- The Washington Times - Friday, September 2, 2005

If you’re adventurous in your dance tastes, the big news for the fall season is the Kennedy Center’s ambitious Festival of China, a unique opportunity from that vast land to see a wide range of dance in a multitude of forms: opera acrobatics, ballet, folk, modern and experimental works.

If you’re a classicist, you’ll have a surfeit of oft-seen full-length 19th-century ballets, although most of them are scheduled after the first of the year.

If you treasure the lively local dance scene, you’ll be heartened by a season marked by major anniversaries of important local players.

Included are the Washington School of Ballet’s 60th season; avant-garde artist Maida Withers’ noting 40 years of provocative cerebral dances; and MacArthur Award winner Liz Lerman, nationally celebrated for her broad outreach, marking 30 years of exploring the human condition in ways both challenging and joyous. This season also marks the 25th anniversary of Dance Place, the all-embracing home of modern dance founded and directed by Carlo Perlo, and the 25th anniversary of Joy of Motion.

The monthlong China Festival gets off to a splashy start with a single night of the China National Acrobatic Troupe, followed by the National Ballet of China in two programs. The first features several works based on Chinese legends as well as an excerpt from “Giselle.” The second program is a ballet based on the hit Chinese film “Raise the Red Lantern.”

Modern dance has always embraced mavericks, and it seems that may be true even in China. Three companies will perform on a triple bill, and their works reflect a variety of attitudes. Beijing Modern Dance Company attacks “The Demise of the Nonconformist”; Hong Kong’s City Contemporary Dance Company offers “365 Ways of Doing and Undoing Orientalism”; and the country’s oldest modern dance group, Guangdong, focuses on Chinese calligraphy and invites us to “Take a Look at the Still Images of Life.”

Shanghai Song and Dance Ensemble grabs unique Chinese symbols, including martial arts, ancient chime bells and the 2,200 year-old life-sized terra-cotta warriors, and blends them into a lively choreographic whole set to a score by Oscar winner Tan Dun.

Other highlights are the puppets of the Shaanxi Folk Art Theater in a work by New York-based artist Ping Chang, commissioned by the Kennedy Center, and former New York City Ballet dancer Jacques d’Amboise leading Chinese and American students in a work he created to celebrate dance’s gift for reaching across boundaries.

Shen Wei, the much admired Chinese-born choreographer who lives and works in New York City, is coming with his company as part of both the Chinese Festival and the modern dance series. His visually ravishing pieces are a fascinating blend of contemporary technique and the Chinese opera that he performed as a child. His company will dance two works, including “The Rite of Spring” with a four-hand version of the Stravinsky score.

Closer to home, the season begins with visits from the imaginative choreographer Bebe Miller and Dance Place’s 25th-anniversary celebration with a gala featuring performances from Washington’s finest smaller companies.

Increased support for the arts is highlighted by three annual Kennedy Center commissions for local artists. Each will give two performances on the Millennium Stage. Daniel Burkholder performs “Song That Sinatra Sung,” a postmodern improvisational look at Twyla Tharp’s “Nine Sinatra Songs”; Meisha Bosma will produce “Handle With Care,” a multimedia work with photography and video projections; and Ludovic Jolivet explores “Forgotten Consciousness.”

A visit from the estimable Jose Limon Dance Company is a highlight, with two world premieres: “Unfortunate Etiquette” by Jonathan Riedel, inspired by Edward Gorey’s humorous drawings, and Lar Lubovitch’s “The Chiaroscuro Project.”

Other highlights include the Washington Ballet’s premiere of Twyla Tharp’s stylish “Nine Sinatra Songs”; Aterballeto from Italy making its local debut; and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in two programs, “As I Was Saying,” a series of three personal solos performed by Mr. Jones, and “Blind Date,” a full company work.

The last dance event before Nutcracker season rolls around again (with versions of the Christmas ballet performed by both the Washington Ballet and American Ballet Theatre) is the weeklong engagement of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. The program features the work of Maurice Bejart (with whom Miss Farrell once worked) and George Balanchine. Mr. Bejart’s striking “The Rite of Spring” and a scene from his flower-child “Romeo and Juliet” will be seen, together with Mr. Balanchine’s “Duo Concertante” and enchanting “La Source.”

CALENDAR

• Sept. 1-2 — Daniel Burkholder, Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center

• Sept. 14-16 — Bebe Miller Company, “Landing/Place,” Kay Theatre, Clarice Smith Center, University of Maryland

• Sept. 15-16 — Meisha Bosma, Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center

• Sept. 17 — Dance Place 25th Anniversary Gala

• Sept. 22-23 — Ludovic Jolivet, Millennium Stage, Kennedy Center

• Sept. 26 — Annual Metro Dance Awards, Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center

m Oct. 4-5 and 7-8 — National Ballet of China, Eisenhower Theater, Kennedy Center

• Oct. 7-9 — Chinese Modern Dance Triple Bill, Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center

• Oct. 7 — Ludovic Jolivet and dancers perform with the Baltimore Symphony at Strathmore Hall

• Oct. 14-15 — Ed Tyler’s “Sanctuary,” an original work commissioned by the Washington Performing Arts Society, at the Gala Theatre - Tivoli

• Oct. 18 — Shanghai Song and Dance Ensemble, Eisenhower Theater, Kennedy Center.

• Oct. 19 — Jacques d’Amboise leads a performance with Chinese and American students, Eisenhower Theater, Kennedy Center

• Oct. 21-22 — Shen Wei Dance Arts in “The Rite of Spring” and “Folding,” Eisenhower Theater, Kennedy Center

• Oct. 21-23 — Ping Chong’s “Cathay: Three Tales From China,” Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center

• Oct. 29 — Washington Reflections Dance Company, directed by Fabian Barnes, in a world premiere commissioned by WPAS at the Lincoln Theatre

• Nov. 2-3 — Jose Limon Dance Company, Terrace Theater, Kennedy Center

• Nov. 2-6 — Washington Ballet in “Nine Sinatra Songs,” “Carmen” and “Serenade,” Eisenhower Theater, Kennedy Center

• Nov. 5 — Aterballetto at Center for the Arts, George Mason University

• Nov. 17-19 — Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company in solos by Mr. Jones Nov. 17 and a group work Nov. 18-19, Eisenhower Theater, Kennedy Center

• Nov. 22-27 — Suzanne Farrell Ballet in works by Maurice Bejart and George Balanchine, Eisenhower Theater, Kennedy Center

• Dec. 1-24 — Washington Ballet in “The Nutcracker, Warner Theatre

• Dec. 7-11 — American Ballet Theatre in “The Nutcracker,” Opera House, Kennedy Center

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