Metro Weekly

11 Great Things To Do This Week in DC (and Beyond)

From Sofi Tukker to Wolf Trap Opera online, here's our handpicked recommendations for your week!

Alvin ailey

Alvin Ailey Dance Theater: Robert Battle’s No Longer Silent — Photo: Paul Kolnik

Alvin Ailey All Access

Through a recently launched online initiative, the celebrated New York-based Alvin Ailey Dance Company presents a diverse range of programming, including a rotating roster of performance broadcasts showcasing works by notable African-American composers, including its namesake, who died of AIDS-related complications in 1989.

New streams are available for one week only every Thursday evening. Next up, on Aug. 27, at 7 p.m., is No Longer Silent, a large ensemble work from the company’s artistic director Robert Battle, featuring dancers, clad in all black, traveling in military rows and evoking a complex and mysterious ritual.

Originally developed more than a decade ago as part of a concert of choreography set to long-forgotten scores by Nazi-banned composers, the 33-minute work, captured on video in 2015, moves to the percussive score “Ogelala” by Erwin Schulhoff, who perished in a concentration camp in 1942. A New York Times dance critic praised No Longer Silent as “arguably Mr. Battle’s strongest piece,” one in which he “echoes the rhythmic complexity of the music in his ritualistic choreography that is reminiscent of the early works of Martha Graham and, in many moments, the theatricality of Paul Taylor, yet this dance retains its taut point of view to the end.” Visit www.alvinailey.org.

Mr. Soul! Ellis, JC White Choir

Mr. Soul!

The late Ellis Haizlip is credited as America’s first Black nighttime talk show host and a man who was “Black, political, and openly gay even before Stonewall.” The fact that you’ve probably never heard of him is what makes this new documentary all the more important. The AFI Silver is one of over 50 cinemas nationwide presenting virtual screenings of Mr. Soul!, whose many honors include winning the Best Music Documentary Award from the International Documentary Association, an Audience Award at AFI Docs, and the Finalist Prize at the Inaugural Library of Congress Lavine-Ken Burns Film Award.

Blair Underwood narrates the film, written, directed, and produced by Melissa Haizlip — Ellis’ niece — with original music from composer and musician Robert Glasper and featuring vocalist Lalah Hathaway, the daughter of Donny Hathaway. The focus is on Haizlip, a Washington native and Howard University alum who went on to become an international theater producer and the first Black producer at New York’s WNET, where he developed Soul!

The variety show, which aired on public television stations from 1968 to 1973, helped expand Black representation on national TV as well as capture the era’s Civil Rights Movement through its celebration of Black culture, art, life, and community. Al Green, Muhammad Ali, Sidney Poitier, James Baldwin, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Odetta, Mandrill, Toni Morrison, Betty Shabazz, Stokely Carmichael, and Patti Labelle are just some of the luminaries featured in rare live performances or interviews. Begins streaming on Friday, Aug. 28. Tickets are $12 for a 72-hour stream. A free talkback with Melissa Haizlip, Glasper, Underwood, and select artists featured in the film is Sunday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. Visit www.afi.com/Silver.

Target Gallery: Mahsa R. Fard: Stadium II, 2019

Target Gallery’s 2020 Emerging Artists

The contemporary exhibition space in Alexandria’s Torpedo Factory Art Center is championing up-and-coming regional artists with its third annual exhibition series. MK Bailey of D.C., Mahsa R. Fard of Baltimore, Zia Palmer of Alexandria, and Latrelle Rostant of Bowie are the four stylistically diverse female artists selected this year by a jury panel including D.C.-based artist Alexandra “Rex” Delafkaran of the Hamiltonian Gallery, and curators Jaynelle Hazard of the Greater Reston Arts Center and Amy Lokoff.

“The four selected emerging artists create work that is reflective of the current zeitgeist,” Lokoff says in the exhibition’s official note. “In our rapidly changing world, there has been a collective questioning of identity and place and how those things inform one another…. These artists use different media and unique perspectives in considering these questions.” The artists, selected from a pool of local applicants who each have less than five years of experience and have never had a solo show of their own, all received an honorarium after being accepted. The exhibition is viewable online as well as in a limited capacity in person Wednesdays through Sundays between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. On view through Sept. 13. Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 North Union St., Alexandria. Free. Call 703-838-4565 or visit www.torpedofactory.org.

Aspire House: Nestor Santa Cruz Library — Photo: Stacy Zarin Goldberg

Aspire House: McLean

A newly constructed manse in McLean has been given over to 28 regional designers and architects as a showcase of their work presented by Aspire Design and Home magazine in partnership with Artisan Builders and Harrison Design. Proceeds from ticket sales benefit the magazine’s Diversity in Design Scholarship Fund, which supports aspiring designers from underrepresented communities throughout the world, including locally through partner Marymount University.

