- The Washington Times - Friday, September 3, 2004

Fall for dance lovers is a matter of wait and see. That is to say, wait and then see the embarrassment of riches coming for the winter season.

But this fall has a few highlights, too:

• Merce Cunningham Dance Company performs “Split Sides,” the latest audacious invention by the venerable but still young-in-spirit Mr. Cunningham. He set “Split Sides” to the music of Radiohead and Sigur Ros. At the Kay Theatre in the Clarice Smith Center at the University of Maryland, Sept. 8 through 10.

• The Clarice Smith Center also will present the innovative Doug Varone and Dancers in a world premiere — “Deconstructing English,” set to Bach’s “English Suites.” Oct. 29 and 31 .

• The Washington Ballet is mounting for the first time the ultimate romantic ballet, “Giselle,” Oct. 20 through 24 at the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater, as well as a new production of “The Nutcracker” Dec. 9 through 26 at the Warner Theatre.

mThe Joffrey Ballet offers its charmingly detailed version of “The Nutcracker,” conceived by the late Robert Joffrey, at the Kennedy Center Opera House Nov. 24 and Nov. 26 through 28.

• The Paul Taylor Dance Company is bringing a new, as yet untitled, work by its master choreographer, set to music by Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys, plus the exhilarating “Arden Court” and quietly eloquent “Eventide,” to the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater Dec. 16 through 18.

Meanwhile, for an eight-week period beginning in mid-January, dance-goers will have a bounty of riches spread before them: the Kirov Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, American Ballet Theatre (for two weeks), Martha Graham Dance Company, Washington Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and the New York City Ballet.

This will produce conflicts galore, especially with an appearance by the estimable Mark Morris Dance Group at George Mason University added to the mix.

Then, for more than three months — with the exception of a week of ballet and less than two of modern — dance will be absent from Kennedy Center stages until the Suzanne Farrell Ballet arrives for a week’s engagement in late June.

Possibly this clustering has been dictated by the wishes of Placido Domingo and the Washington National Opera to avoid the winter months with their hazards of snow cancellations.

The Kennedy Center has brought zest to its ballet under the leadership of Michael Kaiser. Yet whatever the reason for the crammed scheduling, it’s hardly helpful to dance companies and their audiences.

Luckily, there are other fine sponsors of dance in this city whose seasons are better spaced.

One group offering a sharp contrast to this feast-or-famine approach is Dance Place, which, year in and year out, week in and week out, presents work that’s fascinatingly diverse — classic modern dance, hip-hop and ethnic groups bringing dance from Africa and Latin and South America.

Some of the area’s most talented choreographers can be seen at Dance Place, now in its 24th season and co-directed by Carla Perlo and Deborah Riley. The intimate theater they run and the daily classes they sponsor are probably the most important factors in Washington’s having such a vibrant and multifaceted local dance scene. Look for a discussion of Dance Place’s extensive season in a future column.

Other performances of major interest this fall:

• The Dana Tai Soon Burgess company with a revival of several solos by Michio Ito, the legendary Japanese choreographer who once taught Martha Graham, followed by “Tracings,” Mr. Burgess’ haunting evocation of the Korean immigration to America. At the Lincoln Theatre, Nov. 5.

• Bangarra Dance Theatre from Australia in “Bush” — not a comment on the American political scene but an interpretation of aboriginal creation stories. At the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater Nov. 5 and 6.

• “Forbidden Christmas or the Doctor and the Patient,” a provocative fantasy of words and movement with Mikhail Baryshnikov in a central role. At the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater Nov. 10 through 14.

There’s also a range in other fall dance events to suit every taste.

Among them:

• The Kennedy Center’s daylong open-house arts festival with the Hubbard Street 2 and Washington Reflections dance groups, plus the Lakota Sioux Indian Dance Theater. Sept. 12. Free.

• Naoko, in a commissioned Kennedy Center work on the Center’s Millennium Stage, Sept. 14 and 15.

• The Puerto Rican dance group Andanza at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater Sept. 15 and 16.

• The Austrian Embassy’s “100 Years of Modern Dance in Vienna” opens with a performance by dancers from Vienna and a talk on the roots of Austrian modern dance by critic George Jackson. Free and open to the public, but reservations are needed. Opens Sept. 16. The exhibit continues through Nov. 12.

• Vladimir Angelov with a new Kennedy Center-commissioned work on the center ‘s Millennium Stage Sept. 20 and 21.

• Metro DC Dance Awards at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater Sept. 27.

• Bowen McCauley Dance, with a new work in collaboration with the guitar ensemble Tone. At the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater Oct. 13.

• “Gajamukha,” a Hindu tale that combines Indian music, dance and theater. Presented by the Washington Performing Arts Society at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium, Oct. 15.

• Jump Rhythm Jazz Project from Chicago dances to swing, blues and Latin jazz. At George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, Nov. 3.

• Virsky Ukrainian National Dance Company, a colorfully costumed folk ensemble presented by the Washington Performing Arts Society. At the Kennedy Center Concert Hall Nov. 6.

• Bale Folclorico da Bahia, celebrating its Afro-Brazilian roots. At George Mason’s Center for the Arts Nov. 6.

• Liz Lerman Dance Exchange in “Gumdrops and Funny Uncles,” an “alternative family ‘Nutcracker’ ” that includes monologues and selections from the Tchaikovsky score. At the Dance Exchange home in Takoma Park Nov. 30.

• The Spirit of Kwanzaa, an annual event with performances by the Washington Reflections and the Dance Institute of Washington’s Senior and Junior dance ensembles along with guest artists. At the Kennedy Center Concert Hall Dec. 28 and 29.

For more details about upcoming performances or to purchase tickets, contact:

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, 2700 F St. NW, 202/467-4600

Warner Theatre, 1299 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, 202/783-4000, www.ticketmaster.com

Dance Place, 3225 Eighth St. NE, 202/269-1600, www.danceplace.org

Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland at College Park, 301/405-2787

Center for the Arts at George Mason University, Fairfax, 703/993-2787

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, 7117 Maple Ave., Takoma Park, 301/270-6700

Lisner Auditorium, 730 21st St. NW, 202/994-6800, www.www.lisner.org

Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St. NW, 202/397-7328, www.thelincolntheatre.org

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