Nordic Adventures

The Kennedy Center serves up a dynamic -- and cool -- international festival

Alicia Adams has a dream job. As vice-president for international programming at the Kennedy Center, Adams serves as curator for the center’s international festivals, travelling the world in search of cultural enrichments.

“We try to present those artists that we have not focused on in any major way,” says Adams by phone from a far-away, foreign land where she’s researching the center’s next international festival. “And that’s one of the reasons we’re doing Northern Europe.”

Vesturport Metamorphosis

Vesturport Metamorphosis

(Photo by Eggert Jonsson)

Hence, Nordic Cool, a month-long festival debuting Tuesday, Feb. 19, with a Concert Hall performance by Sweden’s Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra. It continues through March 17 with a vast assortment of theater, films, concerts, dance performances, readings, culinary events and exhibitions that are at once staggering in scope and, in some cases, spectacle. For example, over the month, the center will nightly ”play host” to Norway’s famed northern lights, as the facade will be lit to replicate the rich, dazzling colors of the aurora borealis.

Adams won’t single out any one performance — unless pressed: She feels that the stage adaptation of Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander is a do-not-miss opportunity (March 7-9, Eisenhower). She also points out that Bird in Magic Rain with Tears (Feb. 20-21, Terrace), presented by Norway’s Winter Guests, is of interest to gay patrons given that the drama centers on the love affair between a dying businessman and a male prostitute. Among the more unique grace notes: a game-play space in the Nations Gallery featuring some fairly well-known titles, including Lego and Finland’s Angry Birds, as well as a hands-on knitting workshop (March 2, Grand Foyer).

With a budget of $8 million, Nordic Cool is no small feat for the Kennedy Center. However, the event is mainly supported through fundraising. “One of the things [Kennedy Center President] Michael Kaiser does is to purposely keep the ticket prices low,” says Adams, noting that the festivals are seen as an exercise in community enrichment. “It’s part of our job in terms of representing the people of the United States — a whole bunch of immigrants from all over the world — and having it reflected from our stages.”

In all, the center will import 750 performers from the Nordic region. Laughs Adams, “Needless to say the visa process is monumental.” ‘

For a full listing of events, times and dates, visit kennedy-center.org/nordiccool or call 202-467-4600.

Randy Shulman is Metro Weekly's Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He can be reached at rshulman@metroweekly.com.

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