Having survived the winter deluge of dancing Nutcrackers, audiences in the D.C. region this spring will find themselves positively spoiled with the impressive variety of dance performances on offer. Beloved local companies from Dissonance Dance Theater to Jane Franklin Dance, Bowen McCauley to Step Afrika! premiere exciting new works, while touring companies like Chicago’s esteemed Hiplet Ballerina Company, Cuba’s Malpaso Dance Company, and De Dansers from The Netherlands introduce their styles and talents to new audiences. Opportunities abound to explore contemporary forms, and be dazzled by creators and innovators in street-dance and hip-hop. Or, learn from the best how to step, whack, juke, or even spin out your own fly moves at performance-party The SPILL, hosted by LGBTQIA dance troupe Excessive Realness. And if whacking and juking aren’t exactly your thing, just jeté into an evening of world-class ballet or thrilling modern, and get your fix of the beauty, power, and prowess that keeps all of Washington dancing, be it to Go-Go music, hula, or, of course, Tchaikovsky.
Editor’s Note: Some events might be postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. Please check ahead with the individual venues.
Dance Metro DC Presents Performance in Progress — In a program facilitating feedback for works-in-progress, twelve choreographic groups perform contemporary, modern, dance theater, and tap works they’ve been developing in “mini-sessions” at local venues (3/14, Lang Theatre)
The Sleeping Beauty — BalletNova wakes up Tchaikovsky’s classic fairytale ballet in two acts with “dazzling sets, costumes, and special effects,” and also presents 45-minute Preschool Petite performances created specifically for ballet fans ages 5 and under (All Ages: 5/2-3, Kenmore Middle School, Arlington; Preschool Petite: 5/9-10, BalletNova Center)
20th Year Gala Spectacular — A celebratory performance by company members and special guests, including Jorge Barani, Mariana Gatto-Duran, Maggie Kudirka, Sophie Miklosovic, Seyong Kim, Eun Kyung Chung, Yosvani Ramos, Sharon Wehner, and Joy Womack, followed by a recital performance by the Baltimore Ballet School (5/23, Goucher College Kraushaar Auditorium)
Baltimore Ballet at the Gordon Center for Performing Arts — Principal dancers Cem Catbas, Evgenia Singur, and Valeriia Ivlieva lead the company in a program featuring “A Gershwin Rhapsody” and “Firebird” (Date TBA)
Spring Performance — An abundant, European-inspired program offers “Insistent Music,” a new collaboration between founding Artistic Director McCauley and Turkish composer Erberk Eryilmaz among three world premieres that also include “Imago,” choreographed by McCauley, set to music composed by German/Croatian composer Nikola Glassl and played live by the composer’s grandson, Nikola Paskalov with soprano Karin Paludan (3/27-28, KenCen Terrace Theater)
Something Borrowed presented with the National Chamber Ensemble — McCauley debuts an inventive dance piece choreographed to the Respighi-Vivaldi Sonata for piano and violin (5/2, Gunston Arts Center, Arlington)
Dance for Parkinson’s Disease Master Class — McCauley leads a free class session as part of the Kennedy Center’s “ongoing commitment to dance” (5/16, KenCen REACH)
Music + Dance: Chris Rogerson — Continuing CDP’s Evening with an Artist series, acclaimed composer Rogerson discusses his career and training, and deconstructs one movement of his composition for Claudia Schreier’s choreography premiering in June’s New Works program (4/30, Media Lounge, 700 12th St. NW)
Life of a Dancer: Grace-Anne Powers — New company dancer and current BalletMet member Powers shares her life and career via photos, performance videos, and rehearsal footage (6/11, Media Lounge)
New Works — Nine dancers and fourteen musicians perform two packed programs over two weekends, featuring four world premieres choreographed, respectively, by Chamber Dance Project Founder and Artistic Director Diane Coburn Bruning, Claudia Schreier, Colin Gee, and company dancer Cooper Verona, making his choreographic debut with In the Silence set to a score by Estonian chant-master Arvo Pärt (Program A: 6/18-20; Program B: 6/27-28, Michael R. Klein Theatre)
Native Intelligence/Innate Intelligence — A two-part performance that “creates a comprehensive picture of the multiplicity of identities we all navigate,” incorporating modern dance, hula, Hawaiian chant and percussion by Patrick Makuakane, and live music by frequent collaborator, electric cellist Wytold (5/2-3, Dance Place; 5/6, Reston Center Community Center)
Summer Intensive — The company hosts a full week of technique classes, repertoire, and seminars for serious pre-professional training, culminating in a professional photoshoot and a free performance by the Intensive students (6/1-7, Dance Place)
Conservatory Dancers in Concert — Catch the next generation of performers, artists and innovators in this showcase of Conservatory students training in ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop and world dance forms (5/9, Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center)
