Metro Weekly

French Toast

The InSeries and Washington Ballet salute French songs in a new show

On the surface you might not expect a collaboration between the InSeries’s Carla Hubner — originally from Chile — and the Washington Ballet’s Septime Webre — of Cuban descent — to result in a show devoted to French music. But La Vie En Rose, which Webre has co-directed and co-choreographed with David Palmer, the ballet’s associate artistic director, reflects their professional histories.

”About eight years ago,” Webre says, ”notable New York-based cabaret artist Karen Akers and I did a project using French cabaret songs — Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel. Just wonderful French cabaret music.” So while brainstorming with Hubner and Palmer about the focus for a new show, Webre was quick to add French cabaret to Hubner’s idea of performing French art songs, or short classical compositions from the romantic period. Webre describes these mostly 19th century pieces, known as mélodies in French, as ”really, really touching and affecting, and delicate.”

La Vie en Rose: Daniel Savetta and Esmiana Jani

La Vie en Rose: Daniel Savetta and Esmiana Jani

(Photo by By Paul Emerson)

Says Hubner, ”In my former incarnation as a performing pianist, I played a lot of Debussy — that was one of my specialties — and my master’s thesis as a musicologist was on Henri Duparc.” Hubner still dabbles as a performing pianist: She’ll join Frank Conlon to accompany the five singers and 12 young dancers from The Washington Ballet Studio Company in La Vie En Rose. The show, in a run this weekend at GALA Theatre, is the fifth cross-genre collaboration between the InSeries and The Washington Ballet.

”It’s not just a dance concert with singers onstage,” Webre explains. The dancers and singers perform both alone and together in a show with a loose narrative thread — mais oui — about love and relationships. From a kind of youthful innocence in Act 1 to a more sober, even somber, Act 2. ”But at the end of the day having no regrets,” Webre says.

When asked to sum up the show’s gay appeal, a laughing Webre zooms in to state the obvious: ”Well, it doesn’t get gayer than listening to Edith Piaf.” ‘

La Vie En Rose is Friday, Jan. 17, and Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m., and Sunday, Jan. 19, at 3 p.m. at GALA Theatre, 3333 14th St. NW. Tickets are $40. Call 202-204-7763 or visit

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