Top dance picks for the spring

By Sarah Kaufman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 31, 2010

FEBRUARY

2 -- For two decades, Judith Jamison has been the face of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the driving, charismatic force behind it. To celebrate her 20th -- and last -- year as the globally loved troupe's artistic director, the Ailey company presents a host of new works as well as time-tested favorites. Among the local premieres are Jamison's "Among Us (Private Spaces: Public Places)" and Ronald K. Brown's tribute to Jamison, "Dancing Spirit." Bonus: The Obama sighting factor is high during this engagement. The first couple are the honorary chairs of Ailey's opening-night gala. At Kennedy Center Opera House. Through Feb. 7.

5 -- Slain journalist Daniel Pearl lives on in Doug Varone's newest work, "Alchemy," which features Steve Reich's score "Daniel Variations." But it's not that newsworthiness that intrigues us about the Doug Varone and Dancers appearance; it's Varone's deft way with subtle little dramas and quiet, fleeting moments. At Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Through Feb. 6.

5 -- Music is always central to the Mark Morris Dance Group, and even if you attended with eyes shut you would stand to be treated to a gorgeous live concert. This program includes works by Charles Ives, Beethoven and Schumann. At George Mason University's Center for the Arts Concert Hall. Through Feb. 6.

9 -- It's not so much the ballet as the dancers who are most enticing about the Mariinsky Ballet's engagement. "The Sleeping Beauty" will get a big boost of beauty from the dramatically strong and thrillingly wild Diana Vishneva, dancing the leading role on opening night, followed on subsequent performances by the somewhat controversial hyper-flexibility of Alina Somova and the technical command of Viktoria Tereshkina. At Kennedy Center Opera House. Through Feb. 14.

9 -- Think of it as the best possible gathering at the hottest intersection in Seville: The 10th annual Flamenco Festival features an array of important figures. Of particular note: Compañía María Pagés, led by an innovator of modern flamenco, and Israel Galván, who is known for a mix of dazzling footwork and commanding silence. At George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium. Through Feb. 23.

16 -- There won't be as much blood in the Bolshoi Ballet's "Spartacus" as in that new series on Starz. But there will definitely be buff bodies. And you know those Bolshoi dancers will throw their hearts into this somewhat schmaltzy Soviet-era ballet, no matter how dated it might seem. At Kennedy Center Opera House. Through Feb. 21.

24 -- Financiers freak us out more than ever, so what better time for a ballet about the dangerous bond-trading "Great Gatsby"? And can't you just imagine the tipsy glamour, the cute cloche hats and how fab those flapper dresses will look on dancers? Best of all, it's a brand-new work, custom-made by Washington Ballet Artistic Director Septime Webre for his excellent dancers. At Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater. Through Feb. 28.

MARCH

3 -- The Suzanne Farrell Ballet resurrects Balanchine's "Haieff Divertimento," a chamber work from 1947, with music by Alexei Haieff. A long-lost gem? We'll see. The group will also perform Balanchine's "Donizetti Variations," "Agon," "Apollo," the pas de deux from "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and Jerome Robbins's "Afternoon of a Faun." At Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater. Through March 7.

APRIL

29 --You get a little bit of everything with Shen Wei Dance Arts: a fine, painterly eye for color; delicate, controlled dancing that's like brush strokes on air; set design with an architectural sense of dimension and texture. Because he oversees not only the choreography but also the design elements, Shen Wei creates a whole world onstage. His triptych, "Re- (Parts I, II and III)," was inspired by his travels. At Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater. Through April 30.

MAY

1 -- Anna Sokolow was an unflinching choreographer of human pain and alienation. Not exactly popular stuff but unforgettably piercing. Her works are not seen much anymore (she died in 2000), which is why the Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company's reconstruction of her 1955 piece about urban isolation, "Rooms," is so fascinating. At Dance Place. Through May 2.

14 -- Nacho Duato's Compañía Nacional de Danza, from Spain, makes it first trip here and its last with Duato at the helm. The choreographer, who took over in 1990, is known for his deeply felt modern-dance works. At Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater. Through May 15.

19 -- Here is a series that lives up to its name. The third installment of the Washington Ballet's Genius series features some of the best choreography we'll see this spring, with Mark Morris's gentle "Pacific," accompanied by Lou Harrison's trio for violin, cello and piano, originally made for the San Francisco Ballet; Twyla Tharp's jaunty "Push Comes to Shove," created for Mikhail Baryshnikov and the American Ballet Theatre; and Balanchine's "The Four Temperaments." At Sidney Harman Hall. Through May 23.

15 -- Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company is the chief attraction of Ballet Across America II, a sampler of companies from across the country. Christopher Wheeldon's remarkable troupe -- bravely launched three years ago, when no one was doing start-ups, and devoted to approachability -- is largely a vehicle for Wheeldon's finely executed choreography but also embraces works by others. Performing as well: the Houston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Tulsa Ballet and others. At Kennedy Center Opera House. Through June 20.


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