- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Law tackles Bard’s ‘Hamlet’

Hollywood heartthrob Jude Law is to star as William Shakespeare’s Hamlet in London’s West End, one of the city’s best-known theaters announced yesterday.

The 34-year-old British star of “The Talented Mr Ripley” and “The Road To Perdition” will perform in a production directed by Kenneth Branagh that is to open in mid-2009, representatives for the Donmar Warehouse said.

It is not the first time Mr. Law has trodden the boards in London. In 1999, he appeared in John Ford’s “‘Tis Pity She’s A Whore” and three years later, he was back in “Doctor Faustus” by Christopher Marlowe.

His most recent film is “Sleuth,” which also features veteran British star Michael Caine.

Last week, Mr. Law was arrested after being accused of assaulting a photographer outside his home in west London. His lawyer denied the claim.

Museum changes afoot

The Smithsonian Institution has named Kevin Gover, a member of the Pawnee tribe, director of its National Museum of the American Indian. Mr. Gover, 52, is a law professor at Arizona State University in Tempe, where he is also co-executive director of the university’s American Indian Policy Institute. From 1997 to 2000, he served as the assistant secretary for Indian Affairs in the Department of the Interior under President Bill Clinton. Mr. Gover, who succeeds the Indian museum’s founding director W. Richard West Jr., will assume his new position on Dec. 2.

Another Smithsonian museum director departs on Dec. 31. Olga M. Viso is leaving the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to be director of the newly expanded Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Ms. Viso, 41, started at the Hirshhorn in 1995 as an assistant curator and became director in 2005. A nationwide search for a new director will begin immediatelly, said Smithsonian Under-secretary Ned Rifkin, Ms. Viso’s predecessor at the Hirshhorn.

D.C.’s dance scene

Metro DC Dance Awards, the dance community’s annual celebration of itself held Monday evening at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater, was a mix of awards, speeches and what dancers do best: performances.

Awards went to Arachne Aerial Arts, Dana Tai Soon Burgess for “Images from the Embers,” Lesole Z. Maine and “Cold Case” by Helanius J. Wilkins (Mr. Wilkins won an award for the same piece last year and “Cold Case” also had another award for performance). Gesel Mason received two awards for “No Boundaries.”

In addition to prizes there were well-chosen dance performances sprinkled through the evening — a testament to the region’s diversity. Silk Road Dance Company, in gleaming, colorful costumes moved like, well, flowing silk; Joy of Motion Youth Dance Company looked fresh and lively; Edgeworks Dance Theatre did a rumination mixing words and dance on AIDS; Nejla Y. Yatkin looked like a model in a Vogue photo shoot; and Culture Shock tore up the place with sassy street dancing.

In the past, the awards were flawed, with favoritism undermining any sense of fairness. Luckily, Kristen Brogdon and other serious leaders in the dance community devised a more even-handed method to choose winners. That progress was undermined Monday when lighting designer Cheles Rhynes, who started the awards in 2000, announced he was initiating and personally bestowing a new award in his own name. While there is no quarrel with his choice, dancer Daniel Singh, going back to the old boy (or girl) network does fail the fairness test.

Lending the evening deeper resonance were the Pola Nirenska Awards to Yvonne Edwards (for lifetime achievement) and Fabian Barnes; a dance education award to Alvin Mayes; and the Alan M. Kriegsman Award to critic George Jackson for many years of thoughtful reviews, generosity in encouraging young dance writers and support of dance on a global scale. Mr. Jackson’s wit shone through in his acceptance speech as he quoted Socrates as saying art critics should be swatted like flies.

Any dance evening that has Socrates and Culture Shock’s ebullient hip-hop on the same bill has something going for it.

Compiled by Kevin Chaffee, Deborah Dietsch and Jean Battey Lewis from staff and wire reports.

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