New works, old favorites fill dance card

September 07, 2000|By Jane Murray | Jane Murray,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Who says dance has reached a dead end? The 2000-2001 Dance Calendar offers enough world class companies, premieres, and new (to us) foreign companies to satisfy dance connoisseurs.

And one season highlight begins this weekend: the Kennedy Center in Washington is hosting an unprecedented Balanchine Celebration Sept. 12-24. The event will feature 14 of George Balanchine's masterworks performed by six acclaimed companies: The Bolshoi Ballet, The Miami City Ballet, The Pennsylvania Ballet, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, and The San Francisco Ballet.

And that's just the first two weeks. The Kennedy Center season reads like an audience's wish-list:

England's Royal Ballet devotes a week of performances to the great English choreographer, Sir Frederick Ashton, including his monumental "Symphonic Variations." American Ballet Theatre visits twice - in December with "The Nutcracker," and in the Spring with "The Sleeping Beauty."

The modern dance season includes visits by such perennial favorites as the always unconventional Pilobolus Dance Theater; Twyla Tharp Dance stepping out to a newly commissioned jazz score by composer Donald Knaack, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, the wildly popular Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre plus Washington-area debuts by three foreign ensembles: the Japanese butoh troupe Dairakudakan, Argentina's Brenda Angiel dance company and Josef Nadj's Paris-based dance theater group.

But all the excitement won't be provided by visitors. The District's resident troupe, the Washington Ballet, salutes American jazz with Septime Webre's "The Jazz/Blues Project" accompanied by the Howard University Jazz Ensemble.

There also will be intriguing performances closer to home.

Ballet Theatre of Maryland (formerly of Annapolis), plans a busy season that features a 20th Anniversary Gala with a new Gershwin ballet and guest artists from New York City Ballet. A full-length "Cinderella" highlights the spring bill.

And it's always worth renewing acquaintance with such local stalwarts as Eva Anderson Dance, Nancy Romita and The Moving Company, and the early dance ensemble, Choregraphie Antique.

Finally, there are literally dozens of Nutcrackers to choose from. While not as elaborate as the ABT Kennedy Opera House version, they're folksy and traditional enough to provide a holiday treat. Keep an eye out for Lisa deRebere's street-smart concoction at Baltimore School for the Arts, the dancy Ballet Theatre of Maryland Christmas treat and, not without its charms, the By Kids For Kids "Nutcracker" by Baltimore County Youth Ballet.

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