Pick of the Pack
Thanksgiving Day Swing Dance Party
Whether you need to work off the extra piece of pie or just get the relatives out of the house for a few hours, change out of your elastic-waistband pants and into your party attire for a Thanksgiving Day swing dance party. Part of the Kennedy Center's free Millennium Stage program, the party will feature music by the Tom Cunningham Orchestra, known as "the Swingin'est Band Around," playing hits from Count Basie, Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman, among others. Tom Koerner and Debra Sternberg, leading local swing dance performers and teachers who are experts in the Lindy Hop and jitterbug, will join the party to teach participants how to burn off those holiday calories through the dances of the big band era. The festivities begin with a dance lesson at 6 p.m., followed by a performance and dance party until 9 p.m. While there's no formal dress code, military attire and vintage party dresses are encouraged. Thursday at 6 p.m. at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW. 800/444-1324. Web: kennedy-center.org.
Few rock musicians are able to get just one lucky break, but Chris Cornell has found worldwide fame in three superstar rock bands as well as a successful solo career. The singer, songwriter and guitarist is most famous for fronting Soundgarden ("Black Hole Sun"), the grunge rock band founded in Seattle in 1984, though he also fronted Audioslave, a rock band with Rage Against the Machine musicians, and founded Temple of the Dog with Eddie Vedder, who himself would go on to front Pearl Jam. Mr. Cornell has also released three solo albums highlighting his celebrated voice in original songs as well as acoustic renditions of his bands' hits. He is now touring North America to perform hits from all stages of his long career, and stops at U Street's Lincoln Theatre on Saturday night. Bhi Bhiman, a Sri Lankan-American folk musician, will open the show. Saturday at the Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW. 202/888-0050. Web: thelincolndc.com.
National Hanukkah Menorah Lighting
It's time to get into the holiday spirit because Thursday is not only Thanksgiving Day, but also the first day of Hanukkah. The Jewish festival commemorates the Jews' revolt against their oppressors in the second century B.C., after which they regained the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. When the Jewish priests went to relight the temple's menorah, there was only enough oil for one night, though it miraculously lasted for eight, leading to the lighting of the menorah for eight nights during the annual holiday. Before you begin feasting on turkey and latkes, however, head to the Ellipse on Wednesday evening for the lighting of the National Hanukkah Menorah, the world's largest menorah. In addition to the lighting of the menorah, the event will also feature a performance by the U.S. Air Force Band as well as plenty of latkes and doughnuts. Tickets are required, but they are free and available at www.nationalmenorah.org. Wednesday at the Ellipse, 1600 Constitution Ave. NW. 202/332-6600. Web: nationalmenorah.org.
Thanksgiving Eve Jam featuring Familiar Faces
What's the best way to prepare for the gorge fest that begins Thursday with Thanksgiving dinner and ends with a weekend of leftovers? You can pre-emptively burn some calories by dancing to go-go music, the homegrown genre that combines funk, rhythm & blues and hip hop and gained popularity in the 1960s and '70s thanks to Chuck Brown and other local musicians. On Thanksgiving Eve, head to the Howard Theatre and celebrate the holidays with some of the city's pioneering go-go musicians. Familiar Faces, known as the "Grown and Sexy Band" of Washington, grew out of some of the earliest go-go greats, including Rare Essence ("Body Moves" and "Lock-It"), which spun off into 911 and a more mature, jazz-based sound. In 2001, the group changed its name to Familiar Faces, led by Donnell Floyd. Wednesday at the Howard Theatre, 620 T St. NW. 202/803-2899. Web: thehowardtheatre.com.
The Joffrey Ballet's The Nutcracker
Chicago's acclaimed Joffrey Ballet was the first dance company to perform at the White House, at the invitation of first lady (and arts lover) Jackie Kennedy. It's fitting, then, that the company brings its 25-year-old production of Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" to the Kennedy Center for a limited run during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. The Joffrey's version of this beloved holiday classic boasts Victorian scenery and costumes, a beautiful Sugar Plum Fairy and a heroic title character. The Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra and the Arlington Children's Chorus perform the composer's haunting score. The Joffrey has one of the most aggressive touring schedules of all dance companies in America, so catch these magnificent dancers before they leap away. Wednesday through Dec. 1 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW. 800/444-1324. Web: kennedy-center.org.