The Arts

Ailey Dance Company’s 60th

If there is such a thing as “blood memory,” as the late choreographer and company founder Alvin Ailey seemed to think, then it would be an impressionistic thing in the extreme. It wouldn’t tell stories with developed characters. It wouldn’t complete thoughts with explicit meanings or messages. It would suggest and evoke, tease and evade.…

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The Delights of ABT’s ‘Harlequinade’

One of the final works of tsarist Russia’s golden boy Marius Petipa, Harlequinade is dance without a dark side – no lovers dying bestride a tomb, no curses from centuries past, no personalities split into white for good and black for evil. Indeed, it’s intriguing to ponder how many things that were feared within a…

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It’s Always Sunny

I’ve often wondered what was wrong with Sunny Randall. Having starred in no fewer than six crime novels by the late “dean of American crime fiction” Robert B. Parker, how had Sunny somehow become chopped liver after his sudden death at his writing desk in 2010? No, not Sonny Randall, the NFL quarterback that some…

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Emily’s 132nd Birthday

Emily Dickinson, considered by some America’s greatest poet, invites us in every line to gaze at her life “through a glass, darkly” far more than “face to face.” Despite the perfection of her phrases and the unexpectedness of her vision, she seems destined to leave us all wondering what experiences gave voice to such unique…

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Ballet West’s ‘Nutcracker’

‘Tis the season for Nutcrackers. And in the nation’s capital, that means Washington Ballet is installed for an extended run at the Warner Theater. In cities large and small across America, however, there’s at least anecdotal evidence that the local ballet company pays for the rest of its season with ticket revenues from the Tchaikovsky…

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Review: ‘Beautiful’

It’s as though the creators of Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, the touring production that opened last night at Washington’s National Theatre, didn’t exactly set out to celebrate one gifted songwriter along with two decades of American pop culture, the civil rights movement and women’s quest for meaning and equality. It just sort of worked…

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Tragedy & Transcendance

If you go to the cinema over Thanksgiving weekend and watch two current-release movies, the “compares” are as numerous as you choose to recognize. Both films cover the late careers of two gifted yet troubled artists who died far too young – describing their efforts to find fame with artistic integrity, their risings and fallings…

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Review: ‘Silent Night’

One hundred years ago today – at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – what we know as World War I came to an end, with tens of millions of soldiers and civilians dead and the Old World of Europe in tatters. In his opera Silent Night, composer Kevin Puts…

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WNO’s ‘Silent Night’

On the night before Armistice Day – which, of course, gets swallowed up by Veterans Day in the United States – Washington National Opera presents an opera about one half-remembered moment during a war that ended with ringing church bells a full century ago this year. Yet if composer Kevin Puts has his way, and…

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Richard Ford @ The Folger

Eudora Welty, whose closely observed, very Southern fiction included the 1973 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Optimist’s Daughter and the much-read-in-schools short story “Why I Live at the P.O.,” barely ventured outside her own neighborhood in Jackson, Miss. Today, her home is a National Historic Landmark that’s open for tours. And if you ask anyone in…

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