Kennedy Center Announces 2019-2020 Ballet and Contemporary Dance Season

Kennedy Center Announces 2019-2020 Ballet and Contemporary Dance Season

Rediscover world-class grace and virtuosity, from titans of the repertoire to innovative original voices, as part of the 2019-2020 ballet and contemporary dance season at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The upcoming season-among the nation's most robust and dynamic-features the breadth of iconic and cutting-edge choreography performed by today's foremost companies.

The ballet season encompasses new perspectives on signatures classics steeped in tradition and includes the returns of the esteemed Bolshoi Ballet in Alexei Ratmansky's Romeo and Juliet, of which Washington is the only U.S. city to host the production, and The National Ballet of Canada with the storybook classic The Sleeping Beauty along with a repertory program including William Forsythe's demanding The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude. Scottish Ballet brings choreographer Helen Pickett's stunning dance adaption of Arthur Miller's drama The Crucible, which makes its U.S. premiere at the Kennedy Center following its world premiere in August 2019 at the famed Edinburgh International Festival. Atlanta Ballet makes its Kennedy Center debut with a new 2018 production of The Nutcracker, choreographed by San Francisco Ballet's acclaimed in-house choreographer Yuri Possokhov. In its annual engagement, the Mariinsky Balletbrings the U.S. premiere of its full-length 2017 production Paquita, which is rarely performed in its entirety. Returning for their cherished annual visits, New York City Ballet brings two repertory programs of revered classics, new works, and productions including Justin Peck's newest work, Principia, and Balanchine and Jerome Robbins's Firebird, while American Ballet Theatre brings its classic production of Giselle, showcasing a new generation of stars in iconic roles.

Exploring the rich legacy of modern dance and its influence on contemporary work, the dance season includes a celebration of pioneers of the field, from Martha Graham to Merce Cunningham, and living legends Mark Morris and Lucinda Childs. Opening the season, the Center joins the global centennial celebration of one of the most influential figures in modern dance, icon Merce Cunningham. Throughout his seven-decade career, Cunningham experimented with movement and sound (sometimes in opposition to each other) to create highly original and landmark inventions in concert dance. Led by Cunningham's long-time company member, Robert Swinston, who worked side -by-side with him for over 17 years, Compagnie Centre National de Danse Contemporaine-Angers (CNDC-ANGERS/Robert Swinston) makes its Kennedy Center debut with the 1999 masterwork BIPED, which incorporates projections of animated images superimposed on dancers, andBeach Birds, a 1991 work that transforms the movements of a flock of birds into dance. Before Cunningham, Martha Graham, the mother of American modern dance, made a lasting impact as a groundbreaking choreographer influencing generations of artists, including Cunningham and Paul Taylor, which is still seen in work nationally and internationally today. In the spring of 2020, in celebration of the centennial of the 19th amendment, extending American women the right to vote, the acclaimed Martha Graham Dance Company will present The EVE Project. Featuring a collection of new commissions, all choreographed by women, and signature Graham classics that make impactful statements about female power, the company will perform a repertory program from the project including Graham'sChronicle; Untitled Souvenir, a new work from Pam Tanowitz; and Lamentation Variations by Aszure Barton, Liz Gerring, and Michelle Dorrance, who each riff on Graham's iconic solo of the same name.

The season also features the return of the distinguished Mark Morris Dance Groupin Morris's latest evening-length production, Pepperland, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of The Beatles's trailblazing album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Bold new names, Kyle Abraham's A.I.M (formerly Abraham.In.Motion) and South African choreographer Gregory Maqoma's Vuyani Dance Theatre, join the contemporary dance season with the first full-length engagements by their companies. Last seen in 2017's Ballet Across America, A.I.M's repertory program will offer a rare opportunity to witness Abraham himself perform INDY, his first new full-length solo in nearly a decade. In a visually stunning full-length work, Cion: Requiem of Ravel's Boléro, Maqoma draws inspiration from creations by two artists: the character Toloki in South African author Zakes Mda's novel Cion and French composer Maurice Ravel's Boléro. Also this season, distinguished artists Maya Beiser, Wendy Whelan, Lucinda Childs, and David Lang bring their new evening-length music/dance collaboration, The Day, to the Kennedy Center for two nights only.

In its fifth season, DEMO, Damian Woetzel's acclaimed series uniting artists from different genres to explore a common theme, brings two programs: one to include Philadelphia's powerhouse contemporary dance company BalletX and one forDEMO: Now 2020. Returning favorites include the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, which will present repertory programs with a mix of exhilarating premieres and new productions as well as Matthew Bourne's New Adventures, which will perform Bourne's bold, Tony Award®-winning, production of Swan Lake at the Center for the first time.

Also this season, National Dance Day, the annual free all-day event celebrating the art form, will take place on September 21, 2019. The Kennedy Center, in association with American Dance Movement (formerly Dizzy Feet Foundation) and in conjunction with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, again partner for a dynamic 10th anniversary National Dance Day celebration. This year's National Dance Day, hosted by three-time Emmy Award®-winner Debbie Allen, will take place as part of opening festivities at the REACH, the Kennedy Center's newly expanded campus, and will include free outdoor performances, interactive dance routines and lessons, live music, and more.

The annual Local Dance Commissioning Project, which supports and fosters new dance works by local artists, enters its 19th year with works by this year's recipients, Robert Woofter and Ann Sofie Clemmensen. Inspired by the Center's newly expanded campus, both recipients will create site-specific work for the REACH using the space as a platform for discovery and opportunity with the purpose of breaking down boundaries between audience and art.

Throughout the season, the Center's Education Division offers numerous events connected to the work happening on stage from the current ballet and dance seasons, including conversations, panels, Q&As, lectures, artist talks, pre- and post-performance discussions, podcasts, and more.

Renewing subscribers may purchase series subscriptions on March 14, 2019 online at New subscribers may purchase series subscriptions on March 25, 2019 online at To receive subscription information by mail, call the Subscription Office at (202) 416-8500. Groups of 20 or more may contact Kennedy Center Group Sales at (202) 416-8400. Dates for sales of individual tickets will be announced at a later date.

The Kennedy Center's MyTix program offers patrons 18-30 years old, active duty members of the armed services, and elementary through undergraduate students to join for special discount offers and chances to win free tickets. For more information, visit

Photo by Andrew Eccles

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