The Kennedy Center Announces 2018-2019 Ballet and Contemporary Dance Season

The Kennedy Center Announces 2018-2019 Ballet and Contemporary Dance Season

Exploration through world culture, original voices, and iconic masters are on display throughout the 2018-2019 ballet and contemporary dance season at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The upcoming ballet and dance season-among the nation's most robust and eclectic-features a breadth of dynamic and world-class choreography performed by today's preeminent companies. Brought to life onstage by virtuosic dancers and visionary designers, the season encompasses compelling and thought-provoking works, collaborations across genres, and quintessential classics steeped in tradition.

Highlights within the ballet season include San Francisco Ballet in two repertory programs, all D.C. premieres, from the company's unprecedented Unbound: A Festival of Works; the return of National Ballet of China with its acclaimed Raise the Red Lantern; the D.C. premiere of Alexei Ratmansky's all-new, evening-lengthHarlequinade; and Mariinsky Ballet's classical virtuosity in Le Corsaire. Additionally, New York City Ballet brings two stellar repertory programs of esteemed classics, new works and productions including a Robbins' tribute Something to Dance About, directed by Tony Award®-winner Warren Carlyle.

Significant and relevant works from choreographers on the contemporary dance season share impactful messages on family, migration, environment, and life. Deborah Colker brings her powerful first work entirely based on a Brazilian theme,Dog without Feathers (Cão Sem Plumas), which combines dance and film to explore the ways in which the mud, poverty, and mangroves of the Capibaribe River region shape the people that reside and rely on the river for life. Distinguished bharatanatyam interpreter Malavika Sarukkai's Thari - The Loom traces the history and legacy of the handwoven Indian "unstitched garment," the sari. Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company's poignant The Analogy Trilogy features three separate evening-length works inspired by the writings of W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants. In its fourth season, DEMO, Damian Woetzel's acclaimed series uniting artists from different genres to explore a common theme, brings two programs in the Terrace Theater. And returning favorite, the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, will present repertory programs to include a mix of exhilarating premieres and new productions.

This season also features the return of the Kennedy Center's acclaimed Ballet Across America series, May 28-June 2, 2019. Illustrating the dynamic variety of artistry happening in American companies today, the weeklong celebration of the art form has showcased more than 25 companies and nearly 40 repertory works from across the nation since its debut in 2008. Most recently, 2017's engagement of the series included world premiere Kennedy Center commissions from filmmaker Ezra Hurwitz and choreographer Jeremy McQueen. Participating companies and full programs will be announced at a later date.

The annual Local Dance Commissioning Project, which supports and fosters new dance works by local artists, enters its 18th year with works by this year's recipients: Anuradha Nehru and Chitra Kalyandurg of Kalanidhi Dance, Diana Movius, and Erica Rae Smith-Gooden.

The 2018-2019 Kennedy Center Ballet and Contemporary Dance Season


September/October 2018

Three World Premieres

September 28 & 29, 2018: Anuradha Nehru and Chitra Kalyandurg of

Kalanidhi Dance

October 5 & 6, 2018: Erica Rae Smith-Gooden

October 13 &14, 2018: Diana Movius

Locally based choreographers Anuradha Nehru and Chitra Kalyandurg of Kalanidhi Dance, Diana Movius, and Erica Rae Smith-Gooden will each present a new work on the Millennium Stage as part of the 18th annual Local Dance Commissioning Project (LDCP). Created to foster new dance works by D.C. metro-area artists and present these artists to the widest possible audience via the Millennium Stage, the project provides funds for each artist to create a new work and a venue to premiere it in, as well as rehearsal space, artistic mentorship, and technical assistance. Further details about each work are below.

Based in the traditional Indian dance form kuchipudi and inspired by Hindu mythology, Anuradha Nehru and Chitra Kalyandurg's work Bhoomi (Earth) presents a different perspective of how humankind affects the Earth and how the physical environment we shape will, in turn, shape our lives. With inspiration from Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, Diana Movius's multimedia work Rite of Spring, Crash of Fall probes the fall of Wall Street during the 2008 financial crisis, the nature of accountability, and its impact on society. Utilizing modern-fusion and Caribbean folk music and led by a live DJ, Erica Rae Smith-Gooden's Out of Many: I Dare You To Find Your Connection is a work that celebrates the legacy and vitality of the dancehall movement. A call and response section of the performance will invite the audience to connect with the movement and experience.


