Cultural vibrancy and exemplary artistry from world-class companies and artists will grace the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ stages during its 2022–2023 ballet and dance season. A season displaying a wide spectrum of movement-based arts will intrigue audiences with literary and contemporary narratives, deep explorations of the intersection of dance and technology, and the celebration of diverse backgrounds, well-known historical figures, and a range of cultural traditions. Subscriptions for the 2022–2023 season are now available here or by calling (202) 416-8500.
“Audiences will be immersed in the innate rhythms and cadences of movement through the extraordinary scope of preeminent choreographers from across the globe during this season.” said Alicia Adams, Vice President of Dance and International Programming. “As we look beyond the 50th Anniversary of the Kennedy Center, the dance season continues to build upon its legacy of presenting a dynamic range of diverse companies and artists. We are also elated to be co-commissioners on a new work, and for the first time, to present one of Canada’s leading contemporary Indigenous dance companies.”
“This season we strive to go beyond the purely traditional and expand our understanding of ballet in a three-fold way,” stated Jane Rabinovitz, Director of Dance Programming. “We hope our audiences will appreciate the variety of offerings on display this season and will take notice of a wider array of ballet aesthetics from contemporary to classical and an expansion of our ballet cannon through the presentation of new literary stories. As we aim to highlight works from a larger pool of companies from across more regions of the United States and Europe, we look forward to sharing these innovative works with audiences in our Opera House and Eisenhower Theater.”
Kicking off the contemporary (once known as modern dance) series, Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan performs “13 Tongues,” based on a legendary street artist in Taipei’s oldest district. My first encounter with Cloud Gate took place at a Hong Kong dance festival in the late ‘80s. I was mesmerized with the mysticism of the work, choreographed by its founding director Lin Hoai-min with combined themes of mythology and folklore.
Cheng Tsung-lung now directs Cloud Gate, billed as “the first contemporary dance company in any Chinese-speaking community.” Expect fantasy galore from this marvelous troupe, whether you call it contemporary, modern, or futuristic at the Center’s Eisenhower Theater, October 20-22, 2022.
Next up is Mark Morris, the marvelous master of musicality, a trait that few choreographers have managed to achieve, George Balanchine, the exception. Some might remember Morris at the Merriweather Post Pavilion during a summer Columbia Festival when he performed a hillbilly ballet with his friend Mikhail Baryshnikov watching every move. The Mark Morris Dance Group performs a new work set to composer/songwriter Burt Bacharach, again in the Eisenhower Theater, October 26-29, 2022. “The Look of Love” promises mirth and merriment from this dance master.
There’s a certain fresh, uninhibited and politically inspired way of dancing that only Europeans manage to pull off. It came into being in the 1960s and continues to crop up now and then, especially in dance performances by the Dutch, Germans and French. For its Kennedy Center debut, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo presents “Cendrillon” on the Opera House stage, November 17-20, 2022. Forget the kids’ version of this take on “Cinderella.” This company is vibrant and sexy.
Meanwhile, France’s Compagnie Käfig returns to merge elements of hip hop with modern dance, circus, and digital arts. With its precision, energy and speed, this company wowed us at Jacob’s Pillow a few years ago. If you are a fan of laser and lights and futuristic movement, set to Brazilian music, “Pixel” is a worthy work of art, at the Center’s Eisenhower Theater, August 30-September 1, 2023.
We had the good fortune to watch Scotland’s national dance company in a mini-workshop rehearsal at Jacob’s Pillow pre-Covid. The Scottish Ballet tackles Arthur Miller’s classic play about the Salem witch trials to a staged ballet. There’s a vibrancy in the dancing that you expect from the Celtic traditions. The East Coast premiere takes place at the Kennedy Center, May 24-28, 2023.
Curious about Red Sky Performance, and its dance fusion of athleticism, music and film with a theme of indigenous people and nature? Lots to celebrate here with its debut at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater March 2-4, 2023.
Fans of Eva “Evita” Peron will appreciate Ballet Hispanico in “Dona Peron” at the Kennedy Center November 30, 2022-December 3, 2023. Explosive dance and brilliant choreography by Annabelle Lopez Ochos, Ballet Flamenco Sara Baras demonstrates that same verve and vitality in her solos, performing at the Kennedy Center March 29-30, 2023.
Kansas City Ballet has been chosen to perform the Kennedy Center’s annual “Nutcracker” over the Thanksgiving holiday, November 23-27, 2022. All major American ballet companies have danced fine productions, each with a touch of their home states. Who can resist the beauty of the snowflakes dancing, the Christmas tree growing in front of the wide-eyed children (chosen from local dance studios). Often these visiting dance companies need adults to fill the stage. Check the website for details on when and where the auditions take place.
Hurrah! The National Ballet of China is back at the Kennedy Center, February 1-5, 2023. Nothing quite compares to its memorable “Raise the Red Lantern,” seen twice at the Kennedy Center over the past two decades. With its blend of western ballet and Chinese cultural dance, we can expect a fusion of traditions—this time with its adaptation of “The Nutcracker.”Hmmm!
The Joffrey Ballet from Chicago brought its Victorian, picture-postcard version of “The Nutcracker” to the Kennedy Center a few years ago, and it was a huge success. Mainly because this popular dance company has performed throughout the Baltimore-Washington corridor to adoring fans. My favorite Joffrey work was the re-construction of “Sacre du Printemps,” under the watchful eye of founder Robert Joffrey—or perhaps it was “Astarte,” the first multi-media ballet.
We have to wait until spring to see The Joffrey Ballet in a new version of “Anna Karenina,” based on Leo Tolstoy’s heroine, April 5-9, 2023. Check out the master classes offered by company dancers and open rehearsals, on the website here.
The New York City Ballet still reigns as topnotch and not-to-be-missed. With a program of works from George Balanchine (who founded the company) to Justin Peck (who choreographed the 2022 film version of “West Side Story), NYCB presents its roster of young, talented choreographers along with familiar favorites by the master, Mr. B, June 6-11, 2023. If you can’t wait until next year, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” will be danced by NYCB June 9-12, 2022.
Meanwhile, check out “Visionary Voices” with works by today’s outstanding choreographers, including Justin Peck, one of the hottest artists around, in that same Opera House, Tuesday, June 7, 2022. Or take a ballet class led by the City dancers. Meet in the Hall of Nations Monday, June 6, 2022 at 7 p.m.
American Ballet Theatre, that other New York City star-studded dance company, once had its home at the Kennedy Center. Today, the company tours regularly in DC, last performing “Don Quixote” on the Opera House stage to rave reviews. Look for the company’s return with the romantic classic, “Romeo and Juliet,” February 15-19, 2023.
If you have never experienced the joy of “Revelations,” performed by the beloved Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, hurry to get tickets for the annual love fest at the Kennedy Center Opera House February 7-12, 2023. With its soulful spirituals to guide the dancers, this work closes every program and the audience often demands an encore.
National Dance Day takes place on the third Saturday in September, and this year the location is the Reach on the Kennedy Center campus, Saturday, September 17, 2022. Put on your dancing shoes and join your fellow thespians for a fun day of entertainment and participation. It’s a hoot for all ages.