Kennedy Center Announces the 2023/24 Dance Season Featuring New York City Ballet, Sydney Dance Company & More

New York City Ballet celebrates 75 years with George Balanchine’s Jewels.

By: Mar. 09, 2023
Kennedy Center Announces the 2023/24 Dance Season Featuring New York City Ballet, Sydney Dance Company & More
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Continuing to bring world class dance to the stages of the National Cultural Center, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts today announced its 2023-2024 dance season. Being at the forefront of responding to the moment, today's artists and companies are challenging the frame of storytelling, shifting the boundaries of what movement can be, and showcasing the dynamic form in a multitude of ways blurring the lines between classical and contemporary. Through this lens, audiences will experience a season filled with innovative works and collaborations among ballet and dance offerings, beloved classics, master voices, and newcomers to the stage.

"This new season represents an expansion for me-an expansion of aesthetics, an expansion of voices contributing to our ballet curation, and an expansion of what ballet at the Kennedy Center looks like," stated Jane Raleigh, Director of Dance Programming. "I invite audiences to envision these companies and works along a spectrum and how they add to a fuller understanding of the artistry that comes from dance."

"The joyful, transformative experience of live performance is unlike anything else. The upcoming season represents an extraordinary range of international and American forms for audiences to immerse themselves in," said Alicia Adams, Vice President of Dance and International Programming. "We are always looking for artists who are creative innovators in the field whether drawing on traditional roots or pushing the boundaries of contemporary concepts. The Center has a long history of celebrating cultural heritage from across the world which we continue in this season."

The season kicks off with the return of renowned bharatanatyam interpreter Malavika Sarukkai, who brings her latest solo work, created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (November 10-11). Australia's leading contemporary dance group, Sydney Dance Company makes its long-awaited at the Center debut in 2024, with live music performed by the Australian String Quartet (April 25-27). The season also includes the returns of the foremost all-male comic ballet company, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, in its 50th Anniversary season (April 4-6); Brazil's internationally critically-acclaimed Grupo Corpo, last seen as part of the Center's 2015 Iberian Suite: global arts remix international festival (March 1-2); and in collaboration with Japan Society a one-night-only performance featuring Nihon Buyo ("Japanese dance"), a classical art form performed by artists skillfully trained in kabuki dance (January 29).

Ringing in the holidays, audiences will experience two different Nutcrackers with the return of Ballet West in the country's first and longest-running production of the ballet (November 22 & 24-26) and the acclaimed tap company Dorrance Dance in celebration of the music of jazz icon

Duke Ellington, with its Nutcracker Suite using the Ellington/Strayhorn jazz adaptation of the famed Tchaikovsky score (November 30-December 2). The season will also see a second Kennedy Center debut: the celebrated San Francisco-based Alonzo King LINES Ballet with a work created in collaboration with Grammy®-winning vocalist Lisa Fischer and Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran (May 16-18). Award-winning dancer, choreographer, and educator LaTasha Barnes will present The Jazz Continuum, centering the prolific artistry of Jazz music and dance as a cornerstone of Black American culture and community (November 17-18). In addition, Kennedy Center annual favorites Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (February 6-11), American Ballet Theatre (February 21-25), and New York City Ballet celebrating 75 years (June 4-9), return to the Opera House stage. *The majority of the ballet offerings on the season will include live music by the Center's own Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra. =

Continuing its efforts to highlight underrepresented voices working in the ballet aesthetic and develop more diverse representation in the field of ballet, the Kennedy Center will present two special engagements in summer 2024. Co-curated by Phil Chan, a Kennedy Center Next 50 leader, 10,000 Dreams: A Celebration of Asian Choreography is a week-long festival-style engagement inspired by Chan's Final Bow for Yellowface initiative to elevate Asian creatives on and off-stage (June 18-23). This celebration will feature Houston Ballet, The Washington Ballet, Ballet West, and other artists to be announced at a later date in a gala and two mixed repertory programs of works all by Asian choreographers. Programs will include several new works along with a focus on the contributions of Choo San Goh, the late Singaporean-born choreographer of Chinese descent who served as resident choreographer for The Washington Ballet for nearly a decade and was hailed artistically for making major contributions to the ballet field.

