- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 16, 2000


The Washington dance scene has begun at full throttle. We are plunged into an extraordinarily dynamic fall season with performances continuing this weekend of the ambitious Balanchine Celebration at the Kennedy Center and a stellar gathering of some of the most distinguished local companies at Dance Place to mark its 20th anniversary.
Still ahead this autumn are visits by many of the finest dance groups in the country: the David Parsons, Twyla Tharp, Paul Taylor and Mark Morris companies; Pilobolus; Mikhail Baryshnikov's White Oak Dance Project; and a week of American Ballet Theatre dancing "The Nutcracker" in December.
Those are just the visitors. Closer to home, the Washington Ballet is mounting "The Jazz/Blues" Project, with commissioned ballets by four talented and young, or youngish, choreographers. The Kennedy Center has commissioned for the company a ballet by former Paul Taylor dancer Lila York.
New works also come from Trey McIntyre, Val Caniparoli and the company's artistic director, Septime Webre, who is creating a pas de deux for the company's principal guest artists, Amanda McKerrow and John Gardner.
The program runs at the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater from Oct. 11 to 15. The Howard University Jazz Ensemble will be playing for some of these new works.
Back to the embarrassment of riches going on here this weekend. It is not too late to catch the Balanchine festival's program today — a matinee and evening performance — and tomorrow's matinee, with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet dancing the choreographer's beautiful "Divertimento No. 15" and the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago doing the "Tarantella Pas de Deux." The Miami City Ballet, directed by Edward Villella, will perform two stunning works — "Agon" and "The Four Temperaments."
The Kennedy Center's Balanchine Celebration, one of the most exciting projects it has ever mounted, continues through next weekend with the San Francisco Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet performing.
The Balanchine ballets scheduled for the first half of next week are "Serenade," danced by the Pennsylvania group, and "Bugaku" and the magnificent "Symphony in C," set to the Georges Bizet score, performed by the San Francisco Ballet.
The celebration concludes next weekend with the San Francisco Ballet in two of the choreographer's boldest works, "Symphony in 3 Movements" and "Prodigal Son," and the Pennsylvania Ballet in "Western Symphony."
There is also time to catch part of Dance Place's rousing 20th anniversary gala.
The program at 8 tonight includes performances by director Carla Perlo and the Dance Place Moving Company, Emily Crews, Jane Franklin Dance, Sylvia Soumah, Coyaba Dance Theater and Tappers With Attitude, followed by a dance party with music by the Sam Turner Ensemble.
The concluding performance, at 7 p.m. tomorrow, will include works by Cathy Paine, Douglas Yeuell, Jan Van Dyke, Juan Carlos Rincones, D.C. Dance Theater, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Maida Withers, Melvin Deal, African Heritage Dancers and Drummers, and Meriam Rosen. Dance Place is at 3225 Eighth St. NE.
A strong trio of modern dance companies makes up the Kennedy Center's other major fall series. (The series was to have included a fourth group, the esteemed Martha Graham Company, but an ugly battle is being fought over the group's future and the rights to Miss Graham's works.)
The modern dance series as it stands celebrates a living hero — Paul Taylor, a giant in the field, who celebrated his 70th birthday this summer. Mr. Taylor and two of his company's alumni are part of this intriguing series.
The indomitable Twyla Tharp, who has been busy creating blockbuster ballets for New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theatre this past season, is back with a new company, some new dancers and a newly commissioned work, which is a collaboration with jazz composer Donald Knaack. Her group will be at the Eisenhower Theater Sept. 29 through Oct. 1.
Right on its heels comes the Parsons Dance Company, on Oct. 3 and 4, at the Eisenhower. David Parsons, a major dancer with the Taylor company in the 1980s, has been making high-energy, audience-pleasing dances with his own group for the past 13 years. Mr. Parsons will be performing his riveting solo, "Caught."
The series concludes with the Paul Taylor Dance Company in a program that offers ample proof that Mr. Taylor is still at the top of his form. Two works created this year are scheduled: "Arabesque" and "Fiends Angelical," which had its premiere this summer at Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in Massachusetts' Berkshire Hills. It revealed itself to be one of Mr. Taylor's more provocative, gritty dances and matches the harsh intensity of its George Crumb score with a searingly intense ritual.
