- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 8, 2007

The new season carries with it a heady prospect of familiar delights and intriguing novelties. The dance season is already upon us and off to a fast start.

CityDance has forged a promising new partnership with the Shakespeare Company’s Lansburgh Theatre, opening there last night and performing again tonight with a program called “Born to Run.” That’s the title of a new dance by director Paul Gordon Emerson set to Bruce Springsteen’s music. Also featured is a gem from the 1930s — Jane Dudley’s vivid “Harmonica Breakdown” — and a solo danced by Rasta Thomas, the international star who will be artist in residence with CityDance this year.

Parenthetically, “The Art of the Solo,” a striking look at early modern dance solos by such iconic figures as Isadora Duncan, Loie Fuller and Mary Wigman will be shown at the Baltimore Museum of Art Sept. 29.

CityDance helps inaugurate the Harman Center with “Jungle Books,” a show designed for a young crowd at the holiday season, accompanied by live music, on the weekends of Dec. 8-9 and 15-16.

CityDance will also be performing in its plush black box studio at the Music Center at Strathmore Oct. 27-28, with a program that includes Doug Varone’s haunting “Eclipse.” The company seems ready to meet the challenge of its expanded season with an especially strong contingent of male dancers.

The quality, quantity and increasing vibrancy of dance performances have helped transform the city’s artistic life. A nod is due to Dance Place, home and supporter of many of the area’s finest dancers and choreographers. This year-round venue for dance, entering its 27th year with a gala fundraiser next week, will be the subject of a future report.

With the Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater closed for renovations this season, the Washington Ballet doesn’t begin major performances until November, when it concentrates on its family-audience series with “Where the Wild Things Are,” a happy

collaboration between director-choreographer Septime Webre and popular author-illustrator, Maurice Sendak, preceded by selections from Trey McIntyre’s Beatles ballet, “A Day in the Life,” at the Warner The

Although it boasts a busy winter-spring season, the Washington Ballet’s only other appearance this fall will be its version of “The Nutcracker,” with George Washington and cherry trees giving it some local color, at the Warner Theatre Dec. 6-23.

The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, headed by the renowned ballerina, and sponsored by the Kennedy Center, is an increasingly prominent part of our local performing arts scene. Earlier this week, Miss Farrell presented a recently discovered tape of the first performance of George Balanchine‘s full-length “Don Quixote,” with the choreographer making a rare, poignant appearance as the Don. The restored film is understandably of poor quality, but it is a priceless artifact. Playing Dulcinea, Miss Farrell, 19 at the time, gives a breathtakingly fresh performance of an extraordinarily difficult role; the whole ballet captures Mr. Balanchine’s company during its glory days.

A special opportunity to see the Farrell Ballet in excerpts from the company’s repertoire, including the erotic “Bugaku” and luminous “Chaconne,” can be seen at free performances this afternoon at 3:30, 4:30 and 5:30 in the Kennedy Center’s Family Theater, part of the center’s annual open house festivities.

The Farrell Ballet returns to the opera house at Thanksgiving, dancing those two ballets in full in addition to other Balanchine works, Nov. 20-21 and 23-25.

Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company leads off the Kennedy Center’s Contemporary Series with a world premiere of “Chino Latino,” a continuation of the founder’s interest in diasporas. Other works on the program: “Mandala,” inspired by a visit to Pakistan, and “Tracings,” about his family’s extended journey from Korea to the U.S., at the Terrace Theater, Oct. 12-13.

Three of the city’s leading black companies — Step Afrika!, Coyaba Dance Theatre and Washington Reflections Dance Company come together in a program that ranges from pounding rhythms to contemporary ballet, co-presented by Dance Place and the Washington Performing Arts Society at the Lansburgh Theatre, Nov. 30-Dec. 1.

A few of Washington’s best and brightest are appearing only tangentially this year as they pursue a global career. Maida Withers, who has been a leader in groundbreaking dance here for decades, led an 18-day tour to Russia in the spring with 14 international artists from here and Russia performing her “Thresholds Crossed” in Moscow and Siberia. She and her Dance Construction Company appear in an “expect the unexpected” improv at Warehouse Art Galleries Sept. 15 at 3 p.m. Nejla Yatkin, a striking dancer and bold choreographer, will perform in France, Scotland, El Salvador and Mexico this fall, and in a show of solos by three women at the Greenberg Theatre here Nov. 12.

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, based here but national in scope, will dance Miss Lerman’s theatrically impressive “Ferocious Beauty: Genome” in Ontario, Canada, this month. The company will present “Gumdrops and the Funny Uncle” at Round House Theatre in Silver Spring Dec. 5-9.

This is a good season for looking at ways other people dance.

Margaret Jenkins & Company Margaret Jenkins Dance Company explores ritual using dancers from India, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, Sept. 20-22; Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, George Mason University Center for the Arts, Oct. 6-7; Tango Encoded Episodes from Argentina at Lisner Auditorium, Oct. 12-13; The Khymer Arts Ensemble’s 32 dancers perform “Pamina Devi: A Cambodian Magic Flute,” at Clarice Smith Center at the University of Maryland, Oct. 25-26; Festival of Indian Dance Daniel Singh Dance Company at Lincoln Theater, Oct. 26-28; Go Buenos Aires at George Mason, Oct. 27-28; “Palladian Nights,” with Ballet Hispanico and the Aro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, Kennedy Center, Nov, 5; Shaolin Warriors, Lisner Auditorium, Nov. 9-10; Georgian State Dance Company, George Mason, Nov. 17-18; Worldbeats at the Clarice Smith center, tap dance flavored by the rhythms of Spain and Algeria, Nov. 29- Dec. 2.

To round out the holidays American Ballet Theatre returns with “The Nutcracker” at the Kennedy Center Opera House Dec. 18-23, Cq and Michelle Lees’ charming version of the ballet for young children, danced by the Maryland Youth Ballet, can be seen at Montgomery College Parilla Performing Arts Center at various December dates.

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