Jane Franklin Dance has established itself as an arts group with a penchant for innovative productions and a commitment to community outreach. The company crosses disciplines to create partnerships with musicians and multimedia and visual artists; it often performs in unusual locations and encourages participation from residents, even those who are not dancers by nature or training.
It's been a good year for JFD. The group was named Best Dance Company in Washington City Paper's "Best of D.C. 2008" and made its international debut at Foro Performatica, a conference and festival at the Universidad Las Americas Puebla in Mexico. The group's ongoing projects include work with senior adult centers and after-school youth groups.
A case in point: this morning's "Concert for Community," a low-priced matinee. The performance will feature excerpts from this weekend's dance concert combined with the onstage participation of seniors from Arlington's Walter Reed and Langston Brown community centers.
And as for taking creative risks, what other dance company would create a piece called "Howard Dean's Scream"? Alas, that's not on this weekend's program, "The Music Made Me Do It," but "Breaking Ground," which combines dance, video and skateboarding, is. The piece was performed previously at a warehouse in the District and at a park in Arlington before being adapted for the T.J. Community Theatre's proscenium stage. Danced to music by the Low End String Quartet, it offers the classical sounds of a string quartet, reworked to use electric guitar, alternating with electronic hip-hop music by Monstah Black.
Saturday's concert will open with dances set to the pop standards "I've Got Rhythm" and "Blue Moon," to be performed by the 20-voice Metropolitan Chorus. The company will share the stage with the performers of the Young Dancers Project.
The evening will also feature the a cappella H-B Woodlawn Chamber Singers, under the direction of William Podolski, with an antiwar song, "You Are the New Day," and "Son de Camaguey," a Cuban folk song about the lush scenery and "naturally good-looking people" of the region. To accentuate that latter point, the JFD company will be joined by Drew Model School performers.
Rounding out the program, the company will perform "Branch" to Shostakovich's String Quartet No. 8 with guest artist Florian Roullier, and a duet, "Hand Hold," set to a composition for two marimbas and synthesizer.
-- MARIANNE MEYER
Thomas Jefferson Community Theatre is at 125 S. Old Glebe Rd. in Arlington. The nearest Metro station is at Ballston, which connects to the 10B bus toward Hunting Towers. Tickets at the door for today's show are $5 general admission; Saturday's show is $30 general admission, $20 for students and seniors, and $16 for children younger than 12. Information about reduced-price tickets is available online athttp:/