The Center's 2022 Reframing the Narrative celebration-a recognition of the historical and continuing contributions of Black ballet dancers-sparked meaningful conversations with both audiences and artists. In a continuation of this work, curator Theresa Ruth Howard (founder of Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet) brings her Pathways to Performance program for a two performance engagement July 2-3. Recently premiered works by Black choreographers and a newly commissioned ballet by award-winning choreographer Jennifer Archibald will be presented as part of the performances. The cast of Black-identifying ballet dancers assembled by Howard and Archibald will participate in a two-week creative process through the Center's Social Impact Office Hours Residency program, culminating in a world premiere ballet by Archibald.

This season also welcomes six community members and ballet experts and educators as part of the newly formed Kennedy Center Dance Council. Championing dance expertise and knowledge in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, including a multiplicity of voices and perspectives, the Council will advise on the content of the Center's ballet series offerings. They will also serve as ambassadors for the Center's dance programs to young performers, schools, and the local community. Council members include: Caroline Rocher Barnes (Assistant Professor of Dance at Towson University), Tammy Hurt (Principal of the Washington School of Ballet SE Campus), Roger Jeffrey (Term Assistant Professor at George Mason University's School of Dance), Brandye Lee (Adjunct Lecturer at Howard University's Chadwick A. Boseman School of Fine Arts), Constance Walsh (Associate Artistic Director of BalletNova), and Robert "Bambi" Woofter (Director of haus of bambi).

The annual Local Dance Commissioning Project (LDCP), which supports and fosters new dance works by Washington, D.C. metro area artists, continues its season-long support, providing significant monetary provision to the commission awardee. The REACH acts as a platform for discovery and opportunity throughout the residency months, with a finished product culminating in a presentation in the Terrace Theater, Family Theater, or Millennium Stage. This year's awardee is Project ChArma, led by Ama and Chris Law to develop their work, Chronicles of Nina...what now.

In addition, National Dance Day, the annual free event celebrating the art form, will take place on September 16, 2023. Kicking-off the Hip Hop at 50 celebration at the Center, this popular event will focus on the pillars of the hip hop dance style as it has changed over the past 50 years and will be co-curated with four DMV-based hip hop community members. The Kennedy Center, in association with American Dance Movement and in conjunction with Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, will partner for the 13th year.

Throughout the season, the Center's Education Division offers numerous events connected to the work happening on stage including masterclasses, conversations, artist talks, family dance workshops, and more.

The 2023-2024 Kennedy Center Dance Season

2023-2024 ANNUAL LOCAL DANCE COMMISSIONING PROJECT, Location TBA Dates to be announced

Project ChArma: Chronicles of Nina...what now

World Premiere

LDCP centers the artistic and professional advancement of the Washington, D.C. metro area dance community by providing resources and support to a local artist with the goal of serving as a stepping-stone for artists to reach the next step in their artistic trajectory. Through LDCP, the Kennedy Center supports the production of the artist's work in its venues and works closely with each awardee to further advance that individual's professional and artistic goals throughout the duration of the award year. Awardees additionally participate in the Center's "Office Hours" residency program, as well as other Center programming in the 2023-2024 season. This year's awardee is Project ChArma, led by Ama and Chris Law for their work Chronicles of Nina...what now. Presented as a work-in-progress during 2022's National Dance Day celebration, the piece is an exploration of Nina Simone's music paralleled to the black experience through modern, West African, and street-derived movement. Further details about the work and its premiere will be announced at a later date.


September 16, 2023

In Partnership with American Dance Movement and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton

National Dance Day, a free event celebrating the art form, will take place throughout the REACH and Kennedy Center campus for the 13th year. This year will kick-off the Hip Hop at 50 celebration at the Kennedy Center with performances, classes, and dance parties highlighting the pillars of hip hop including dance, DJ, MC, graffiti, community, and fashion for all ages and abilities. Experience hip hop dance styles as they have changed over the past 50 years from the playground to the house party to the club. This year's event is co-curated with DMV-based hip hop community members, Lauren DeVera, Ama Law, Chris Law, and Chitra Subramanian. Additional details about programming and access will be made available in the coming months. For more information about National Dance Day, see here.


November 10-11, 2023

Anubandh - Connectedness (Murthy/Sarukkai)

A new solo dance creation conceptualized and choreographed by eminent artist Malavika Sarukkai, Anubandh - Connectedness is a path breaking work in the language of Bharatanatyam which imaginatively reworks tradition. Exploring the essential relationship between nature and life, the work seeks to recognize and reclaim humanity's primordial relationships: with the Sun and the Moon, as well as with the Five Great Elements as honored in India: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Space. The artist invites you to journey with her-from the familiar to the unfamiliar as the narrative moves from the personal to the shared and from the individual to the collective. Personal, bold and intense, this production explores the human condition arising from pleasure, violence, loneliness, isolation, and sorrow. At a time of uncertainty in a fractured world, Anubandh is a call to the transformative power of hope. Anubandh is supported by an innovative light design and brings together a spectrum of musicians who have created individual and collective music compositions. Sarukkai will also be seen during the Center's RiverRun festival in spring of 2023.

