FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS, American artist Jenny Holzer has been one of our preeminent wordsmiths. By which I mean that she has hammered away at text, twisting and cutting and manipulating it until it does the work she wants it to. Today and tomorrow, Holzer will be presenting a series of her new "Xenon Projections" across the surfaces of Washington buildings. Tonight, a powerful projector will beam the words of three contemporary poets across the facade of a new arts building near Logan Circle. Tomorrow night, other poems, as well as text taken from declassified government documents, will be projected onto the Gelman Library at George Washington University. As usual with Holzer, some meanings will be lost as the words scroll by. Other snippets of sense ought to be amplified. And every bit of text will be transformed.
-- Blake Gopnik
At 1515 14th St. NW, today starting one hour after dusk until midnight. At Gelman Library, 2130 H St. NW, tomorrow starting one hour after dusk until midnight. Call 202-360-2573 or visit www.curatorsoffice.com.
FACE IT -- TUESDAY is going to be a long night. Those of you who can tear yourselves away from your televisions for a couple of hours will be rewarded by the Washington area debut of the Trio Solisti, an ensemble that features three extraordinary musicians -- violinist Maria Bachmann, pianist Jon Klibonoff and cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach. The music will include works by Maurice Ravel, Johannes Brahms and the Pulitzer Prize-winning American composer Paul Moravec. Give yourself a break -- come out to the Kennedy Center and ease the tension. There will still be plenty of time to bite your nails later on.
-- Tim Page
At the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater. Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. $27, with $10 tickets for patrons wearing an "I Voted" sticker. Call 202-785-WPAS or visit www.wpas.org.
A COUPLE YEARS BACK, it was easy to mix up Vanessa Carlton and Michelle Branch: Both were MTV-born brunettes with legit pop skills and fiendishly catchy hits that sucked on your brain (MB's "Everywhere," VC's "A Thousand Miles"). Since then, though, the piano-plinking Carlton has revealed herself to be more like an Alanis Morissette with naughty dreams -- or at least a Fiona Apple with dangerous curves. On her upcoming sophomore disc, "Harmonium," the 24-year-old has reportedly added deep thinking to the mix, and she's also moved from dopey boys to wounded men. Branch has gone the way of Meredith Brooks (who?!), but Carlton is still one to watch.
-- Sean Daly
At the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. $17.50. Call 703-549-7500 or visit www.birchmere.com.
OTHER DANCE COMPANIES may put ancient ritual onstage, but Australia's Bangarra Dance Theatre goes a step further. Its newest work, "Bush," springs from dances that are believed to be as old as human life itself. The 75-minute work, which blends modern dance and indigenous traditions, draws on aboriginal creation stories and, according to Artistic Director Stephen Page, "embraces all the inspirations that come from living from the land."
-- Sarah Kaufman
At the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater. Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. $14-$38. Call 202-467-4600 or visit www.kennedy-center.org.