The program also includes Mr. Taylor's monumental "Musical Offering" to the Bach score. (The work figured prominently in "Dancemaker," the Academy Award-nominated documentary on the dancer and his company.) The Taylor group will be at the Eisenhower for four performances Oct. 6 through 8.
After this early-in-the-season whirlwind, the Kennedy Center will offer two dance programs for the rest of 2000.
Pilobolus Dance Theatre will be at the Eisenhower Theater from Nov. 30 through Dec. 3 with a program that includes the premiere of a Kennedy Center-commissioned work, "Klezmer," to be performed to music by the Klezmatics.
American Ballet Theatre will be bringing a revised production of Artistic Director Kevin McKenzie's "The Nutcracker" for a holiday appearance at the Kennedy Center Opera House from Dec. 12 through 17.
The pickings may be slim in late fall at the center, but plenty of other promising dance events will be going on around town.
The Washington Performing Arts Society, which has been bringing important dance to the city longer than anyone else, has scored a coup by booking Mikhail Baryshnikov's new program into George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium on Nov. 10 and 11.
The ballet superstar-turned-modern dancer (who will be back in Washington on Dec. 3 to receive the Kennedy Center Honors Award) has been presenting small-scale modern dances with his White Oak Dance Project for the past 10 years. Some are masterpieces by the likes of Mr. Morris — with whom he founded White Oak — Miss Graham, Mr. Taylor and Merce Cunningham. Others are sturdily experimental.
Mr. Baryshnikov's latest program, being danced here, is a celebration of the influential, groundbreaking works that came out of the "Events" taking place at Judson Church in lower Manhattan in the 1960s.
George Mason University continues to bring great dance programs to its Center for the Arts in Fairfax. A highlight of its fall schedule is a return of the Mark Morris Dance Group on Oct. 20 and 21. The evening will feature "Sang Froid," a new Morris work to the music of Chopin; "Pecadillos," which had its premiere at Mr. Baryshnikov's White Oak recently; "My Party"; "Silhouettes"; and "Deck of Cards," a witty work for two dancers and a remote-control toy truck.
Does the world need another Dracula ballet? We'll find out Nov. 17 and 18 at George Mason when the Royal Winnipeg Ballet brings its version, choreographed by Mark Godden to music by Gustav Mahler.
Other dance events at George Mason are Bale Folclorico da Bahia from Brazil Oct. 15 and the Whirling Dervishes of Turkey on Nov. 4.
Dance Place continues to bring some of the best local, international and experimental dance groups to its intimate theater. After this weekend, its 20th year continues with Italian choreographer Elizabetta Vittoni in a world premiere solo, "Silent Block," on Sept. 23 and 24. Miki Lizst, a dancer from Iran, unveils "Under the Veil" Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.
October events include Teatro de Danza Contemporanea de El Salvador on Oct. 7 and 8; Buck and Wing-2000 with Taps and Company, Oct. 14 and 15; "Darkcorners II: Standing in the Light," a multidisciplinary work, Oct. 20 and 21; the Jo Ha Kyu Performance Group in a program of contemporary dance and Japanese Bugaku, or ancient court dancing, Oct. 28 and 29.
The pace continues in November with the Initiale/Bruno Genty Company, a Paris-based group, in a multimedia work about Vienna in the early 19th century, Nov. 4 and 5; Dana Tai Soon Burgess and Company in a program of new repertory, Nov. 11 and 12; and two other local dance companies, Jane Franklin Dance and Nancy Havlik Performance Group, both offering premieres, Nov. 18 and 19.
Peter DiMuro, in association with Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, will be at Dance Place on Dec. 2 and 3 in "Significant Others: Dances for Family Friends and Lovers"; Carla & Company with the Dance Place Moving Company (that's Carla Perlo, founder of Dance Place) Dec. 9 and 10; and "Fieldwork Showing" of multidisciplinary works by regional artists Dec. 17.
To conclude the season, the Washington Ballet will be back at the Warner Theatre Dec. 8 through 24 in "The Nutcracker," originally created for the company by its founder, Mary Day. The Maryland Youth Ballet will perform "The Nutcracker" Dec. 22 through 30 at the Robert E. Parilla Performing Arts Center on the Rockville campus of Montgomery College.


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