LATASHA BARNES PRESENTS THE JAZZ CONTINUUM, Eisenhower Theater November 17-18, 2023

The Jazz Continuum (Various with Music Direction by S. Mason and C. McBride/Various)

Internationally awarded and critically-acclaimed artist, choreographer, educator, U.S. Army Veteran, Virginia native, and tradition-bearer of Black American Social Dance, LaTasha Barnes makes her first appearance on the dance season with her widely celebrated work, The Jazz Continuum. Centering the prolific artistry of Jazz music and dance as a cornerstone of Black American culture and community, this "joyful elixir" of a cultural experience features an intergenerational and multi-disciplinary cast of Black dancers and musicians, local dance icons, and collaborators who will all create an offering to and DMV specific exploration of the continuum. The collective will build this new work and further expand their communal language during a five-day residency leading up to the engagement as part of the Center's Office Hours program.

First commissioned by Works & Process at the Guggenheim and supported by a Works & Process bubble residency in 2021, The Jazz Continuum pays respect to the lineage of Black dance elders such as Norma Miller, Consuelo Harris, Earl Snake Hips Tucker, Marjory Smarth, and many others in a directed improvgraphical celebration of decades of Black dance expressions. With music direction by Christopher McBride, the work champions music and dances from across the diaspora with acknowledgements to Harlem, Chicago, New Orleans, Cuba, Angola, Brazil, and the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.

BALLET WEST, Opera House

November 22 & 24-26, 2023

The Nutcracker (Tchaikovsky/Christensen)

with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra

Featuring Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's timeless holiday score, Ballet West returns to the Kennedy Center with Willam Christensen's beloved choreography in The Nutcracker. Last seen at the Center in 2018 and considered to be America's first Nutcracker, the cherished production 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's Nutcracker was originally choreographed for San Francisco Ballet in 1944 after conversations with Alexandra Danilova and George Balanchine.

DORRANCE DANCE, Eisenhower Theater

November 30-December 2, 2023

The Nutcracker Suite* (Ellington, Strayhorn/Dorrance and Wiggan)

A Kennedy Center Co-commission

Part of Duke Ellington at 125 Celebration

Explosive tap dance meets your favorite holiday classic. This Nutcracker boogies, slides, struts, and dives into Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn's intoxicating interpretation of the Tchaikovsky classic. Acclaimed choreographer and MacArthur Fellow Michelle Dorrance along with collaborators Hannah Heller and Josette Wiggan, transform the Kennedy Center stage into a world of jazz, swingin' syncopation, and vernacular sugar, persuading us all to be a little more soulful this holiday season.

*Full Title: We Present to You: The Nutcracker Suite or, a Rhythmaturgical Evocation of the Super-Leviathonic Enchantments of Duke and Billy's Supreme Adaptation of Tchaikovsky's Masterpiece That Tells a Tale of a Misunderstood Girl Who Kills a King and Meets a Queen and Don't Forget OOOO-Gong-Chi-Gong-Sh'-Gon-Make-It-Daddy, and That It Ain't So Bad After All.

Nihon Buyo in the 21st Century: From Kabuki Dance to Boléro, Terrace Theater January 29, 2024

Toba-e (Traditional kabuki dance)

Boléro - The Legend of Anchin and Kiyohime (Ravel/Hanayagi Genkuro)

For over a century, Japan Society in New York has built connections between Japan and the United States through arts and culture. The Center has had a decade's long commitment to present artists of Japanese heritage and annually partners with Japan Society to feature work that it tours. This year's presentation at the Center is a selection of classical nihon buyo dance works and a re-imagining of composer Maurice Ravel's iconic Boléro, based on the legend of Princess Kiyohime. Literally meaning "Japanese dance," nihon buyo is a form of dance derived from kabuki dance techniques that was developed over three centuries ago. The six dancer Boléro, choreographed by one of the younger generation's leading traditional nihon buyo dancers Hanayagi Genkuro, recounts the story of the famous kabuki play Musume Dojoj in which Princess Kiyohime transforms into a vengeful snake demon.


