- The Washington Times - Friday, September 8, 2006

With the bulk of Kennedy Center programming concentrated heavily in January and February of next year, the focus this fall is on the expanding local dance scene.

Two major events mark the closing of an era and the growing strength of an emerging group.

A memorial tribute takes place on Oct. 30 celebrating of the life of Mary Day, who died in July. Through her teaching, coaching and founding of the Washington School of Ballet and the Washington Ballet, she was a dominant personality on the dance scene for more than 50 years. Major dance figures including Kevin McKenzie, Amanda McKerrow and Virginia Johnson will deliver tributes at the Kennedy Center Opera House.

A second event of importance is the unveiling of the gleaming modern building for Fabian Barnes’ Dance Institute of Washington on Nov. 2, followed by a performance the next evening of DIW’s Reflections Dance Company at Gala Hispanic Theater.

Other Washington groups are building strong followings locally and even internationally. In addition to Liz Lerman Dance Exchange’s 30th anniversary retrospective at the Clarice Smith Center at the University of Maryland Nov. 2-3, they include Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company in “Images from the Embers” at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts Oct. 25, and Nejla Y. Yatkin in a solo program to Bach Cello Suites at Dance Place Nov. 18-19.

Dance Place continues to present the finest Washington dance groups, including Gesel Mason in “No Boundaries,” a program reflecting the diversity of black choreographers Oct. 21-22; Alvin Mayes’ “La Familia,” a celebration of family involving performances by a range of local companies Oct. 28-29; and Step Afrika, combining the intricate rhythms originating in African-American fraternities with video and an electronic score Nov. 11-12.

A remarkable festival this season, “Beyond the Waltz,” appears under the auspices of the Austrian Embassy. It features the work of Austrian choreographers as well as Miss Yatkin and Mr. Burgess, plus Austrian film and artworks at local venues including the Austrian Embassy, Oct. 31 through Nov. 8. It’s a great way to have a concentrated look at another country’s culture,a concept other embassies here might well emulate.

The Washington Ballet begins its season with an unusally interesting program, dancing its first Jerome Robbins ballet, the moonstruck “In the Night” to the music of Chopin, and Twyla Tharp’s grandly aerobic “In the Upper Room.” A work by artistic director Septime Webre completes the program.

The Kennedy Center is bringing two companies with African roots: Koffi Koko and Ismael Ivo in “Saint Genet l’Africain,” inspired by Jean Genet’s provocative play “The Maids” Oct. 31-Nov. 1, and Compagnie TcheTche, looking at the state of contemporary African women in “Dimi” Nov. 3-4. Both are at the Terrace Theater.

Other major companies visiting this fall include the Joffrey Ballet in “The Nutcracker,” at the Kennedy Center Opera House on Nov. 22, 24, 25 and 26. The Washington Ballet follows with its “Nutcracker” at the Warner Theater, Dec. 7-23.

The increasingly accomplished Ronald K. Brown and his company, Evidence, appear in a tribute to singer Billie Holiday at the Kennedy Center Dec. 7 and in mixed repertoire programs Dec. 8-9.

The last major event of the year is worth waiting for: an appearance at the Kennedy Center by the brilliant Paul Taylor Dance Company Dec. 15-16.

A list of other dance programs follows. For further information and to learn times and prices in detail, consult the phone numbers and Web sites listed at the end.

• Sept. 14-15 The Jose Limon Dance Company performs his masterwork, “The Moor’s Pavane,” at the Clarice Smith Center

• Sept. 14-15 The Kennedy Center’s Local Dance Commissioning Project features Kathak dancer Asha Vattikuti, Millennium Stage

• Sept. 16 Benefit Concert and Party, Dance Place

• Sept. 18 2006 Metro DC dance awards, Kennedy Center Terrace Theater

• Sept. 28-29 Big Dance Theatre features Japanese stories and Okinawan pop music, Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda

• Sept. 29-Oct. 1 Dance D.C. Festival, including a free evening performance at Dance Place on Sept. 30

• Oct. 6 Drummers and dancers of Burundi, George Mason University Center for the Arts

• Oct. 6 Tommy the Clown in a program featuring krumping, Strathmore Music Center

• Oct. 7-8 El Teatro de Danza Contempororanea de El Salvador, Dance Place

• Oct. 13 Kathy Harty Gray’s preview performance of “Stories: Virginia Women,” Northern Virginia Community College’s Tyler Auditorium

• Oct. 25 Pilobolus, presented by the Washington Performing Arts Society, Warner Theater

• Oct. 28 Tania Perez-Salas and her group from Mexico, George Mason

• Nov. 4-5 Sharna Fabiano Tango, Dance Place

• Dec. 2-3 Farafina Kan, celebrating African culture before traveling to Guineau West Africa to perform and study, Dance Place

• Dec. 9-10 Carla & Company, with Dance Place’s director Carla Perlo and guest artists Jessica Marchant and Amanda Gill, in “Small Phrases with Big Meaning,” a memorial to Miss Perlo’s father, Dance Place

• Dec. 16-17 Kwanzaa Celebration with Coyaba Dance Theater, Dance Place

• Dec. 26-29 Kwanzaa Celebration by Dance Institute of Washington at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall

LOCATIONS:

• Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, 301/405-ARTS, www.claricesmithcenter.umd.edu

• Dance Place: 3225 8th St. NE, 202/269-1600, www.danceplace.org

• George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax, Va., 888/945-2468, www.gmu.edu/cfa

• Kennedy Center: 2700 F St. NW, 202/467-4600, www.kennedy-center.org

• Northern Virginia Community College?s Tyler Auditorium, 4001 Wakefield Chapel Road, Annandale, Va.

• Strathmore Music Center: 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda, Md., 301/581-5200, www.strathmore.org

• Washington Ballet: 202/362-1683, www.washingtonballet.org

• Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS): 202/833-9800, www.wpas.org

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