CityDance DREAM Gala — Professional classical, contemporary, tap, ballroom and hip-hop artists from around the world unite on the Lincoln Theatre stage for a dance concert to benefit CityDance DREAM, a program that works to level the playing field for youth living in low-income District neighborhoods by providing access to free high-quality dance training, after-school programs, and wrap-around support services (5/16, Lincoln Theatre)
CityDance DREAM Annual Concert — Acclaimed dance superstars join the CityDance DREAM School for Dance students for an evening of performances (5/17, Lincoln Theatre)
Children & Youth Concert — The budding young artists of the CityDance School present a concert (5/23, Strathmore)
Second Season: Shared Graduate Dance Concert — New works featuring provocative choreography by MFA in Dance students, offering “an unguarded exploration of these diverse artists’ talents and interests” (4/3-4, Dance Theatre)
Kreativity End of Semester — The Kreativity Diversity Troupe presents their end-of-semester performance (4/10-11, Dance Theatre)
Malpaso Dance Company — Cuba’s most in-demand touring dance troupe offers an evening of modern dance works, including Ocaso, choreographed by company cofounder Osnel Delgado, Indomitable Waltz, by Los Angeles choreographer Aszure Barton, and Tabula Rasa, staged by legendary Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin (4/22, Kay Theatre)
DCX New Dances — Honorary dance fraternity Delta Chi Xi hosts this open showcase for UMD Dance students to share new and in-progress works (4/23, Dance Theatre)
NextLOOK: Sinclair Ogaga Emoghene, Pablo Regis, and Kate Spanos — Multidisciplinary artists Emoghene, Regis, and Spanos collaborate on this project, based on the traditions of Nigeria and Brazil, that explores universality and cultural specificity in shared movements and rhythms, and includes a Carnival-style parade, artist discussion, and an audience feedback session. (5/8, Joe’s Movement Emporium)
New Releases Showcase — Dance Place’s annual curated showcase features new works by Anastasia Johnson, Madeline Maxine Gorman, Madeline Cantor, Stephen Lyons II, Faryn Kelly, and 2019 New Releases Commission recipient Bre Seals (3/21)
PearsonWidrig DanceTheater — Under the direction of founders Sara Pearson and Patrik Widrig, the company premieres two solo works, and remounts the Dance Metro DC Award-winning production Take Me with You (3/28)
Heart Stück Bernie — Joined by special guests Kendra Portier, Candace Scarborough, Tariq O’Meally, and Robert Woofter, inaugural Dance Place Artist-in-Residence Sarah Beth Oppenheim/Heart Stück Bernie returns to the Dance Place stage with the world premiere of Holster Buffalo (4/4-5)
Rosy Simas Danse — New dance project Weave brings together an international gathering of Native, feminist, queer, transgender, and people of color artists, working together through the creative leadership, vision, and direction of Seneca choreographer Simas (4/25-26)
Unit Souzou — Arising from Unit Souzou Co-Director Michelle Fujii’s experience as a great-granddaughter and wife of Japanese immigrants, the company’s multi-layered taiko theatrical performance Constant State of Otherness explores “the uncomfortable state of being othered” (5/9-10)
NEXTgeneration Showcase — An uplifting recital showcasing the talent of Dance Place’s Kid on the Move students in West African, ballet, tap, hip-hop, step and more (5/16)
DanceAfrica DC 2020 — The 33rd edition of this popular festival celebrating the dance, music, and spirit of the African diaspora, featuring performances by several African dance companies, a master class series, free outdoor activities, and the festival’s African Marketplace (5/26-31)
Excessive Realness — The queer dance intensive geared towards members of the LGBTQIA community presents The SPILL, an annual queer, dance-based performance where the audience is invited “to attend with their own experiences and glamorous expressions of queerness to add to the evening” (6/8)
jumatatu m. poe & Jermone Donte Beacham — Continuing poe and Beacham’s Let ‘im Move You collection of performance and video works, their latest This Is a Formation assembles seven dancers, a DJ, and a lighting designer, who perform alongside the audience, moving together freely through the performance space (6/13-14)
Abby Z and the New Utility — Choreographer Abby Zbikowski’s latest genre-bending group work Radioactive Practice pushes its creative team beyond perceived limits, to “build a new tradition from the inner workings of established forms, including West African dance, hip-hop, modern, and basketball, among others” (6/20-21)
Project ChArma — In the new production Tides, by Project ChArma Co-Director Ama Law, “the theme of water becomes a meeting ground, a passageway, and a vehicle for the movement of the African diaspora” (7/18-19)
