- The Washington Times - Friday, October 2, 2009

The fall dance season begins Friday with Velocity DC, a strong new program highlighting the richness and scope of the Washington dance scene.

To attract and develop a new young audience for this burgeoning scene, tickets for Friday and Saturday are priced at $15 and include a third, funkier program that begins at 10 p.m. Saturday.

These downtown events are taking place at the dramatic Sidney Harman Hall, whose bars and lounges will be open both evenings.

This ambitious new venture is the brainchild of the Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS), out to celebrate the diversity of dance here with some of the city’s best and brightest. Its eclectic program ranges all over the landscape, from modern dance to ballet, hip-hop, flamenco and African dance.

Before the programs begin, inventive Austrian choreographer Willi Dorner will give free street performances each night titled “Bodies in Urban Spaces,” which will begin at 5:30 at the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro station. He has been working intensively with local dancers for the past few weeks, and the subject matter of his highly original work seems tailor-made for the occasion.

Dance performances over the two nights include the Washington Ballet, performing Edwaard Liang’s intriguing “Wunderland”; CityDance, previewing its splendid acquisition of Paul Taylor’s riveting “Last Look”; Ronald K. Brown and his company from New York; the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange; Edgeworks Dance Theater; Gesel Mason; and flamenco dancer Edwin Aparicio.

The late-night, adults-only third program Saturday is a cabaret-style collection of dancers, poets and musicians — the appearance by South African dancer Andile Ndlovu would alone be worth the price of admission — with a DJ from Philadelphia.

Running as a thread through the weekend is “Wallstories,” a work by the strikingly vivid dancer-choreographer Nejla Yatkin, who was born in Germany, lived recently in Washington and has settled in New York.

She will dance a brief excerpt of “Wallstories,” created for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, on Friday’s WPAS program, then perform the world premiere of her work at Dance Place at 8 p.m. Saturday and 7 p.m. Sunday, followed by a performance of “Wallstories” at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage at 6 p.m. Monday.

On the heels of all this, Pilobolus, the group that astounded 40 years ago with a fascinating new take on dance — part acrobatics, part dreamscape — makes a rare visit to Washington, appearing at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater on Saturday and Sunday.

The well-traveled, locally based Dana Tai Soon Burgess company appears at Dance Place Oct. 9 through 11.

The Washington Ballet blazes forth in the pyrotechnic “Don Quixote” at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater Oct. 14 through 18. Viengsay Valdes, a guest star from Cuba, will appear in the role of Kitri — which also will be danced by Rui Huang. The male lead will be shared by Jonathan Jordan and Jared Nelson, plus a company newcomer, Brooklyn Mack — what a stage name!

El Teatro de Danza de Contemporanea de El Salvador makes its annual appearance at Dance Place on Oct. 17 and 18.

Jane Franklin Dance in “Diving Nature” is scheduled for the Greater Reston Arts Center on Oct. 21.

Another new voice, Keigwin + Company, makes its Washington debut at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater on Oct. 22 and 23. The group arrives with a reputation for high-octane energy and a work called “Elements” inspired by the basics — water, fire, earth and air, and a grab bag full of music from Mozart to Philip Glass to Devo.

Laura Schandelmeier and Stephen Clapp perform in “The Loving Project” at Dance Place on Oct. 24 and 25.

Rounding out a marvelously vibrant dance month, CityDance, on a roll these days with superlative dancers and talented choreographers, brings a creative new program to the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater on Oct. 29 and 30.

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