The Designer Show House features 29 rooms each appointed by a different designer or design team, among them Design Chair Mary Douglas Drysdale, Allie Mann/Case Architects & Remodelers, Anna Maria Mannarino, George Hemphill, Jonas Carnermark, Christian Daw, Josh Hildreth, Kiyonda Powell, Nestor Santa-Cruz, Nile Johnson, Pamela Harvey, Michael Winn/Winn Design + Build, and Thomas Preston. Open for onsite tours with no more than 12 people at one time Wednesdays through Fridays between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Through Sept. 13. 952 Mackall Farms Lane in McLean. Tickets are $50. Visit www.aspireshowhouse.com/mclean.

Orpheus Project: Leia Lensing and Chanae Curtis — Photo courtesy of Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts

Wolf Trap Opera’s Untrapped Online Series

Wolf Trap Opera has reconfigured its summer programming featuring the emerging talents in its 2020 class of Studio Artists as free livestream performances. The streams in the “Untrapped Online” series started earlier this month with newly recorded performances of Love: Surrender, a two-part program with scenes from Puccini’s La bohème and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, Orpheus Project, scenes from settings of the myth of Orpheus by Gluck and Monteverdi as directed by David Paul, and the popular annual program “Aria Jukebox” where “the audience gets to choose” the selections. (Also available is this summer’s “Master Class with Denyce Graves,” the 2020 Filene Artist in Residence.)

Next month offers two additional two-part programs, Into the Woods, presented as “Part I” on Sept. 6 and “Part II” on Sept. 13 and consisting of “opera scenes that embrace Wolf Trap National Park” as seen in Falstaff, Norma, Serse, Die Walküre, Hänsel und Gretel, Rake’s Progress, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tosca, and naturally the titular Sondheim show, represented with the comedic duet, “Agony.” The Studio Spotlight series on Sept. 20 and Sept. 27 features the Studio Artists performing “familiar favorites and contemporary stories,” and includes excerpts from aforementioned classics as well as La clemenza di Tito, Così fan tutte, Billy Budd, Iolanta, Champion, Fellow Travelers, Béatrice et Bénédict, Ariodante, Iphigénie en Tauride, Die Zauberflöte “The Flying Dutchman,” and The Crucible. The company has also been dipping into its vault to present fully staged favorite productions from past seasons. Most of these performances remain available for streaming, including productions of John Musto and Mark Campbell’s Bastianello and Philip Glass & Robert Moran’s The Juniper Tree. All streams remain available until December 31, 2020. Free. Call 877-WOLFTRAP or visit www.wolftrap.org.

Sofi Tukker — Photo: Squid

Sofi Tukker

Virtually all live performance remains impracticable and unsustainable, and few are more acutely aware of this than music artists, those whose livelihood depends on touring to promote and perform original music. Which is why it’s so refreshing to see Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern acting so resolutely upbeat day in and day out. Known as the playful house-pop duo Sofi Tukker, the inseparable musicians, who championed their platonic relationship in 2017’s “Best Friend,” have been performing a daily livestream at 1 p.m. for 160 days and counting.

“If you’re not up and dancing right now, I simply do not know you,” Halpern regularly says during shows, where they’re always seen side by side taking turns spinning songs that make them smile and sway, often in sync, and each with a microphone nearby so they can interject shout-outs and ad-libs, converse, or even break out into song. All that constant contact doesn’t seem to have diminished their bond or rapport one bit. The rapport and good energy is infectious, something that’s on full display in the official music video for their “House Arrest,” made with Gorgon City. The montage of submitted footage show fans quarantined at home dancing or swaying in sync right along with Sofi Tukker — a show of support for the good vibes the duo sends out on the daily. Follow @sofitukker on Instagram or Facebook or @sofitukkerofficial on Twitch to catch the daily livestream. Visit www.sofitukker.com.

In Series: The Pleiades Project

In Series and the Pleiades Project

Shortly after the pandemic settled in, the In Series decided to go all-in with digital for its upcoming season, not merely offering previously recorded performances of older productions or using already existant, confined digital platforms. Instead, the company set about developing what it bills as a “first-of-its kind, multi-venue digital performing arts center dedicated to disseminating new, transformative works of operatic theater free of charge.”

Dubbed INvision: the Logan Operahouse Without Walls, the platform is being gradually unveiled over the next month with a soft opening, presenting the New York-based, female-focused Pleiades Project and specifically its work of taking the 24 classic Italian Songs and Arias often assigned to beginner voice students and reimagining them as devices for telling contemporary women’s stories through both music and film.

Featuring 30 female artists, ranging from singers to directors, choreographers to visual artists, the multi-season opera film project Pleiades|24 will culminate in an exclusive premiere of Season 5, focused on inventive crossovers and collaborations, on Thursday, Sept. 18, at 5 p.m., in the LIVE studio of INvision. Between now and then, the In Series will screen all the filmed mini-operas created during the first four seasons of Pleiades|24, releasing each season at midnight on its drop date, with Season 1 already up, Season 2 set for streaming starting Friday, Aug. 28, Season 3 on Sept. 4, and Season 4 on Sept. 11. Free, though season subscribers get exclusive benefits. Visit www.inseries.org for details about the offerings to come in the first fully digital season as well as the benefits for those who take out subscriptions, which start at $9.99 per month or $99 per year per individual.