Xing Dance Theatre — Combining Chinese classical and modern dance, Baltimore-based XDT performs Equinox and Solstice, a journey through the after-life (7/25-26)
Crossroads by Jessica Hoversen and Mariah Lopez — An eclectic, curated performance bringing together DMV artists Full Circle Dance Company, Jessica Hoversen, Mariah Lopez, and RawArts with Artistic Director Da’Shown Rawl and his guest choreographer Mikayla McKee (4/3-4)
Memory Field: Dances of Forgetting — An evening of contemporary dance on the topic of memory, with Katie Sopoci Drake and Spacetime Dance exploring the science of memory, while Human Landscape Dance presents dances inspired by the experience of Artistic Director Malcolm Shute’s father-in-law, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease(4/17-18)
Bmore Houseful’s Annual Urban Showcase! — Pass the Peace & Dance, an annual performance showcasing the best and upcoming talent of local and national soloists, dance crews, dance companies and schools in the Urban dance community (4/19)
SOUNDINGS — New works by choreographer Nancy Havlik and guest artist Baakari Wilder (4/25)
Minus — A new work inspired by cinematic composers, Minus views dance through the lens of the abstract, producing dance that’s centered around a dark feel and look (3/28, Jack Guidone Theatre)
GMU CENTER FOR THE ARTS
4373 Mason Pond Drive
Mason Dance Company Gala Concert — The Mason Dance Company’s crowning season event features a program including Drive by Kyle Abraham, new work by Micaela Taylor, a premiere by Christopher d’Amboise, and Variation 10 by Rafael Bonachela, with the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra performing music by Benjamin Britten. (3/27-28, Concert Hall)
Mason Dance Fete — An event that raises funds for student scholarships, featuring hors d’oeuvres, student showcases, and a chance to mingle with students, faculty, and other School of Dance supporters (3/28, deLaski Performing Arts Building)
Student Involvement: Iweek Dance Competition — Mason’s international student clubs present dances from around the world in this colorful and lively competition (4/2, Concert Hall)
Spring: New Dances — A program introducing the next generation of contemporary choreographers (4/16-18, Harris Theatre)
Colorful Cultures: Rhythmaya Annual Dance Showcase — The Rhythmaya Company gathers over 250 dancers to celebrate holidays around the world through dance, song and skit, with colorful costumes and upbeat music (3/29)
Bhangra Blowout 27 — Eight teams will compete in this 27th annual national intercollegiate South Asian dance competition that features Bhangra, a high-energy style of music and dance that originates from the regions of Punjab, which lies within Northern India and Pakistan (4/4)
Lil Buck & Jon Boogz — Washington Performing Arts presents street-dance innovators Boogz and Lil Buck (So You Think You Can Dance). The pair will perform their first evening-length collaboration, Love Heals All Wounds, exploring urgent social topics like violence and incarceration, while promoting the uniting forces of diversity, inclusion, and empathy (5/1)
Manassas Ballet Theatre — Accompanied by the Manassas Ballet Theatre Orchestra, MBT presents Les Sylphides, a ballet blanc widely thought of as the first ballet to be created about mood and without a storyline, in addition to fresh, new contemporary work in a full program of both original and classic ballet (3/13-15)
Ballet Folclórico Nacional de México de Silvia Lozano — Direct from Mexico the company shares its country’s rich cultural gifts of dance, music, folklore, and costumes (3/21, Concert Hall; 3/22)
Mouse in House — Adapted from Elizabeth Spires’ book about a mouse who forms a friendship with poet Emily Dickinson, this family friendly performance also takes inspiration from Dickinson’s poems, and opens with a performance by young dancers from Go Bananas Dancing (4/25)
Sampler — The company premieres new work Going Polar in a program also featuring an excerpt from full-length work Second Glance, plus guests Next Reflex Dance Collective and new Forty+ dances choreographed, respectively, by Emily Crews and Brynna Wilder (4/25, 5/2)
New York City Ballet — Accompanied by the Kennedy Center Opera House orchestra, NYCB presents two separate programs of works by ballet legends and today’s most exciting innovators, including George Balanchine and Jerome Robbins’ stunning production of Stravinsky’s Firebird, and Merce Cunningham’s classic Summerdance, with music by Morton Feldman (3/31-4/5)
Washington Ballet: Swan Lake — True love and tragic romance set to Tchaikovsky’s incomparable score (4/9-19, Eisenhower Theater)
Pokon — Dutch dance company De Dansers storm the stage whirling, twirling, hiccuping, tumbling, and singing in this family-friendly performance for children and grownups who can’t keep still (4/24-26)
Advanced-Professional Master Class with A.I.M — Members of the Abraham In Motion company lead this participatory, advanced-professional, class for adults (4/30, Venue TBD)
