Are the arts accessible in DC?

The word accessible can be defined in several ways when it comes to the arts. It can relate to ticket price, venue location and also to the work’s mass appeal. No matter what your definition entails, how to make the arts accessible continues to be a topic of discussion. So let me ask you this, are the arts accessible in DC? I think so.

Not only can you stroll through any of the Smithsonian museums for free, but you can also find a number of arts related activities for little to no cost (check out the Free in DC blog or Pink Line Project). If that’s not enough for you, here’s a recap of three different dance performances I attended within the last few weeks. Tickets for each show were less than $30 and all were within walking distance from my apartment.

Thursday, March 24th – Contradiction Dance at The Phillips Collection ($20)

The Phillips Collection

Contradiction Dance (photo credit: James R. Brantley)

Artistic Director Kelly Mayfield choreographed a work based on the modern and contemporary art museum’s show David Smith Invents. I was really hoping the dancers would be performing in and around the exhibit, but the piece was presented in the auditorium of the museum. The dancers incorporated shapes inspired by Smith’s sculptures into the choreography. They also included spoken word based on their personal reactions to his work. The verbal responses were a hit with the audience not only because they were comical, but because they were true. Who hasn’t been to an art exhibition and thought, “I could do that!” or “Have I looked at this piece long enough so that people think I’m thinking deep thoughts?”

Tuesday, April 5th – Bettmann Dances, Nancy Havlik’s Dance Performance Group and Micheline Heal and Dancers at Warehouse Theater ($20)

Three local dance companies came together to put on a show at Warehouse Theater. This was my first time at the venue, so I was excited to find out that it’s located in the back of The Passenger bar. Warehouse Theater is a small black box theater steps away from the Mount Vernon Square/7th Street-Convention Center Metro stop. The show featured an improvisation directed by Nancy Havlik that included all the performers, as well as two pieces each from Bettmann Dances and Havlik’s Dance Performance Group. My favorite piece was performed by Micheline Heal and Dancers. It featured three dancers cloaked in white fabric. Their elongated sleeves acted like ribbon dancers creating interesting movement across the stage.

Sunday, April 10th – New York City Ballet at The Kennedy Center ($29)

New York City Ballet

New York City Ballet (photo credit: Paul Kolnik)

The Kennedy Center Opera House is a grandiose space covered in red velvet and gold details. Surprisingly for $29, I was still able to get seats in the Orchestra section. Travelzoo had a great deal specifically for the show. New York City Ballet went for simplicity during their black and white week. There was no extravagant set and dancers wore plain, black and white costumes. The only dash of color was during the final piece when three ballerinas wore different shades of pink. Apollo, the oldest George Balanchine ballet in New York City Ballet’s repertory, was my favorite part of the performance. It showed that ballet doesn’t have to take itself too seriously with playful interaction among the four dancers.

How do you define accessibility? Do you think the arts are accessible in DC? Why or why not?

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