stand as monuments to the cultural riches of Havana. Now, with a recently opened Cuban embassy in Washington, the Buena Vista Social Club embarks on its final tour as an ensemble. The group, described by Portuondo as the “ambassadors of Cuban music,” may soon have an official ambassador of its very own.

Tickets, $25 to $50; wolftrap.org.

This article appears in our August 2015 issue of Washingtonian.

Posted at 08:48 AM/ET, 08/21/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Here are the best events around town. By Heather Rudow
Liner Notes performs at the Atlas Performing Arts Center this weekend. Photo by Colin Hovde.

THURSDAY, AUGUST 20

KARAOKE: The only thing that makes Sticky Rice’s delicious sushi-meets-comfort-food (bucket of Tots, anyone?) more appetizing is the H Street joint’s karaoke Thursdays. Whether you’re certain you could be the next Miley Cyrus, or you’re just looking to drink sake bombs, this promises to be an entertaining night. Free, 10:30 PM.

OPEN MIC NIGHT: Upshur Street Books adds more sweat to this already balmy August with their Romantic Romps: Summer Sultry Edition event. Write a steamy, romantic passage then read it in front of a crowd. If you have writer's block, you can read a ridiculous passage from a book off the 99-cent rack. Too shy to read sexy things out loud? The good people of Upshur Books are volunteering to perform your passage for you. Free, 8 PM.

EAT: We’ve all been regaled with talk of the virtues of organic food and farm-to-table diets, but the National Museum of American History’s third annual Food in the Garden goes a bit deeper. A panel of scientists, historians, and researchers will talk about seeds: the ways they’ve nourished us in the past, what the future holds, and how seed technology has impacted the way we eat. Tickets get you two drinks and “garden fresh food.” $40, 6 to 8 PM.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 21

ARTS: Liner Notes performs at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, combining actual liner notes with live music, art, and poetry. The group--featuring Paige Hernandez, Baye Harrell, Akua Allrich, and Kris Funn’s Corner Store Jazz Quintet--offers its own take on a medley of famous hip hop jams. $22 to $27, 8 PM.

FILM: E Street Cinema’s midnight movies are typically in the “it's so bad, it’s good” genre, and tonight’s pick, Zardoz, is no exception. The flick stars a young and bare-chested Sean Connery, whose character hopes to change the fate of his people, the Brutals. The trailer (above) is bonkers. $9, 11:59 PM.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 22

PODCAST IRL: The witty, fast-talking, mother-daughter comedy Gilmore Girls has reached the ranks of a cult classic--remember when the series finally hit Netflix and everyone freaked out? The hit podcast Gilmore Guys, however, may need more explaining. Here's what it is: a podcast hosted by two male Gilmore Girls fans, who excitedly talk about episodes from the series. Just like Luke and Lorelai, the chemistry between hosts Kevin T. Porter and Demi Adejuyigbe is palpable and endearing. The guys make their way to Sixth & I for a live podcast. $15 in advance, $18 day of show, 8 PM.

MUSIC: Chuck Brown would have been 79 today, and the Chuck Brown Band is celebrating the Godfather of Go-Go the way he would have wanted it: busting loose with a free show at Chuck Brown Memorial Park. Free, 4 to 8 PM.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 23

FILM: The Comcast Outdoor Film Festival presents several movies this weekend in the Montgomery County Public Schools Board of Education’s parking lot, giving Washington residents a drive-in movie theater experience that's relatively close to home. On Sunday, they’re screening Guardians of the Galaxy. Movies begin at dusk.

CLOTHES: Get rid of the old clothes in your closet and get some new(ish) items. Goodwill of Greater Washington hosts a Swap and Shop. They’ll take your clothes, shoes, and accessories, so long they're in good condition, and let you swap them for new additions to your wardrobe. $5 suggested donation, 11 AM to 2 PM.

Posted at 10:20 AM/ET, 08/20/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
They're betting on a new formal wear line created by a violinist. By Emily Codik
The National Symphony Orchestra's violins and cellos at a performance in January 2015. It can get hot up there! Photo by Scott Suchman.

Steven Wilson is tired of wearing stiff tuxedo shirts on stage. And the National Symphony Orchestra bassoonist isn't alone. He says many male musicians struggle with wearing uncomfortable clothes during performances. "It's just not very comfortable," he explains, "to play these very demanding instruments, in a range of conditions, wearing clothing that is not all designed for that purpose."

So when he read about Coregami--a new type of tuxedo shirt designed for musicians that looks like formal wear but breathes like a Lululemon tee--in the New York Times, he joined the long list of performers from across the country who have preordered the $119.99 shirt. Developed by Kevin Yu, a violinist and businessman from Dallas, Coregami is its very own category of formal wear: They're calling it "performal."

The brand promises to keep musicians "cool as a cat all night long," with a soft, stretchy, moisture-wicking fabric that helps to manage body temperature and draws sweat. (It can get pretty hot on stage.) The biggest perk: Shirts are machine-washable and don't require dry-cleaning.

Wilson will have to wait until his new shirt arrives in November. (Coregami sold out of its first stock of 300 shirts in only nine days.) For the bassoonist, the shirt's success hinges on its ability to hold up to repeated wearing and washing. "I'm mostly interested to see how the collar and the front pleats hold their shape," he says.

Posted at 04:17 PM/ET, 08/19/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
These shows may sell out soon. By Sarah Ehlen
MS MR performs in DC on October 1. Get your tickets before the show sells out! Photo courtesy 930 Club.

Mindy Kaling's September appearance at Sixth and I sold out in two minutes. These 14 shows haven't sold out yet, but you should really buy tickets for them soon.