February 6-11, 2024

Repertory Programs to include Revelations

Led by Artistic Director Robert Battle, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Kennedy Center during its 65th anniversary season for an annual engagement of seven performances in the Opera House. In addition to premieres and new productions, the inspiring finale of each program is Ailey's signature masterpiece Revelations, which is lauded by the Washington Post as "one of the simplest and most perfect dances ever made." 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 the late Alvin Ailey, a trailblazing artist who is the subject of the acclaimed documentary Ailey now streaming on Hulu. Full programming will be announced at a later date.


February 21-25, 2024

Swan Lake (Tchaikovsky/McKenzie after Petipa and Ivanov)

with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra

American Ballet Theatre marks its annual engagement with one of the most beloved full-length classical ballets in the canon, Swan Lake. Set to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky's glorious score with choreography by Kevin McKenzie after Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, this romantic fable is one

of ill-fated passion, dreamlike transformation, and ultimately, forgiveness. McKenzie's staging of Swan Lake, having premiered at the Kennedy Center in March of 2000 and last seen at the Center in 2017, preserves Petipa's traditional choreography while enhancing the ballet, most

noticeably with the addition of the prologue depicting Odette's capture/transformation. Evoking a Renaissance court at a lakeside castle, the production features grand sets and costumes by Zack Brown, with lighting by Duane Schuler.


March 1 & 2, 2024

Estancia (Ginastera/Pederneiras)

GIL REFAZENDO (Gil/Pederneiras)

A wildly popular dance ensemble from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, Grupo Corpo has been a strong international representative of Brazilian contemporary dance since its founding. Last seen at the Center as part of the 2015 Iberian Suite: global arts remix festival, the company is known for its combination of classical technique and a contemporary re-reading of popular Brazilian dance forms. In a mixed repertory program, the company will bring two works: Estancia, set to the music of Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera and commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and Music Director Gustav Dudamel (premieres in summer 2023). The piece unfolds against the landscape of disappearing Argentine gaucho culture telling the tale of a city boy who tries to win the heart of a rancher's daughter by showing off his skills as a horseman and dancer. Considered to be one of the Godfather's of Brazilian music, Gilberto Gil's soundtrack serves as the foundation of the reconstructed interpretation of the company's 2019 work, GIL REFAZENDO. The arc of the soundtrack includes four-themes throughout the 38- minute work featuring high-intensity and large-group ensembles backed by onstage projections.


April 4-6, 2024

Swan Lake (Tchaikovsky/after Ivanov)

Go for Barocco (J.S. Bach/Anastos)

The Swan (Saint-Saëns/after Fokine)

Paquita (Minkus/Kunikova after Petipa)

An additional work to be announced

with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra

Last seen at the Center in 2017 and celebrating its 50th anniversary season, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo-the all-male ballet troupe that dances en pointe-makes a return to the Opera House accompanied by the full Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra. Presenting a playful, entertaining view of traditional classical ballet in parody form with comedy achieved by incorporating and exaggerating the conventions and incongruities of serious dance, the company will perform traditionally beloved ballet classics in their signature twist including Swan Lake, Go for Barocco, The Swan, Paquita, and an additional work to be announced at a later date.

SYDNEY DANCE COMPANY with the AUSTRALIAN STRING QUARTET, Eisenhower Theater April 25-27, 2024

Impermanence/Disintegration (Dessner/Bonachela)

Kennedy Center Debut and U.S. Premiere

Australia's leading contemporary dance company makes its long-awaited Kennedy Center debut with the full evening-length work Impermanence/Disintegration. A collaboration among the company, Grammy Award® winner composer Bryce Dessner, and the Australian String Quartet, the work is a visceral exploration of the juxtaposition of beauty and devastation choreographed by Artistic Director Rafael Bonachela. Heavily influenced by the searing impact of the wildfires that devastated Australia and the Notre Dame fire in Paris in 2019, Impermanence reflects on the mutability of the structures around us, both tangible and intangible. With Dessner's score performed live onstage by the Australian String Quartet, the creative team also includes lighting by Damien Cooper, set design by David Fleischer, and costumes by Aleisa Jelbart.


