George Balanchine will be casting a long shadow on the dance season this year, leading up to the 100th anniversary of his birth. Even though the event will be celebrated worldwide and the most lavish commemoration will obviously take place in New York, his adopted home, events in Washington have a unique significance of their own.
The company he founded, the New York City Ballet, will make its first visit to Washington in almost two decades next March, bringing with it a week of the master’s programs. The Washington Ballet will dance an all-Balanchine program on his actual birth date, Jan. 20.
The fall season, however, features other companies that have a special pertinence in Mr. Balanchine’s life. From St. Petersburg, the Kirov Ballet, also known as the Maryinsky Ballet, the legendary company where Mr. Balanchine grew up, will reopen the refurbished Kennedy Center Opera House (Dec. 23 to Jan. 4) with two Tchaikovsky ballets that have shaped its style — “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake.” Mr. Balanchine danced in both while still a student at the Maryinsky School.
The ballet group led by Suzanne Farrell, Mr. Balanchine’s last and possibly greatest muse, will finish its most ambitious touring season with a week of performances at the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theatre (Dec. 2 to 7) in two programs of Balanchine works.
Program A will include “Mozartiana,” “Waltz of the Flowers” from “The Nutcracker,” “Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux” and “Serenade,” all to music of Tchaikovsky. The Farrell second program has an interesting concept: Mr. Balanchine’s exploration of male-female relationships in pas de deux he created within major ballets. Included are duets from “Apollo,” “La Sonnambula,” “La Valse,” “The Unanswered Question,” “Agon,” “Meditation,” “Don Quixote,” “Chaconne” and “Stars and Stripes.”
The dynamic art of modern dance seems to be given a minor role at the Kennedy Center this year. In contrast to other seasons, its America Dancing series is a tame concoction.
Luckily, the Mark Morris Dance Group will be back again at George Mason’s Center for the Arts (Oct. 10 to 11) bringing some of the best American dance to be seen. That program will include a new yet-to-be-named work by Mr. Morris to music of Bela Bartok’s String Quartet No. 4, “Going Away Party” to music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, and Mr. Morris’ early, ecstatic “Gloria.” Also on the program is the charming and humorous “A Spell,” with music by John Wilson. The last time “A Spell” was performed in the area it featured the hefty Mr. Morris as a droll cupid. Let’s hope he reprises the role this time.
Dance Place, Washington’s most active dance site, has a strong fall lineup. Its season launches with “Together by Ourselves” (Sept. 20 to 21), a blockbuster lineup of the women choreographers and dancers who have shaped the Washington scene.
The lively, ambitious CityDance Ensemble will appear for a two-night engagement at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater in October. Despite tight times for the arts, the company, led by Artistic Director Paul Emerson, is expanding its reach with new commissioned work and new touring venues both here and abroad.
CityDance will present world premieres by two distinguished choreographers who work closely with the company — Vladimir Angelov and Kristen O’Shee — and a third by Roger C. Jeffrey, making his choreographic debut in Washington. Mr. Jeffrey has been a member of Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project and Twyla Tharp’s company.
In addition to his premiere, Mr. Jeffrey will present a solo he choreographed for Rasta Thomas, who returns to CityDance for a second year as artist-in-residence. Mr. Emerson is also restaging his “Message, A Song of Sarajevo” for the company. Following this, the company will make its New York City debut and dance a return engagement in St. Petersburg.
Another Washington-based company forging ahead is that of Dana Tai Soon Burgess. His choreography for “The Nightingale” is scheduled for a national tour sponsored by the Kennedy Center this winter and his Moving Forward Dance Company will unveil “Family Tracings” (Terrace Theater, Nov. 6 to 7), a work commissioned by the Kennedy Center to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Korean immigration to this country.
Here is the fall season at a glance. There is a charge for events unless otherwise noted.
Sept. 8: Metro DC Dance Awards, George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium.
Sept. 11-12: Jason Hartley, leading dancer in the Washington Ballet, in original choreography commissioned by the Kennedy Center. On the Center’s Millennium Stage. Free.
