January 27, 2011 at 11:39 am EST | by Staff reports
Arts news in brief: Jan. 28

Mark Morris Dance Company (Photo courtesy of the company)

Gay-helmed dance company at George Mason next weekend

He is the dancing world’s strapping bad boy, with a fullback’s girth and at 6 feet, 2 inches tall, he towers over many other dancers, though these days he is now largely retired from performing. And he has been called by Time Magazine “the most prodigiously gifted choreographer of the post-Balanchine era.”

He is 54-year-old Mark Morris, founder and still chieftain of the world-renowned Mark Morris Dance Group, now in its 30th year during a 17-month-long anniversary season touring to 20 cities including the D.C. area on Feb. 5 and 6, in performances and discussions at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.

Morris, who is gay, was born in Seattle in 1956, and at the age of 16, after graduating early from high school, traveled to Spain where, at the time, he felt he was destined to be a flamenco dancer. But because of the fascist repression of the Franco regime, he returned to the U.S. and in 1976 began living with other artists in a loft in Hoboken, N.J., and performing in New York City.

In 1980, with a collection of friends, he staged a concert of his own choreography and called them the Mark Morris Dance Group. Since then, he has worked with Mikhail Baryshnikov to found the White Oak Dance Project and has been much in demand as a ballet choreographer, most notably with the San Francisco Ballet, and for staging operas for the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. In 2001, his company moved into its first permanent headquarters, the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn.

Open about his sexual orientation, Morris has been outspoken also on the topic of marriage equality, though he chooses to call gay marriage “queer marriage.”

“We have been coming to Fairfax many years,” says Morris, who looks to the D.C. area for its “steady and devoted audience for what we do.”

This includes his plan to perform the D.C.-area premiere of “Petrichor,” set to the music of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos, which first premiered in Boston in 2010. The company will also perform three classical works from the Morris repertory — 1990’s “Going Away Party,” set to music by Bob Willis and His Texas Playboys; 1999’s “Silhouettes,” set to music by Richard Cumming; and 2008’s “Excursions,” set to music by 20th century gay American composer Samuel Barber.

Performances are at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 4 and 5, at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts at its campus, at the intersection of Braddock Road and Route 123, in Fairfax City, Va. Tickets are $22, $36 and $44, by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit www.cfa.gmu.edu.                       — David Hoffman

Alvin Ailey dance company celebrates 50th at Kennedy Center

The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater is celebrating its 50th anniversary with seven performances at the Kennedy Center (2700 F St., N.W.) starting Tuesday. It’s named after the choreographer, a gay groundbreaker in his field who died of AIDS in 1989.

All of the group’s performances will include “Revelations,” a tribute to Ailey’s African-American heritage that uses traditional spirituals to explore the places of “deepest grief and holiest joy in the human soul,” as their promo material states.

On Tuesday at 7 p.m., Feb. 4 at 7:30 p.m. and Feb. 5 at 1:30 p.m., the company will be performing “Anointed,” “Cry and the Hunt” in addition to “Revelations.”

On Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m.,, the company will perform “Night Creature,” “The Evolution of a Secured Feminine” and the “Prodigal Prince” as well as “Revelations.”

The second performance on Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. and the Feb. 6 performance at 1:30 p.m. will include “Three Black Kings,” “In/Side” and “Forgotten Time.”

On Feb. 5 after the matinee, there will be a free post-performance discussion with a moderator and members of the company.

Tickets range from $30 to $99 and can be purchased online at kennedy-center.org. — David Hoffman

Show tunes and cocktails continue at the Jefferson

After its kick off in December, “Show Tunes and Cocktails at the Jefferson” continues as a monthly sing-along in the Jefferson’s Quill Bar (1200 16th St., N.W.) Monday from 7 to 10 p.m.

Orchestra leader Glenn Pearson, a Helen Hayes Board member, will be playing the piano “to encourage everyone in attendance to shed their inhibitions” and sing.

“For many years, following our annual October benefit, several guests stayed and broke into an impromptu gathering to sing show tunes around the piano with [Pearson],” says Linda Levy Grossman, Helen Hayes President and CEO said in a press release for the event. “Now it’s become a signature part of the evening.”

Specialty cocktails and featured appetizers will be available and attendees will have an opportunity to win Washington Theatre TixCertificates (flexible $20 gift certificates redeemable at almost 50 theaters throughout D.C.).

The Jefferson is donating 20 percent of the proceeds to support the Helen Hayes organization.

Admission is free and discounted parking is available with validation. — Juliette Ebner

Drag queen contest for ‘real’ women to be held

A contest for women born as biologically female but with drag sensibilities will be held Sunday at Ziegfeld’s at 3 p.m.

The Imperial Court of Washington is hosting Miss Faux Queen, an event modeled after female impersonation contests and a similar pageant that was held in San Francisco in the ’90s. There will be four categories — interview, international costume, interview and talent.

Contestants will dress similarly to drag queens with padding, wigs, makeup and more. All contestants will have a “drag mother” to guide them. Miss Faux Queen International is for in-town contestants while the “national” event is for out-of-town participants.

Admission is $20. Ziegfeld’s is at 1824 Half Street, S.W. Doors open at 2. For more information, e-mail to emperorjohnrichard@gmail.com.

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