October 18-20, 2018

D.C. Premiere, Dog without Feathers (Cão Sem Plumas)

Inspired by João Cabral de Melo Neto's poem of the same title, Brazilian choreographer Deborah Colker and her company, last seen at the Kennedy Center in 2010, return with Dog without Feathers (Cão Sem Plumas). Incorporating dance, ballet, and film, Colker's latest work vividly brings Cabral's poetry to life through her interpretation of the beautiful, yet impoverished Capibaribe River region in Brazil. As part of the choreographic process, the company undertook a three-week creative and cultural exploration in this harsh region to understand the current and day-to-day rhythms of the people that reside and rely on the river for life. The work also examines the region's manguebeat movement, a unique rhythm that has emerged from the reaction to the cultural and economic stagnation of the area. This work is part of The Human Journey, the Kennedy Center's season-long investigation of who we are as a people that examines art and creativity through the lenses of migration, environment, discovery, identity, citizenship, and legacy.

DEMO by Damian Woetzel: Gathering, Terrace Theater

October 29, 2018

D.C. Premieres

Entering the fourth season of his critically acclaimed series, the former New York City Ballet Principal dancer turned director, choreographer, and producer-and incoming President of The Juilliard School-will once again curate and host DEMO. Uniting artists from across art forms to explore common themes, Woetzel's latest installment brings together a 21st-century gathering of musicians, dancers, and poets in the intimate Terrace Theater. Further programming and artists will be announced at a later date.


October 23-28, 2018

Two Repertory Programs

D.C. Premieres, Repertory to be announced

with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra

Last here on the Opera House stage in 2016 with Christopher Wheeldon's opulentCinderella, the world-renowned company known for its robust repertoire returns with two repertory programs of all D.C. premieres selected from Unbound: A Festival of New Works. Taking place April-May 2018 in San Francisco, the unprecedented festival includes 12 world premieres by some of the most innovative international choreographers today, including David Dawson, Alonzo King, Edwaard Liang, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Cathy Marston, Trey McIntyre, Justin Peck, Arthur Pita, Dwight Rhoden, Myles Thatcher, Stanton Welch, and Christopher Wheeldon.Repertory selections for the Kennedy Center engagement will be announced at a later date.


November 2 & 3, 2018

D.C. Premiere, Written in Water (ElSaffar/R. and A. Ramaswamy)

Acclaimed as one of the Indian diaspora's leading bharatanatyam ensembles, Ragamala Dance Company returns to the Kennedy Center with Written in Water. Last seen at the 2011 maximum INDIA Festival, Artistic Directors Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy take inspiration from the Indian board game Paramapadam-a 2nd century precursor to Snakes and Ladders-and the rich 12th-century Sufi poem, The Conference of the Birds. A large-scale multi-disciplinary work with dance, music, text, and painting, Written in Water is an allegory for humanity's ongoing search for transcendence. Original music by Iraqi American jazz artist Amir ElSaffar and Carnatic composer Prema Ramamurthy is performed live by ElSaffar and an ensemble. Written in Water features digital projections of paintings by Chennai-based artist Keshav projected onto the stage to create a mythic, mystical dance landscape.


November 9 & 10, 2018

D.C. Premiere, Thari - The Loom (Chandrasekhar and Prakash/Sarukkai)

Malavika Sarukkai's newest ensemble production, Thari - The Loom, is inspired by the sari, the hand-woven "unstitched garment" from India. The distinguished bharatanatyam interpreter's choreography explores the fundamental concepts that are shared between two seemingly different but essentially connected disciplines of dance and weaving: space, structure, motif, symmetry proportion, relationship, and alignment. Through inventive dance design and specially commissioned music by C.V. Chandrasekhar and Aditya Prakash the sari assumes mythic and philosophical dimensions, whilst becoming a metaphor for life itself. The work extends the language of classical Indian dance and is a confluence of traditional practice informed by contemporary sensibilities. The Center's Explore the Arts program will also host a film screening of Sumantra Ghosal's The Unseen Sequence in the Kennedy Center Terrace Gallery (time to be announced). Ghosal, a collaborator for Thari, explores bharatanatyam through Sarukkai, showcasing her work with the hallowed, and often unforgiving, tradition. The ticketed event will be followed by a post-performance discussion with Malavika Sarukkai.

