THE WASHINGTON BALLET is many things, but is it "Giselle"? That is the challenge facing this decidedly eclectic, contemporary company as it mounts its first production of the 19th-century romantic work, a ballet with neither irony nor edge but plenty of misty atmosphere. South African choreographer Charla Genn and Washington Ballet Artistic Director Septime Webre have teamed up to create their own version of "Giselle" along traditional lines; the two longtime friends share a "rough-and-tumble, roll-with-the-punches" style, as Webre put it recently. Rasta Thomas, a onetime local student and a member of Dance Theatre of Harlem, will guest-star in the role of Albrecht, the nobleman who deceives the peasant lass of the title, with tragic consequences. Thomas will dance with the Washington Ballet's Michelle Jimenez on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday evenings.

-- Sarah Kaufman

At the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater. Wednesday through Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2:30 and 8 p.m., and next Sunday at 2:30 p.m. $29-$84. Call 202-467-4600 or visit


MARILYN HORNE, the great mezzo- soprano, will share a stage tomorrow night with Michael M. Kaiser, the impresario of music, theater and dance -- and president of the Kennedy Center. Neither has promised to sing; instead they'll be telling behind-the- curtain tales and remembering famous nights at the opera. Horne is the first participant in the Kennedy Center's new series of one-on-one conversations, called "Voices of the Arts." And hers was a voice that captivated critics wherever she performed her interpretations of Rossini, Bellini, Bizet and Verdi. Perhaps Horne will reminisce about her debut at Covent Garden in 1964, or her first role at the Metropolitan Opera in 1970, or even the way she sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" for the inauguration of President Clinton.

-- Jacqueline Trescott

At the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater. Tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. $15. Call 202-467-4600 or visit


THIS THURSDAY IS the perfect occasion for working stiffs to visit the Hirshhorn Museum, because it's got special extended hours. You can not only make an after-work visit to the museum's fascinating Ana Mendieta show but also take a virtual trip to Gwangju, South Korea, thanks to a lecture by Hirshhorn curator Kerry Brougher. Brougher was one of the artistic directors of the international biennial now running in Gwangju. Those of us who didn't manage to get to the Far East to witness the labors of Brougher, assistant curator Milena Kalinovska (who will be joining him at the podium) and biennial artist Jim Sanborn -- all Washingtonians -- can at least hear how things panned out, and see pictures of what we missed.

-- Blake Gopnik

At the Hirshhorn's Ring Auditorium, Independence Avenue at Seventh Street SW. Thursday at 7 p.m. Free. Call 202-357-2700 or visit