by Ashley David
As a native of Maryland and a dancer since the age of three, I am certainly not a newbie when it comes to going to seeing dance performances in the area—especially Washington D.C. However, D.C. is not always the first city to be regarded as a hub for dance in the U.S. While I beg to differ, I can see how high profile cities such as New York or Los Angeles steal the dancing spotlight. With that said, one performance in early May changed mine, and I’m sure many other D.C. dance viewers’ opinions on what D.C. can bring to the table for the dancing world.
This incredible show was The DREAM Celebration, held in the Historic Lincoln Theatre on Saturday, May 4 and Sunday, May 5, 2013. Presented by CityDance, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and co-produced by Rasta Thomas, the program delivered sought after, high quality professional talents from around the nation. Above all, the show was a benefit for CityDance’s DREAM program, which provides free after-school programming to hundreds of D.C. elementary school students. A 2013 Finalist for the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, the CityDance DREAM program has been established for eight years and is expanding to the critical middle and high school years to provide more serious training and performance opportunities for students interested in continuing their dance education. CityDance even took the DREAM students on a field trip to see the Saturday night show and invited them on stage to perform as the finale.
Their performance came after such artists and companies as Rasta Thomas (Bad Boys of Dance), tap sensation Dorrance Dance (2013 Jacob’s Pillow Dance Award Winner), Clifton Brown (Lar Lubovitch) and Michaela DePrince (Dance Theatre of Harlem). The list most certainly does not end there as the Lombard Twins, Cartier Williams and Adrienne Canterna all performed, as well as dancers from American Ballet Theatre, Lar Lubovitch, the Orlando Ballet, Washington Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, KGP and Ballet X. In addition, CityDance again incorporated its own students into the show through two performances from CityDance Conservatory students. The first, Youth America Grand Prix 2012 Philadelphia Semi-Finals Junior Grand Prix Winner, Larisa Nugent, wowed the audience with Aurora Variation from Sleeping Beauty. Next, CityDance Conservatory Students turned up the energy with Carnaval, choreographed by emerging D.C. artist and CityDance Faculty, Robert J. Priore (Company E).
In a recent Huffington Post article by Caroline Gerdes, CityDance Executive Director Alexe Nowakowski hits the nail on the head when she states, “I don’t know of any other events in recent history where we had this many dance artists of this caliber in Washington, D.C. this accessible and affordable.” While I did of course feel blown away by the DREAM Celebration, my favorite moments were when non-dance audience members expressed the same sentiments. The lobby was abuzz after the show with many people in awe of the talented dancers and performers and as far as I could hear, not a bad comment was said.
Bravo to CityDance for conceptualizing this performance as well as to the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities and Rasta Thomas for their support. If you are in the D.C. area anytime this year, look out for an anticipated 2013-2014 performance season through a partnership between CityDance OnStage and Washington Performing Arts Society. Companies such as Dance Theatre of Harlem, Koresh Dance Company and Momix are scheduled to perform!