The Washington Ballet will assemblé this season, ready to launch an extensive calendar of classes, exhibitions and events as winter in D.C. gives way to cherry-blossoming spring. “Dance For All” is a “community engagement initiative that brings the joy and artistry of dance to every quadrant in D.C. through free performances, demonstrations and dance classes,” according to the company’s website. There’s something for everyone on their registry of events, from trained ballerinas to interested onlookers. And with supportive backing from institutions like Capital One Hall, CityCenter DC, the Hirshhorn and DC Public Library, the events range from fantastical to educational and everything in between.
The season-wide celebration and free events are all a part of TWB’s core values: community engagement and involvement. They note such occasions as intrinsic to their mission to bring the joy and artistry of dance to the nation’s capital, something they’ve been doing since 1976 — and under the artistic directorship of Julie Kent since 2016.
The Washington Ballet is keenly aware of D.C.’s cultural heritage, and refuses to shirk the responsibility of serving it. Celebrations of D.C.’s history, diversity and vibrant culture are the sentiment behind their event calendar, wrapped up neatly in engaging and educational opportunities.
One such event will be a book signing and panel discussion with TWB dancer Ashley Murphy-Wilson for “Dance Theatre of Harlem: A History, A Movement, A Celebration.” Wilson is in her sixth season with TWB, after a 13-year streak with Dance Theatre of Harlem. The following panel will discuss diversity in ballet, a dance discipline that has long since shut out BIPOC dancers and D.C.’s own cultural histories. Sponsorship by the Sakura Matsuri Festival will contribute to a performance of “Rising Sun Ballet” on Capital Stage, blending elements of traditional Japanese kabuki and ballet.
Though unafraid to take the harder discussions en pointe, many of TWB’s spring Dance For All events are also geared toward the joys of dance and movement, encouraging people’s natural curiosity. A series of library activations across the wards will provide one-on-one learning with dancers. The Meet A Dancer lecture and demonstration is an opportunity for students to meet a professional ballet dancer in costume, learn about classical ballet and what it’s like to be a professional dancer and observe a short movement demo, as well as learn a dancer’s unique story of their profession.
Another activation will feature famous literature about ballet, with interactive creative movement to pantomime the story. And perhaps most whimsical of them all, the Hirshhorn will sport a kids’ art cart, encouraging children to invent and build an instrument of their own.
Activities are as much geared toward an adult crowd as they are a younger one. Free beginner ballet classes, adult stretching and strengthening and even a barre and brunch pop-up will be scattered throughout the city for your enjoyment. Families can spend an afternoon enjoying a family ballet class and ballet rap.
Each event, activity and performance seeks to foster genuine interest in and engagement with the arts, all while bringing D.C. residents out of their homes after a long winter and back into the shining sun.
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