Sept. 12: “SoleMates,” a dual performance by Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble and Step Afrika exploring common threads in African, Irish and Appalachian dance and tap. At the Kay Theatre in the University of Maryland’s Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.
Sept. 14-15: Laurel Gray, in a work commissioned by the Kennedy Center. On the center’s Millennium Stage. Free.
Sept. 17-18: Boris Willis Moves, the Kennedy Center’s third commission. On the center’s Millennium Stage. Free.
Sept. 27-28: El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea de El Salvador, the country’s first professional dance company. At Dance Place.
Oct. 1-5: The Washington Ballet in a world premiere pas de deux by director Septime Webre and the Washington premiere of “Firebird” by Robert Weiss, Carolina Ballet artistic director. Also on the program: Choo-San Goh’s “Momentum” and William Forsythe’s riveting “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.”
Oct. 3-4: LEVYdance, Inc., an athletic West Coast group making its East Coast debut. At Dance Place.
Oct. 9-11: Companhia de Danca Deborah Colker from Brazil in “4 por 4” as part of the America Dancing series. At the Kennedy Center’s Eisenhower Theater.
Oct. 11-12: Ninth annual Tap Festival featuring some of the most prominent hoofers in the area. The Sunday performance is free for one child accompanying a paying adult. At Dance Place.
Oct. 18-19: Joy of Motion In Concert — an evening of dance with Dana Tai Soon Burgess, CityDance Ensemble, Cross Currents Dance Company and others. At the Jack Guidone Theater in Friendship Heights.
Oct. 18-19: The Arlington-based Jane Franklin Dance in a program that explores love — between lovers, friends and through the generations. At Dance Place.
Oct. 21: Ballet Boyz presented by Washington Performing Arts Society. At Lisner Auditorium.
Oct. 25-26: Boris Willis Moves, a dynamic Washington company that combines hip-hop, contact improvisation and break dance in a postmodern style. At Dance Place. Co-presented with the Kennedy Center.
Nov. 1-2: Marty Pottenger in “Abundance.” Co-commissioned by Dance Place and an impressive consortium of presenters. At Dance Place.
Nov. 8-9: Nejla Y. Yatkin and guests in “Mosaic,” a program of new works with live music, text and video, plus a reconstruction of the late Jose Limon’s, “Chaconne.” At Dance Place.
Nov. 9: Krasnoyarsk National Dance Company of Siberia depicting life in that faraway region through music and dance. At George Mason University’s Center for the Arts.
Nov. 9: Black Burlesque (revisited) with Reggie Wilson Fist & Heel Performance Group, joined by Trinidad’s Noble Douglas Dance Company and the musical group Black Umfolosi from Zimbabwe. At University of Maryland’s Kay Theatre.
Nov. 15-16: Reggie Glass/Native Tongue Dance Collective deals with contemporary life through dance, spoken poetry and live music. At Dance Place.
Nov. 21-22: Project Bandaloop, part of the Kennedy Center’s et cetera series, dancers, climbers and riggers from Oakland, in a blend of dance, sport and ritual. In the Eisenhower Theater.
Nov. 22-23: Tiempo de Tango in a new work, “Desde la Orilla.” At Dance Place.
Dec. 6-7: The estimable Carla Perlo, founder of Dance Place, in a program for audiences of all ages. On Dec. 7 the program is free for a child accompanied by a paying adult. At Dance Place.
Dec. 12-28: The annual presentation of “The Nutcracker” by the Washington Ballet. At the Warner Theatre.
Dec. 20: The Field Laboratory with multi-disciplinary works. At Dance Place.
Tickets and information: Kennedy Center: 202/467-4600. Dance Place: 202/269-1600. Washington Performing Arts Society: 202/833-9800. George Mason University’s Center for the Arts: 703/993-2787. Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at Maryland University: 301/405-8169. George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium: 301/808-6900. Joy of Motion: 202/362-3042.