Dance, Dance, Dance
Washington Ballet: A Vampire Arrives for Halloween Septime Webre, artistic director of the Washington Ballet, decided to call the company’s 37th season “Seduction,” meaning that he hopes this season’s rich material and lengthened offerings in terms of time and number will seduce more patrons into attending TWB productions.
But in another way, it could very definitely be a major characteristic of the season’s first production, the noted choreographer Michael Pink’s production of “Dracula”, which will be done by the Washington Ballet company under the direction of Pink, who now heads the Milwaukee Ballet Company.
“It’s a very seductive production, it’s romantic and spectacular all at the same time,” Webre said in a phone interview. “We’re living in a time when vampires and all the attendant markers and history are very much a major part of our popular culture—there’s “True Blood” on HBO, there’s the “Twilight” book and film series, and all the publicity surrounding the stars, and, of course, there’s all the films, and the original novel by Bram Stoker, which comes straight out of the 19th-century romantic period, in terms of music, dance and to a degree literature.”
The production dates back to the 1990s and Webre says “I’ve wanted to have this done by the company for at least 10 years now. Finally, it’s the right time.”
“Dracula” will be the opener for what promises to be an exceptionally interesting season for the Washington Ballet, and just in time for Halloween. “Well, that certainly helps, don’t you think,” Webre said. “I just think it’s perfect material for a ballet, and it will be true to the source, as Pink emphasized. It’s not a ballet to merely showcase dancer, it’s meant to tell the story clearly and with dramatic effect. It’s very physical material, seductive, romantic, the look of it will be important ,too, and it has a powerful, dazzling pas de deux with Dracula and Jonathan Harker in the opening act.” Webre calls the season provocative and engaging, one which will include an extended two-week run for “Dracula” at the Kennedy Center, beginning Oct. 24. This year will also bring the annual production of “The Nutcracker.” Next year includes a ballet version of Ernest Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises,” part of a new initiative called “The American Experience,” arising “out of my love of both dance and literature,” according to Webre, and makes official what began with “The Great Gatsby.”
THE 4th ANNUAL VELOCITYDC DANCE FESTIVAL What started out as a popular showcasing of Washington area dance companies and artists that featured world class artists and groups has now become an institution. The fourth VelocityDC Dance Festival is back running at break-neck speed at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Sidney Harman Hall on Oct.18, 19, 20 and 21 after three years of sold-out performances.
Numerous companies and individuals will perform at the festival, which was organized by a consortium of local dance-supportive arts entities which includes presenters Washington Performing Arts Society, the Shakespesare Theatre Company and Dance/MetroDC, the region’s service organization for dance. The festival is being presented in a fast-paced gala format of movement and music, hip-hop and spoken words and through its revolutionary, cutting edge styles and artist, has made Washington DC a leader as a top dance destination nation wide.
Also returning is the Ramp!-to-Velocity series, put on 90 minutes before each evening performances, with excerpts from the work of up and coming young dancers and choreographers. Performances of the Ramp! Series will be held in the Forum, an intimate space on the lower level of the Harman. Individual artists and group performers for the three day festival include Dissonance Dance Theater, CityDance Conservatory, Word Dance Theater, the Uprooted Dance Theater, Gesel Mason, El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea de El Salvador, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, VTDance, Urban Artistry, Flamenco Aparicio and Pastora Flamenco, The Washington Ballet Studio Company, Asanga Domask, Christopher K. Morgan and Artists, Farafina Kan, slight dance theater, the American University Dance Company, the Youth Dance Ensemble, Step Afrika!, Jane Franklin Dance, Edgeworks Dance Theater, Xuejuan Feng, Sidney Skybetter, Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble, Company/E, The Washington Ballet, Farafina Kan, Rebollar Dance, Just Tap and Janaki Rangajaranm. Inquire about tickets at the Shakespeare Theatre COpany at (202) 547-1122 or at www.ShakespeareTheatre.org
OUT OF AFRICA, FROM RUSSIA Two at the Kennedy Center—Tradition meets contemporary edge in two diverse fall dance offerings at the Kennedy Center.
First, it’s “Voices of Strength: Two Programs of Contemporary Dance and Theater byWomenfrom Africa” from a collection of female African choreographers who mix “humor, irony, poignancy and power in their work. In two Terrace Theater programs, it’s “Correspondances” and “Quartiers Libres” on Oct. 4 and then “Sombra (Shadow)” and “Madame Plaza” on Oct. 5.
“Correspondances” is a duet that’s part dance, part theater and part story telling by choreographers Ketty Noel from Hait/Mali and Nelisiwe Xaba from South Africa. “Quartiers LIbres” is a solo work by Nadia Beugre from Cote d’Ivoire. In “Sombra,” Mozambique choreographer Helena Pinto explores the role of women in modern society, while “Madame Plaza” is the work of Bouchra Ouizguen from Morocco.
In a more traditional vein, the wondrous Mariinsky Ballet returns to the Kennedy Center’s Opera House Oct. 16 to 21 with a production of “Cinderella,” choreographed and staged by Alexei Ratmansky, one of ballet’s prolific and hottest choreographers.