BALLET WEST, Opera House

December 5-9, 2018

The Nutcracker (Tchaikovsky/Christensen)

with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra

Featuring Tchaikovsky's timeless holiday score, Ballet West returns to the Kennedy Center with Willam Christensen's beloved choreography in The Nutcracker. The fully redesigned production, unveiled last year in Salt Lake City, takes audiences on a dramatic, whimsical journey and features opulent sets, costumes, props, and spectacular effects, all while maintaining the integrity of the original choreography. Known as the longest-running full-length production in America, Christensen'sNutcracker was originally choreographed for San Francisco Ballet in 1944 after conversations with Alexandra Danilova and George Balanchine.

Matthew Bourne'S NEW ADVENTURES, Opera House

January 15-20, 2019

D.C. Premiere, Cinderella (Prokofiev/Bourne)

Following last season's production of The Red Shoes, renowned British choreographer Matthew Bourne and his company, New Adventures, return to the Opera House stage with one of their most popular and beloved productions,Cinderella. Bourne's vivid interpretation of the classic fairy tale-a thrilling and evocative love story-is set in London during the Second World War. This reimagined work, the revival of which premiered in London in December 2017, is a true war-time romance. A chance meeting results in a magical night for Cinderella and her dashing young RAF pilot, together just long enough to fall in love before being parted by the horrors of the Blitz. With Lez Brotherston's exquisite costumes and sets, lighting by Olivier Award-winning Neil Austin and video and projection design by Duncan McLean, Cinderella features a specially commissioned recording of Prokofiev's magnificent score. Bourne, the only British director to have won the Tony Award® for both Best Choreographer and Best Director (Swan Lake), is known for mixing popular appeal with groundbreaking, unique theatrical language, and high-quality production values.

American Ballet Theatre, Opera House

January 29-February 3, 2019

D.C. Premiere, Harlequinade (Drigo/Ratmansky after Petipa)

with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra

ABT Artist-in-Residence Alexei Ratmansky's all-new, evening-length work, Harlequinade, makes its D.C. premiere as part of the company's annual engagement. A retelling of Marius Petipa's 19th-century ballet Les Millions d'Arlequin, this comedic ballet in two acts is set to original music by Riccardo Drigo and features sets and costumes by Robert Perdziola. This bold new staging which receives its world premiere in June 2018, is a co-production with Australian Ballet. Ratmansky's production of Harlequinade for ABT pays tribute to Petipa's 200th birthday.


February 5-10, 2019

Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, the company celebrates its 60th anniversary season and marks its annual Kennedy Center engagement with seven performances in the Opera House. Each performance features Ailey's signature masterpiece,Revelations, which has been lauded by critics as being "choreographically perfect." In addition, Ailey's 32 extraordinary dancers will present a diverse mix of premieres and new productions. Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has earned a reputation as one of the finest international ambassadors of American culture, promoting the uniqueness of the African American cultural experience and the preservation and enrichment of American modern dance. The company has made frequent appearances at the Kennedy Center, dating back to the opening performance in 1971 in the world premiere of Leonard Bernstein's MASS choreographed by Alvin Ailey. In 2014, Robert Battle accepted the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, on behalf of Alvin Ailey, who received the award posthumously. Full programming will be announced at a later date.


February 13-16, 2019

Raise the Red Lantern (Jiping/Xinpeng and Yuanyuan)

with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra

Last seen at the Kennedy Center's Festival of China in 2005, the distinguished company returns with the award-winning ballet, Raise the Red Lantern. Aligning with the Center's annual Lunar New Year celebration, the evening-length work will be performed with full orchestra accompanied by National Ballet of China musicians performing on traditional Chinese instruments. Transformed for the stage from the hit 1991 film by acclaimed director Zhang Yimou and choreographer Wang Xinpeng, the production tells the haunting tale of a concubine sold by her mother into a stifling world of jealousy and resentment. Her love for an opera actor and the jealousy of a rival concubine lead to tragic consequences as the women compete for the raised red lantern, the signal of their master's favoritism. Traditional cheongsam outfits, mesmerizing melodies, and elements of Chinese opera and shadow puppet theater bring this powerful story of love, jealousy, and tragedy to life.


Terrace Theater

March 19, 2017

D.C. Premiere, Cross Transit (Yokoyama (agehasprings)/Kitamura)

In a unique collaboration between Japanese and Cambodian artists, international Japanese choreographer Japan Akikio Kitamura makes her Kennedy Center debut with a work inspired by Cambodian photographer Kim Hak. Based on Kitamura's fieldwork and interactions with artists of both countries and Hak's photographs of abandoned homes in Kep province, Cross Transit uses a variety of multimedia elements to "step into" the world of Hak's images. Dancers from both countries, with completely different backgrounds in contemporary dance, came together to collaborate as part of the process which has allowed Kitamura to gain new perspective on the views and expressions from both sides of Japan and other Asian countries. Various forms of approach are used, including body expression, film, and photography, to explore the future of Asia and interactions between Japan and Cambodia.

