In a nice bit of artistic overlapping, Brown’s work can be seen on two different occasions in that one stellar week. In addition to his company, Evidence, which will perform “On Earth Together,” accompanied by some of Stevie Wonder’s lesser-known songs, the Ailey company’s six-day engagement includes a revival of Brown’s “Grace. ” This is good news for people like me who can’t get enough of Brown’s silvery-smooth style of movement, a mix of West African, modern, street and club dancing, dusted with spiritual undertones.
We’ll also get two chances to see the work of Kyle Abraham, who made a stunning local debut last year. The Ailey troupe will perform the Washington premiere of Abraham’s jazz-inspired “Another Night,” while Abraham.in.Motion, as the choreographer’s small, excellent group is named, makes a separate appearance at Dance Place in April with his “Pavement,” which explores urban culture.
The Ailey company’s sojourn will be bittersweet, for it means the last time we’ll see the gorgeous Renee Robinson among its number. Robinson, a Washington native who has danced with Ailey since 1981, is retiring after this tour. A final chance to watch her serene, unhurried grace and to feel the unique connection she can forge with an Opera House crowd should not be missed.
As much as native stars dominate the season, a distinct international flavor also prevails. The Kennedy Center’s Nordic Cool festival launches, and dance troupes from Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden pepper the calendar in February and March. The festival aims to answer what is Nordic about the arts in those frosty lands, and I’m eager to know. For a few of the dance troupes, the answer seems murky. Danish Dance Theatre is run by an Englishman. The director of Sweden’s Goteborg Ballet was born in Romania and ran arts groups in Germany. And the single piece to be performed by Carte Blanche, the Norwegian National Company of Contemporary Dance, is a work by Sharon Eyal and Gai Bachar, of Israel.
More Israeli work will be on view at Dance Place in February when Idan Cohen, who grew up on a kibbutz and was a classical pianist before discovering dance, performs a work accompanied by Mozart piano sonatas. Carla Perlo, Dance Place founder and co-director, said she is “going out on a limb” in offering her black-box theater to Cohen, a relative unknown here who is doing a residency at American University, but such bold strokes are typical of her season.