May 16-18, 2024

Deep River (Fischer and Moran/King)

Kennedy Center Debut

The acclaimed San Francisco-based contemporary ballet company marks its Kennedy Center debut with its newest work, Deep River. The 65-minute piece features Grammy Award®- winning vocalist Lisa Fischer set to a score by jazz pianist, composer, MacArthur Fellow, and Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz, Jason Moran. A soulful work fused with Black spirituals created in honor of the company's 40th anniversary, this is King's second collaboration with Fischer and his ninth collaboration with Moran. Celebrating over four decades of evocative dance, master choreographer Alonzo King's unique artistic vision adheres to the classical form-the linear, mathematical, and geometrical principles deeply rooted in the East-West continuum.


June 4-9, 2024

Jewels (Fauré, Stravinsky, Tchaikovsky/Balanchine)

with the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra

In its 75th anniversary year, the world-renowned New York City Ballet (NYCB) returns for its annual engagement with Jewels, one of George Balanchine's most loved ballets and a work that has not been seen at the Center since the 2013-2014 season. Choreographed for the company in 1967, Jewels is recognized as the first full-length abstract work of classical ballet. In three distinct acts sustained by Karinska's costumes-the dreamlike "Emeralds," set to the French composer Gabriel Fauré, the jazzy "Rubies," set to Igor Stravinsky, and the courtly "Diamonds," set to Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky-Jewels reflects three distinct styles: French romanticism in "Emeralds", an explosion of neoclassical glamour in "Rubies", and a celebration of classical splendor in "Diamonds".

10,000 Dreams: A Celebration of Asian Choreography, Opera House

June 18-23, 2024

Two Mixed Repertory Programs + A One-Night Only Gala Program

Co-Curated with Phil Chan, Final Bow for Yellowface

Curated by the Kennedy Center and Phil Chan, a Kennedy Center Next 50 leader and co-founder of Final Bow for Yellowface, 10,000 Dreams: A Celebration of Asian Choreography is a week long festival-style engagement at further recognizing and elevating Asian creatives onstage and off. This celebration will feature a one-night-only Gala and two mixed repertory programs of works all by Asian choreographers from ballet companies across the nation, including several D.C. premieres. The Washington Ballet, Ballet West, and Houston Ballet will participate as part of the week with repertoire including, respectively: Brett Ishida's home-coming, Choo San Goh's Fives, and a pas de deux excerpt from Momentum; new works from Caili Quan and Zhongjing Fang; and Disha Zhang's Elapse. Additional companies and artists will be announced at a later date.

The 10,000 Dreams gala evening will have a special focus on the late Choo San Goh, who Chan believes "should be recognized as a great American choreographer and a trailblazer for our community." A Singaporean-born choreographer of Chinese descent who died in 1987 at the age of 39, Goh served as resident choreographer for The Washington Ballet for nearly a decade, contributing works for American Ballet Theatre, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Paris Opera, the Royal Danish Ballet, Houston Ballet, Boston Ballet, among many other companies around the world.

This festival serves as an extension of Final Bow for Yellowface's mission of making ballet more inclusive. Conceived in 2017 following a meeting with NYCB's former Artistic Director Peter Martins about Asian stereotypes in The Nutcracker, the globally recognized initiative works to "replace caricature with character"-to speak up against Yellowface on ballet stages and create Asian representations that are culturally meaningful and engaging to all audiences. This work has manifested into the formation of the Gold Standard Arts Foundation, a service organization for Asian American creatives working in dance.

Pathways to Performance: Exercises in Reframing the Narrative, Eisenhower Theater July 2-3, 2024

Repertory Program with Kennedy Center Commission and World Premiere Guest Curator Theresa Ruth Howard

The history of Black dancers in ballet is rich-but many voices and many stories have remained untold and unheard. Efforts to reframe the narrative press creating pathways to performance.

A continuation of the work begun during the Center's 2022 Reframing the Narrative celebration, which celebrated the historical and continuing contributions of Black ballet dancers, guest curator (and founder of Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet) Theresa Ruth Howard returns with results of her most recent endeavor, the Pathways to Performance Choreographic Program. Pathways cultivates and mentors Black choreographers working in the ballet idiom, providing concrete opportunities for the creation and presentation of new works. In addition to works by Pathways to Performance Choreographic Fellows, this two-performance engagement features a newly Kennedy Center commissioned ballet by award-winning choreographer Jennifer Archibald. As with the Reframing the Narrative Residency, the two-week creative process through the Center's Social Impact Office Hours Residency Program will center Blackness and foster the culture of Ballet to which the field should aspire, culminating in a world premiere work during the engagement. Additional information regarding programming will be announced at a later date.

Photo Credit: RJ Muna


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