Bill T. Jones/ARNIE ZANE COMPANY, Eisenhower Theater

March 28-30, 2019

D.C. Premiere, The Analogy Trilogy (Hallett/Jones and Wong) three separate evenings:

Analogy/Dora: Tramontane, Analogy/Lance: Pretty aka The Escape Artist, andAnalogy/Ambros: The Emigrant

Last seen in 2011, revered choreographer and Kennedy Center Honoree Bill T. Jones and his company return to the Kennedy Center with three separate evening-length works collectively titled The Analogy Trilogy. Inspired by the writings of W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants, Jones's deeply personal work gives voice to the marginalized, exploring identity, migration, survival, and family, while incorporating text and song by the dancers onstage. An original score composed and performed by Nick Hallett takes inspiration from German Romantic Lieder, French chanson, 1990s club music, and includes song written by Lance T. Briggs himself. Hallett is joined by pianist Emily Manzo in the performances of Dora and Ambros and baritone, Matthew Gamble in Lance. The dancers become singers in both Lance andAmbros. This work is part of The Human Journey, the Kennedy Center's season-long investigation of who we are as a people that examines art and creativity through the lenses of migration, environment, discovery, identity, citizenship, and legacy.

As the first installment in the trilogy, Analogy/Dora: Tramontane is based on an oral history that Jones conducted with his mother-in-law, a French Jewish nurse and social worker. The work tells her harrowing, touching, and inspirational story of survival during World War II.

Analogy/Lance: Pretty aka The Escape Artist draws on conversations between Jones and his nephew Lance about the emotional struggle and hardships faced by Lance in the underworld of the late 80s and early 90s club culture and sex trade.

Inspired by W.G. Sebald's celebrated historical novel The Emigrants, Analogy/Ambros: The Emigrant is Jones's reaction to the central character Ambros Adelwarth. Through a fictionalized narrative for the character, Jones explores the impact of trauma on the psyche.

DEMO by Damian Woetzel, Title TBD, as part of DIRECT CURRENT,

Terrace Theater

March 29 & 30, 2019

D.C. Premieres

Continuing to unite artists from across diverse art forms in cross-genre performances focused around common themes, the Spring 2019 DEMO will be part of the second DIRECT CURRENT, the Kennedy Center's celebration of contemporary culture. Previous shows in the series have featured Broadway and NYCB star Tiler Peck, iconic dancer and actress Carmen de Lavallade, singer/songwriter Kate Davis, Tony®-winning actor Bill Irwin, tap dance revolutionary Michelle Dorrance, and a special DEMO commission choreographed by Bessie Award winner Pam Tanowitz set to a composition by Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw. Further programming and artists to be announced at a later date.


April 2-7, 2019

Two Repertory Programs:

Balanchine, Robbins, & Reisen

Composer's Holiday (Foss/Reisen)

Kammermusik No. 2 (Hindemith/Balanchine)

Opus19/The Dreamer (Prokofiev/Robbins)

Symphony in C (Bizet/Balanchine)

New Works and New Productions

Kennedy Center premiere by Justin Peck (Bernstein/Peck)

In the Night (Chopin/Robbins)

Something to Dance About (Various/Robbins, direction and musical staging by Carlyle)

Additional 2018-2019 premiere work to be announced at a later date

with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra

New York City Ballet (NYCB) returns to the Kennedy Center for its annual engagement with two stellar repertory programs. The first program includes two works not seen on the Kennedy Center stage since 1979: George Balanchine'sKammermusik No. 2, a ballet requiring great speed and precision performed by two couples and an eight-man ensemble, and Robbins's Opus19/The Dreamer, which follows a male protagonist on a journey to find his elusive and ethereal counterpart. The program also includes one of Balanchine's grand classical masterpieces,Symphony in C, along with female choreographer and School of American Ballet alum Gianna Reisen's first work for the company, Composer's Holiday, set to Lukas Foss's Three American Pieces for violin and piano.

From the company's Spring 2018 Robbins 100 celebration, the second program will include NYCB Resident Choreographer and Soloist Justin Peck's 16th new work for NYCB, set to premiere in May 2018, and Something to Dance About, Tony Award®-winning choreographer/director Warren Carlyle's first work for a ballet company. The ballet will feature 30 NYCB dancers in a showcase of music and choreography from landmark Broadway musicals that Robbins was closely associated with during his storied career and will feature excerpts of Robbins's original choreography. Also by Robbins, Into the Night, a ballet built on his fascination with Chopin's piano works, features three couples dancing to four of the composer's nocturnes. An additional work from the company's 2018-2019 season will be announced at later date.


