Dance Performances at The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

It’s hard to believe, but I’ve never been to the Kennedy Center until this past week. Two free dance performances brought me to the performing arts center’s Millennium Stage. Monday, October 11th the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and The DeVos Institute at the Kennedy Center presented US Department of State International Hip Hop Dancers and Friday, October 15th I was in the front row for Angella Foster’s ‘Speechless’ performed by her company alight dance theater.

Monday’s Hip Hop Dance Ambassadors featured eight dancers from Ecuador, Burma, Uganda, Turkey, Bolivia, Pakistan, India and Zimbabwe. I got there 20 minutes before the performance at 6pm and had to settle for a seat in the second to last row. I could barely see anything from where I was sitting, but it didn’t seem like I missed much. Only one dancer – Min Htun of Burma – really held my attention and my favorite part of the show was the message at the end.

Each dancer did a solo and took the mic to share what hip hop meant to them. Hip hop is family. Hip hop is my passion. Hip hop is whatever you want it to be. Hip hop is a universal language. It was encouraging to hear that dance played an important part in their lives and also that dance plays an integral role in cross cultural understanding.

Friday, I decided to get to the Millennium Stage as early as possible. I got there around 5:25pm and there were already people in line. I lucked out with a seat in the front row, but the place quickly filled up. I was excited to see Angella Foster’s ‘Speechless’ – a 2010 local dance commissioning project premiere. The piece weaved together the story of four families who care for special needs children who cannot speak. One of the stories was actually Foster’s personal story about her cousin Taylor who was sitting in the row behind me.

The piece began with a beautiful overture played by a female string quartet, followed by a video of each family introducing themselves and their story. Throughout the piece, dancers performed to music from the quartet, videos or audio of the families, Foster speaking directly to the audience about her cousin Taylor or a combination of the different elements. This mix of media, along with Foster’s innovative choreography, created an inspiring work that moved many to tears. I was surprised that the crowd didn’t give more love during the final bow, but perhaps they were ‘speechless’ themselves.

If you’re interested in seeing a free show at the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage, you’re in luck. They have them every day of the year and also do a live webcast on their site. Here are some of the upcoming dance performances for the month of October. All start at 6pm:

Thursday, October 21st and Friday, October 22nd Local Dance Commissioning Project: Affectations – This multimedia collaboration between Dance Box Theater directors Laura Schandelmeier and Stephen Clapp, installation artists Lorne Covington, and composer James Harkins is guided by the premise that ‘order will eventually emerge from chaos.’

Tuesday, October 26th ‘Beyond Dancing’ – Modern and hip hop dancers Michal Rynia and Nastja Bremec of Slovenia’s M&N Dance Company present a performance and workshop that gives audiences a chance to learn the steps they see.

Thursday, October 28th and Friday, October 29th Local Dance Commissioning Project: what R U missing? – For this audience commission project, choreographer Mary Lane solicited input (stories and personal experiences, concepts, themes, and inquiries) through various social media forums to assist in the artistic process of creating a new dance work.

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About Cecile
Cecile Oreste is an arts marketing and public relations professional living in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @cecileoreste.

3 Responses to Dance Performances at The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage

  1. Thanks so much for writing about Speechless. It was such an amazing experience to perform at particular work at the Kennedy Center. And, you’re right. The audience was a bit subdued after wards, but I think is just that kind of piece. I hope people will come out and support the rest of the dance happening on the Millennium Stage this month! Lots of good stuff…

  2. Pingback: alight dance theater presents Speechless at Dance Place « danceDC

  3. Pingback: Shared Graduate Dance Concert at CSPAC « danceDC

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