- The Washington Times - Friday, June 26, 2009

The very word “summerdance” has a beckoning sound. Wherever you find it — at the Fringe Festival in downtown Washington, an antidote to steamy city streets, or on a drive to the lush greenery of Wolf Trap Farm Park for the Performing Arts - an air of laid-back pleasure is part of the picture.

You can hurry this weekend to see Riverdance. Wolf Trap’s annual dose of high-stepping Irish charm has performances at 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday and also at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Wolf Trap has not managed to keep the aura it had when Catherine Filene Shouse, who gave the park to the nation, saw to it that important dance groups including George Balanchine’s New York City Ballet and the Joffrey Ballet visited annually.

Its modest efforts this year include the Sante Fe Ballet on July 7 and the distinguished Merce Cunningham Dance Company on July 14.

A highlight is sure to be a work commissioned by Wolf Trap as part of its multimedia artistic adventure series. On Aug. 19 - one night only - Trey McIntyre is mounting an ambitious evening, “Face of America: Glacier National Park,” part of Wolf Trap’s ongoing support of works highlighting the national parks. Wolf Trap is the only national park devoted to the arts.

Mr. McIntyre is well known to Washington audiences for his many dances made for the Washington Ballet. This new work includes video projections of his dancers at Glacier park intertwining with the live ballet and music onstage to show the park’s environmental plight and celebrate its grandeur.

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The offbeat and casual summer Fringe Festival - now in its fourth year - brightens the downtown scene July 9 through 26. It includes a dozen or more dance groups appearing in such locations as the Apothecary at the Trading Post on Seventh Street Northwest and the Mountain at Mount Vernon Place, Ninth Street and Massachusetts Avenue Northwest. Some performances are free; others have a modest charge.

Events include Old Lore Theater, last year’s pick as best dance show, bringing storytelling and live music to Edgar Allan Poe’s tale of “Annabel Lee.” Other highlights on the schedule are “The Love Story of Radha and Krishna,” told by Odissi Indian classical dance; Cynthia Word’s reincarnation of legendary dancer Isadora Duncan; and a surreal world created by choreographers Nancy Havlik and Chris Dohse that somehow includes a Tibetan mountain pilgrimage, “Alice in Wonderland” and the American Red Cross, all set to original music performed live.

Two art museums have provided both setting and inspiration for a couple of Fringe’s groups:

• Paintings in the Phillips Collection exhibition “Paint Made Flesh” prompted Kelly Mayfield, artistic director of Contradiction Dance, to create a work in which dance and pop culture meet.

• “Tour Starts Here,” Liz Lerman’s fresh look at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, transforms the building with her unique interpretation of the guided tour and a double-take view of a Washington landmark.

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There’s more dance to enjoy with the Kennedy Center’s summer runs: “The Color Purple,” starring Fantasia, is in the Opera House Tuesday through Aug. 9, and “Spring Awakening,” with Bill T. Jones’ choreography, is in the Eisenhower Theater July 7 through Aug. 2.

Amid all these summer treats, Dance Place continues to be a year-round mecca for Washington-area dance lovers. On Saturday and Sunday, Cassie Meador of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange will perform with the company her dance “Drift,” commissioned by the Kennedy Center.

Here’s the rest of Dance Place’s summer schedule:

July 10-11, Hip Hop Theater Festival

July 18-19, annual adjudicated showcase of new works

July 25-26, Sankofa Dance Theater, a West African dance company based in Baltimore

Aug. 1-2, Gravity Optional, exploring the aspects of human interaction

Aug. 8-9, Kim Gibilisco, presenting his new “Relationships”

Aug. 13-14, Summer Camp Show, the finale of Dance Place’s seven-week session attended by children ages 7 to 16, with environmentally friendly green themes set to the words of Dr. Seuss

Aug. 29-30, the sixth Dance DC Festival, presented by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities

For specifics on the groups, performances, times, locations and admission charge, if any, visit:

• www.capitalfringe.org

• www.danceplace.org (click on “performances”)

• www.wolftrap.org

• www.kennedycenter.org

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