April 9-14, 2019

Le Corsaire (Adan, Pugni, Delibes, Drigo, and Oldenburgsky/Gusev (1987) based on Petipa)

with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra

With choreography by Pyotr Gusev after Marius Petipa, the celebrated Mariinsky Ballet returns for its 17th annual engagement with the classic, evening-length balletLe Corsaire. The choreography represents, in all of its beauty, the expressive showcase of virtuoso ballet technique: its three principal roles for men, two principal female roles, and corps de ballet dances are standouts in the classical catalogue. A ballet in three acts, Le Corsaire follows the adventures of a dashing pirate, Conrad, who falls in love with a beautiful girl, Medora, and liberates her from the harem. Full of swashbuckling action, passion, and romance, the ballet has roots tracing back to the mid-19th century when composer Adolphe Adan wrote a score based on the motives of Lord Byron's poem, The Corsair.


May 2-4, 2019

D.C. Premiere & Kennedy Center debut, Rooming House (Caskey/Rhoads

and Danzig)

Recognized for its unique hybrid of high-level dance and theater, Chicago-based Lucky Plush Productions makes its Kennedy Center debut with Rooming House, a blend of contemporary dance with real-time theatrical storytelling. Co-created by Artistic Director Julia Rhoads and Leslie Buxbaum Danzig with original music by Michael Caskey, Rooming House begins with an intimate conversation among friends recalling stories of people who have taken actions with potentially devastating costs. When the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is mentioned, varied interpretations and contemporary associations propel the group into a physically and psychologically complex game of whodunit. Over the brisk and playful 75 minutes, the work becomes, in part, about how we use stories to make cases for what we believe in and how we draw each other into our perceptions of what is real.


May 28-June 2, 2019

with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra

Illustrating the dynamic variety of artistry happening in American companies today, the Kennedy Center's Ballet Across America series returns. The weeklong celebration of the art form has showcased more than 25 companies and nearly 40 repertory works from across the nation since its debut in 2008. Most recently, 2017's engagement of the series included world premiere Kennedy Center commissions from filmmaker Ezra Hurwitz and a new ballet by emerging choreographer Jeremy McQueen, which featured students of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School of American Ballet Theatre. Participating companies and full programs will be announced at a later date.

NATIONAL DANCE DAY, North Plaza and Grand Foyer

July 27, 2019

National Dance Day, a free all-day event celebrating the art form, takes place at the Kennedy Center for the sixth year in a row. Launched in 2010 by So You Think You Can Dance co-creator and Dizzy Feet Foundation co-president Nigel Lythgoe, National Dance Day is an annual celebration that takes place on the last Saturday in July. This grassroots campaign encourages Americans to embrace dance as a fun and positive way to maintain good health and combat obesity. It was officially recognized in 2010 when Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton introduced a resolution declaring the last Saturday in July to be the country's official National Dance Day. Programming to be announced at a later date.


Since opening its doors in 1971 with renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater performing in Leonard Bernstein's MASS along with annual performances by American Ballet Theatre, the Kennedy Center has been committed to presenting the broadest range of ballet and dance in the world. From the classical giants to the newest contemporary works, leading companies across the United States and around the globe grace the Kennedy Center stages each season. The Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra also accompanies every performance on the ballet series. In addition to performances, patrons expand their experiences through lectures, free post-performance discussions, open rehearsals, master classes, and demonstrations through the Kennedy Center's Explore the Arts program. The Center's Education Division offers student performances, workshops for teachers, and pre-professional training opportunities for students including the Kennedy Center Ballet Class Series and Contemporary Dance Class Series where advanced high school ballet and dance students have the unique chance to participate in master classes with teachers from the nationally and internationally celebrated ballet and contemporary dance companies performing at the Kennedy Center. Dozens of free contemporary dance performances are offered to the public throughout the year on the Millennium Stage, the Kennedy Center's free daily performance series and the Center's Local Dance Commissioning Project, which began annually in 2001, celebrates the local dance community by nurturing the creation of new dance and presenting that work to a wide audience via the Millennium Stage.

Photo: Companhia de Danc?a Deborah Colker_Dog without Feathers (Ca?o Sem Plumas) Photo Courtesy of the Company

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