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The best and worst of 2009: Dance

BRIDGING THE GAP: Joe Bowie tied together ballet and modern style in the Mark Morris Dance Group's
BRIDGING THE GAP: Joe Bowie tied together ballet and modern style in the Mark Morris Dance Group's "Mozart Dances." (Gene Schiavone)
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By Sarah Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 20, 2009


1. "Disfarmer" by Dan Hurlin, Nov. 5-6 at Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center: This deeply poignant mystery tale featured a cranky and insistently human puppet. In choreographer-turned-puppeteer Hurlin's hands, Arkansas' nearly forgotten portrait photographer Mike Disfarmer became an unforgettable American hero.

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2. Merce Cunningham's "Sounddance," July 14 at Wolf Trap: Cunningham's ecstatic celebration of life, created in 1975, roared like it was new-made. Less than two weeks later, Cunningham, 90, was dead.

3. "La Sylphide," performed by the Washington Ballet Feb. 12-15 at the Kennedy Center: The company did right by Danish choreographer August Bournonville's tender, tragic 1836 tale, which starred American Ballet Theatre's David Hallberg.

4. New York City Ballet, March 4-8 at the Kennedy Center: Among the many highlights were "Mercurial Manoeuvres," Christopher Wheeldon's mind-enlarging meditation on extremes, and the geyser force of Alexei Ratmansky's "Concerto DSCH."

5. "Mozart Dances" by Mark Morris Dance Group, Jan. 29-31 at the Kennedy Center: Morris found a common thread between ballet and modern dance here, with the warmth of the romantic era and the full-bodied heft of his own barefoot idiom.

6. "Le Corsaire," performed by the Bolshoi Ballet, June 16-21 at the Kennedy Center: The mighty Bolshoi made you believe in every last pirate, harem girl and pasha.

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