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Kennedy Center will end season by highlighting arts of the Norse

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Nordic artists, including a percussionist who carves instruments from Norwegian glacier ice, will take over the Kennedy Center next year for a monthlong festival to cap a season of programs in 2012 and 2013, as announced Tuesday.

The Nordic Cool 2013 festival in February and March next year will include theater, music, dance, food and art exhibits to showcase the cultures of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and territories including Greenland.

Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser said the festival will present music, theater and dance that will be new to U.S. audiences. Much of the festival will explore Nordic life, nature, technology, environmental sustainability and youth culture.

"It's a region that does a lot of interesting art, but I think is not all that well-known or understood," Mr. Kaiser said. "I think we get increasingly less familiar as we go from West to East until we hit Moscow, but I think there's a lot that we don't know."

As part of a nearly $100 million slate of programs this year and next, the Kennedy Center also is planning productions in theater and opera and a jazz club performance space. It also will host special concerts celebrating "Songs of Conscience" from folk singer Woody Guthrie and reggae musician Bob Marley to showcase music that helped draw attention to issues of their day. John Mellencamp will perform in honor of Guthrie.

In theater, the center plans to stage an adaptation of Ferenc Molnar's 1910 play "The Guardsman," to be directed by Gregory Mosher. The comedy tells the story of a newlywed husband who disguises himself as a guardsman to test whether his wife would cheat on him. It has been nearly 90 years since the show debuted on Broadway.

The Kennedy Center also announced that it would host tours of the Tony Award-winning Broadway shows "The Book of Mormon," "War Horse" and "Anything Goes."

In the opera house, Washington National Opera will stage productions of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II's "Show Boat" in May 2013 and Bellini's "Norma" in March 2013. "Show Boat" is a co-production with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the San Francisco Opera and the Houston Grand Opera, and one performance of the show will be simulcast in Nationals Park.

The opera company also is scheduling a family opera of "Hansel and Gretel" during the holiday season to be performed in a smaller theater.

"I think it will be a great way to introduce children to opera," Mr. Kaiser said.

This year will mark the first season for pianist Jason Moran to lead the Kennedy Center's jazz programming. He will host an "Election Night Jam" session and a performance space with a dance floor, sofas and open seating to create a more casual vibe.

In ballet, the Kennedy Center will present Christopher Wheeldon's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and Mariinsky Ballet performing Alexei Ratmansky's "Cinderella." The center's Ballet Across America program will present ballet companies from nine U.S. cities, including the return of Dance Theatre of Harlem, which had closed as a company.

In classical music, the Kennedy Center will host a weeklong residency with star pianist Lang Lang joining the National Symphony Orchestra. He will perform three Beethoven concerts, as well as piano recitals featuring a variety of repertoire.

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