Other Music — Photo: Rob Hatch Miller

Other Music

Vampire Weekend, Animal Collective, Interpol, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Rapture, Sharon Van Etten, and TV On The Radio are among the many indie-rock acts that got an important early boost in the early aughts as a result of being championed by one scrappy little independent record store in Manhattan. Filmmakers Puloma Basu and Rob Hatch-Miller interview a slew of artists, ranging from Martin Gore of Depeche Mode to JD Samson of Le Tigre to Stephin Merritt of Magnetic Fields, to help tell the story and significance of Josh Madell’s Other Music, which was forced to close in 2016 due to rent increases and changes in cultural tastes and technology.

Other Music had a limited Virtual Cinema release in April in partnership with over 200 record stores and theaters — including D.C.’s Songbyrd and Miracle Theatre, Virginia’s Mobius Records, and Maryland’s AFI Silver — all of which shared in ticket proceeds to the tune of over $25,000 total. Factory 25 has now given the documentary a wide release on digital platforms including Amazon Prime and iTunes. Visit www.othermusicdocumentary.com.

The Door: The Inn at Little Washington, A Delicious Documentary

The Inn at Little Washington: a Delicious Documentary

In this hour-long documentary, chef Patrick O’Connell is seen in pursuit of a third Michelin star as he celebrates the 40th anniversary of his famed restaurant and ornate retreat located roughly an hour outside of D.C. Originally aired in late March on PBS, directors Mira Chang, Maro Chermayeff, and Jeff Dupre chronicle the journey of O’Connell from his start running a catering company out of an abandoned gas station to today’s “campus of quirky luxury,” set in a transformed country inn.

A pioneer of refined American cooking running a world-class dining destination, the self-taught chef confronted a number of challenges before he achieved today’s fairy tale kind of success, including a decades-long feud with a fiercely conservative rural Virginia town.

Presented in association with Virginia’s Home for Public Media (VPM) and producer and chef Spike Mendelsohn, The Inn at Little Washington: A Delicious Documentary is available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video. Free for Prime members, or $2.99 for a 48-hour rental and $9.99 to buy. Visit www.amazon.com.

Outside Lands: Gorillaz — By Jamie Hewlett

Outside Lands Becomes Inside Lands for 2020

For the past 12 years, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park has served as the dramatic locale and backdrop to one of the biggest music festivals in the nation and the world, and also, as of last year, the first major music festival to offer legal cannabis for sale. Never-before-seen footage from previous editions of the festival will factor into the offerings at this year’s free, virtual version, dubbed Inside Lands.

From the past to the future: This year’s outing also serves to promote next year’s planned return to the regular three-day outing with a showcase of those already set to perform in 2021, including up-and-coming acts Kehlani, Zhu, Beach House, Brittany Howard, Sharon Van Etten, and Sofi Tukker. Inside Lands will also feature performances or interviews by more established artists, including Above & Beyond, Disclosure, Elton John, Gorillaz, Haim, J. Cole, Jack White, LCD Soundsystem, Leon Bridges, Major Lazer, and Puddles Pity Party. Japanese-American rapper and producer Lyrics Born will serve as the virtual festival’s host. Friday, Aug. 28, and Saturday, Aug. 29. Exclusively on Twitch. Free. Visit www.sfoutsidelands.com.

Peet’s Coffe

Peet’s Coffee Offers Free Delivery Via Mobile App

A Dutch immigrant to America, Alfred Peet opened Peet’s Coffee, Tea & Spices in 1966 in Berkley, California. In the decade that followed, Peet spread his gospel of gourmet coffee to the very Seattle trio who launched Starbucks — and from the get-go they credited Peet as something “like a father mentor.” One of those mentees would later leave Starbucks and buy Peet’s, setting his sights on greater expansion to fuel Americans’ increasing interest in gourmet coffee, elevated in quality and price.

Today, of course, Peet’s Coffee & Tea is part of the same international corporate family as Keurig, Krispy Kreme, Panera Bread, and Pret A Manger. Yet the trademarked “Original Craft Coffee” still has its share of devotees, fans hooked on its high-quality beans and brews — hot and especially cold — as well as its range of warm breakfast sandwiches. And to better serve those fans, particularly during the current pandemic, the brand recently launched contactless ordering and on-demand delivery, all through its mobile app.

The service is totally free for the rest of August, as Peet’s is waiving its flat delivery fee of $3.99 and flat service fee of $3.61. Naturally, each transaction earns Peetnik Rewards, including a free beverage of choice after the first purchase, points toward additional free beverages, and access to a “secret Member’s Only Menu.” Now through Aug. 31. Delivery availability varies by location, with stores operating daily between early morning to early to mid-afternoon. Visit www.peets.com.

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Doug Rule covers the arts, theater, music, food, nightlife and culture as contributing editor for Metro Weekly. Follow him on Twitter @ruleonwriting.

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