Chelsea Clinton

Politics and Prose

Thursday, September 24 at 7 PM

In Clinton's new book, It’s Your World, the former first daughter covers a range of topics—from poverty to endangered species—and discusses how we can become inspired to overcome the world’s challenges. A ticket gets you a copy of the book and a signature from Ms. Clinton. Don't expect to snap a selfie with Chelsea, though. Posed photos and remarks from the author aren't on the schedule. $19.

Lenny Kravitz

Wolf Trap

Tuesday, September 1 at 8 PM

The “American Woman” singer comes to Washington this September for a night of rock music and outrageous style. The four-time Grammy winner will bring his greatest hits—both new and old—as well as plenty of pairs of sunglasses. $40 to $75.

Gilmore Guys Live: A Stars Hollow Town Meeting

Sixth & I

Saturday, August 22 at 8 PM

Two male podcasters with an undying love for all things Gilmore Girls take their show on the road and make a stop in DC. Join them as they chat about favorite episodes, analyze characters, and “bro out.” $15.

Ina Garten: Barefoot Contessa

Lisner Auditorium

Thursday, October 8 at 7:30 PM

Home cooks won’t want to miss this chance to see Food Network’s favorite Hamptonite. Ina Garten will share tales and tips of her experiences as an Emmy-winning TV personality and a culinary star. An audience Q&A will follow, so come prepared with a question or two for the Barefoot Contessa. $65 to $75.

Savion Glover

Howard Theatre

Thursday, August 27 and Saturday, August 29 at 8 PM

The tap dance legend brings his Tony Award-winning quick steps to the Howard Theatre stage. With several movie, TV, and Broadway appearances under his belt, Glover is sure to put on a captivating performance with a mix of both choreographed and free-style moves. $35 to $55.

The Pope visits DC September 22 through 24. Get the inside scope on the Vatican from Nat Geo. Photo by Dave Yoder.

Pope Francis and the New Vatican

National Geographic Museum

Wednesday, September 16 at 7:30 PM

Study up on your papal knowledge before the Holy Father touches down in DC later in the month. National Geographic editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg will moderate the conversation with a special guest from the Archdiocese. $22.50 for members, $25 for non-members.

Ed Sheeran

Verizon Center

Tuesday, September 22 and Wednesday, September 23 at 7:30 PM

The popular British singer/songwriter will perform in DC for two nights, bringing along “Jar of Hearts” singer Christina Perri as an opener. Known for his soulful acoustic stylings, Sheeran promises to entice audience members with his tender lyrics and impressive loop pedal harmonies. $33 to $90.

Nick Jonas

The Fillmore Silver Spring

Tuesday, September 29 at 7:30 PM

Gone are the days of the Jonas Brothers, but the youngest JoBro has picked up the performance slack. Following his appearances on NBC’s The Voice last season, Jonas put together a nationwide concert tour that showcases his new musical vibes and solo career--sans brothers. $29.50.

MS MR

9:30 Club

Thursday, October 1 at 7 PM

The New York-native indie pop duo just released their second album in July. Soon they're taking their Florence and the Machine-like vibes on an international tour. Catch them at their DC stop this October for a show of beat-driven tunes and psychedelic lights. $30.

Beautiful—The Carole King Musical

The Kennedy Center

October 6 through October 25

Follow the musical journey of King from her role in a songwriting team to her brilliant and successful solo career as one of history’s greatest contributors to pop music. $39 to $150.

An Intimate Evening with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen

Warner Theatre

Saturday, October 17 at 8 PM

Ever wondered what it would be like to have Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen chatting in your living room? Wonder no longer as the CNN and Bravo hosts star in a completely unscripted show where they talk about anything and everything. You’ll laugh, cry, cringe, and clap right along with them. $75 to $125.

Craig Ferguson

Weinberg Center for the Arts

Monday, October 19 at 7:30 PM

Need a laugh? Craig Ferguson's comedic wit is sure to delight audiences; relive The Late Late Show glory days with our favorite Scottish funnyman this fall. $46 to $56.

Antigone

The Kennedy Center

October 22 through 25

Sophocles’ classic tale gets a contemporary portrayal on stage this fall when renowned actress Juliette Binoche plays the role of Antigone in one of history’s greatest tragedies. In the wake of her brother’s death, Antigone chooses familial loyalty over patriotism when she decides to bury her brother—a national traitor—against the governor’s orders. $69 to $145.

Women photographed in Afghanistan. Photo by Lynsey Addario.

It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War

National Geographic Museum

November 11

Photojournalist Lynsey Addario shares her experience as a war zone reporter, explaining how she balances her safety with capturing the perfect photo. She's gotten kidnapped twice and experienced numerous death threats. She's also earned a Pulitzer Prize. Don’t miss this chance to hear her story and see her photos. $22.50 for members, $25 for non-members.

Posted at 04:48 PM/ET, 08/17/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()
Here are the best events around town. By Heather Rudow
Local band Shark Week performs at the Pinch Monday night. Photo by Austin Crittendon.

MONDAY, AUGUST 17

FILM: The Black Cat brings platform nine and three-quarters to the non-wizard folk with Muggle Mondays. Tonight, they’re screening Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Kick off the week with one of their butterbeer drink specials. No cover, 7 PM.

MUSIC: Shark Week—DC’s fuzzy, surf rock quartet—is known for their high-energy performances. But this show at the Pinch’s homey basement lounge has an extra perk: Throughout the night, Wesley Wolfe will demonstrate the meticulous art of hand-lathing vinyl records. No cover, 7 PM.

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Posted at 09:30 AM/ET, 08/17/2015 | Permalink | Comments ()