This year, February is a month to explore and enjoy dance for arts lovers in the Washington. Friday, February 1 Ron K. Brown brings his Brooklyn-based dance company Evidence back to George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium for a program that includes On Earth Together, comprised of Stevie Wonder songs. February 5 – February 10, now under the direction of Robert Battle, America’s cultural ambassador to the world, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Kennedy Center for its annual engagement featuring a combination of captivating new work and enduring classics. And not to be missed is the area debut of a new collaboration between choreographer Bill T. Jones and SITI Company’s Anne Bogart. In A Rite, these two artists have deconstructed the original score of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring to create a provocative meditation on the power of singular new works of art to alter the way we think.
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The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) is making U Street, Howard University, Shaw, and Logan Circle the focus of its free community engagement activities in January 2013. Between January 8 and 14, members of the NSO are breaking into small ensembles to perform chamber music and educational activities as requested by community organizations. The NSO has worked with approximately 20 partners in these communities, and has agreed to fulfill more than 30 activities requested by the neighborhoods. Venues include the Lincoln Theater, Florida Avenue Baptist Church, Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium, Whole Foods and Dahlak Eritrean Restaurant.
The culminating event in the will be a concert by the full NSO at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium, January 14, at 7 p.m. which will be led by NSO Music Director Christoph Eschenbach and NSO Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke. The celebrated soprano Jessye Norman, a graduate of Howard University, will perform, and the program will include the Washington premiere of George Walker’s Sinfonia No. 4, co-commissioned by the NSO. Events are free but some do require registration in advance. View the full schedule here.
October 26 and 27 over 40 great minds are coming together to help inspire attendees at the Harman Center for the Arts to unlock their own greatness and to Be Fearless. TEDxMidAtlantic 2012: BE FEARLESS will celebrate the power of ideas to positively change the world; while aiming to build community by bringing together like-minded people who believe in said mission. Speakers include Colin Powell, Jose Antonio Vargas, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski and Melody Barnes. Tickets can be purchased for either or both days of the event.
The fall 2012 arts season will bring a breath of fresh air to the Washington theater community, and also a number of works featuring African American actors. With a mixture of dramas and musicals, familiar favorites and new work, offerings that appeal to old and young, several theaters are offering five very good reasons to visit them during the first half of their season.
Ralph Ellison’s groundbreaking novel that shined a penetrating light on race in America, Invisible Man, first published in 1952, has been adapted for the stage by Oren Jacoby and opens September 5 at the Studio Theatre. The show was first mounted last season at the Court Theatre in Chicago receiving tremendous praise and attention from audiences and became the highest grossing drama in that theaters history. The Studio Theatre production is the Washington area’s premier and is being directed by Christopher McElroen, a co-founder of the Classical Theatre of Harlem.
In late September Fly, written by Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan lands on the stage of Ford’s Theater. Directed by Mr. Khan, Fly explores the lives of four Tuskegee Airmen that helped to break barriers of segregation in the United States military during World War II. Fly is the second in a series of productions being presented through the Lincoln Legacy Project, an initiative by Ford’s Theater to use the stage in fostering dialogue around the issues of tolerance, equality and acceptance.
As the holiday season approaches, the musical reigns supreme. Arena Stage makes your foot tap and soul sing with the world premier of Pullman Porter Blues, written by Cheryl L. West, who also wrote Before It Hits Home, Jar the Floor and Holiday Heart. In Pullman Porter Blues three generations of men from the Sykes family are all porters on a train heading from Chicago to New Orleans in June 1937 and the audience gets to take that ride with them on a journey through conversations about race, hope and reality, laced with 14 original and classic blues songs.
The Broadway musical that made stars out of Jennifer Holiday, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Loretta Devine and an Oscar winner of Jennifer Hudson, for her film portrayal of Effie White, Dreamgirls comes to the Signature Theatre in November. An exciting score that everyone can sing along to with characters in search of success and love that everyone can relate to, Dreamgirls is an American theater jewel that always shines.
And because theater is truly for everyone, children can’t be left out. Imagination Stage’s popular production of P.Nokio: A Hip-Hop Musical will run again from September 29 – October 18. A modern take on the tale of Pinocchio with a hip-hop twist, P. Nokio learns the power of truth. Through fun music, rhymes and dance it is an incredible lesson any kid can cheer about and it is a great introduction to the theater for young arts lovers in the making.
Nine months before President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, on April 16, 1862, he signed the Compensated Emancipation Act, granting freedom to 3,100 enslaved persons in the District of Columbia. The Compensated Emancipation Act was a significant step in ending the institution of slavery in the United States. Since 2005 the District of Columbia has commemorated this day with an official public holiday – DC Emancipation Day. To mark the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Compensated Emancipation Act a number of educational and cultural events will take place throughout the city. Signature events taking place April 11 – April 16 include a parade, film screening, special exhibitions and a “Great Debate” Saturday, April 14 at the Lincoln Theater hosted by C.B. Homes and participants including Rev. Al Sharpton and the provocative thought leader, activist and author Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. Get more details about upcoming Emancipation Day events here.