Little gem

Word Dance Theater performs "Preludes: Duncan, Sand & Chopin" at Shakepeare

Cynthia Word
Cynthia Word
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

We can never get enough of Isadora Duncan, the original modern dancer, the trailblazing modern woman -- and an artist who inspires such continued passion that, more than 80 years after her death, she has a world premiere coming up.

"Preludes: Duncan, Sand & Chopin" is likely the dance season's most historically significant event, a one-night-only production by the modest D.C. company Word Dance Theater. Artistic Director Cynthia Word has conceived a program in which all 24 of Duncan's "Preludes" -- solos that she choreographed to short piano works by Chopin -- will be performed in one evening for the first time ever. Not even Duncan, who typically danced the works three or four at a time, managed this feat, Word says. Most of the solos have not been seen since the 1940s.

But this isn't just a dance concert; it's also theater. Word has placed the dancing in the context of Chopin's romance with George Sand, the French novelist. Woven throughout the solos will be appearances by an actress playing Sand, reminiscing about lost love "while the dancers guide her through the growth that's necessary," Word says.

Playwright Mary Hall Surface wrote the script, based on Sand's letters to the composer; pianist Carlos Cesar Rodriguez will be at the keyboard in the role of Chopin; and dancing the solos will be Word, Ingrid Zimmer and Duncan scholar Jeanne Bresciani, who learned the works from one of Duncan's adopted daughters. Word Dance Theater in "Preludes: Duncan, Sand & Chopin." Nov. 4. 7:30 p.m. at the Lansburgh Theatre, 450 Seventh St. NW. Call 202-547-1122 or visit Also March 5-6 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St. NE. -- Sarah Kaufman

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