Kyle Abraham’s A.I.M. — In the company’s first dedicated Kennedy Center engagement, founder Abraham represents a fresh perspective performing INDY, his first new full-length solo in nearly a decade, along with works The Quiet Dance, Meditation: A Silent Prayer, and Drive (5/1-2, Eisenhower Theater)
Unifying Uniqueness with A.I.M — Part conversation and part movement workshop led by one to two A.I.M. company members, Unifying Uniqueness investigates the ideologies surrounding uniqueness and likenesses in each individual participant (5/2, Studio F)
Scottish Ballet: The Crucible — Arthur Miller’s classic play about the Salem witch trials becomes a riveting, brand-new ballet, presented for the first time in the U.S., that makes the story as relevant today as when it was first written (5/13-17, Eisenhower Theater)
Bolshoi Ballet: Romeo & Juliet — The sole U.S. engagement of the company dancing Alexei Ratmansky’s vigorous version of the enduring tragedy of star-crossed love, set to Prokofiev’s richly cinematic score (6/2-7, Opera House)
Hiplet Ballerina Company — This select ensemble from the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center makes their first appearance at the Meyerhoff, fusing classical pointe technique with urban dance that is rooted in communities of color, fueled by inclusivity, modern movement, and Instagram-ready style (3/29)
Punking + Posing = Whacking — Presented in partnership with Bmore Houseful, Ana “Lollipop” Sanchez breaks down the formula for whacking in this workshop exploring the technique and emotions behind the fun, theatrical urban dance style (4/3, Education Center)
Step Afrika’s Drumfolk — The world-renowned company debuts their new work Drumfolk, a celebration of resistance, resilience, and reclamation, inspired by the Stono Rebellion of 1739 (6/19-21, UDC Theater of the Arts)
Swan Lake — True love and tragic romance set to Tchaikovsky’s incomparable score (4/9-19, Eisenhower Theater)
TWB Takes Center Stage Gala — TWB’s annual gala, a fun evening of cocktails, dinner, dancing, and performances by The Washington Ballet, draws inspiration from the film Center Stage, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and featured company Artistic Director Julie Kent as the principal dancer (5/8, The Anthem)
Coppélia — Choreography after Arthur Saint-Leon with additional staging and choreography by Julie Kent and Victor Barbee, set to music by Leo Delibes featuring The Washington Ballet Orchestra (5/13-17, Warner Theatre)
Hong Kong Ballet — The company performs Septime Webre’s extravagant ALICE (in wonderland), featuring sleek and chic costumes, bold sets, and a thrilling original score (6/17)
Riverdance 25th Anniversary — Featuring a mesmerizing soundtrack and completely reimagined and spectacular lighting, projection, stage, and costume designs, the renowned Irish steppers present a stirring reinvention of Irish and international dance (6/18-21, Filene Center)
In 2004, the Washington Ballet began performing The Nutcracker in an adaptation by the company's then-artistic director Septime Webre. The choreographer offered a toast to the company's home city in a new version that he set in historical Washington, circa 1882, with George Washington as the heroic nutcracker and King George III as the Rat King.
But the iconic ballet was already well established as the company's signature holiday tradition by that point. In fact, the company's founder Mary Day started that tradition in 1961 -- a full 15 years before the bicentennial launch of the Washington Ballet.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in Metro Weekly's August 25, 2022 edition. Access it in the magazine here.
A choreographer-in-residence at a visual art museum might at first seem a counterintuitive stretch, but Dana Tai Soon Burgess "felt like it immediately made sense."
In 2016, Burgess, the D.C.-based artistic director of the Dana Tai Soon Burgess Dance Company, was named the first-ever choreographer-in-residence at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. "It made sense for me...to make sure that the dancers had an opportunity to get out of the dance studio," he says.
Fall is in full swing at the Kennedy Center, with a dizzying array of events scheduled between now and the end-of-year holidays that launch us into winter. What follows is a highlights reel of the top performances on tap over the next month or so.
Right off the bat is the special one-night-only gathering in the Concert Hall this Sunday, Nov. 13, featuring a top-tier lineup of R&B/hip-hop artists -- namely, yasiin bey (fka Mos Def), Lalah Hathaway, Meshell Ndegeocello, Bilal, and Amir Sulaiman -- accompanied by the 32-piece Black Radio Orchestra to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Black Radio, the star-studded, Grammy-winning R&B album that spawned a genre-shattering series and brand for its creator Robert Glasper.
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