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Music & Concerts

Out ballet dancer enjoys ‘diverse array of work’

Daniel Roberge balances artistic drive, clean credit score over eight years in D.C.



Daniel Roberge, gay news, Washington Blade

Daniel Roberge says Washington has been a good fit for him artistically and personally. (Photo by Eduardo Patino)

Daniel Roberge was acting, singing and dancing in his native Australia when he was still a little boy. But at 16, he unwittingly embarked on a career when he began classical ballet training in Newcastle, his hometown.

Within a year he was successfully competing in international ballet competitions and after several additional years of training, he relocated to Washington where he’s a company dancer with The Washington Ballet. He’ll be featured in its upcoming productions “The Washington Ballet Welcomes,” “Contemporary Masters” and the annual six-week run of “The Nutcracker” followed by “The Sleeping Beauty.”

During off-season from the ballet, Roberge, 27, takes on other dancing gigs. In June he was part of Chamber Dance Project’s stunning program “Ballet, Chant & Song” at Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Lansburgh Theatre. Chamber Dance Project’s founder and artistic director Diane Coburn Bruning says Roberge is all about “clarity and commitment. He’s a hardworking dancer who doesn’t know how to give anything less than 110 percent. He’s also a lot of fun.”

“Chant,” an especially beautiful new piece in the luminous program which Bruning describes as a visceral sculpture of sound and movement, featured hauntingly sublime chanters and insanely agile ballet dancers including Roberge and two other strong male dancers clad only in long skirts.

At the post performance party at trendy Hotel Monaco, a rapt female admirer recommended Roberge always dance shirtless.

Recently Roberge, speaking via phone directly from the beach at gay hotspot Fire Island Pines, New York, addressed the idea of dancing shirtless and other facets of a dancer’s life.

WASHINGTON BLADE: So how about dancing shirtless?

DANIEL ROBERGE: With the amount of work we put into it, why not let the people see that? It’s nice to see how muscles ripple — it’s the cause and effect of movement. That shows best when you’re shirtless or in tights.

BLADE: And what brought you to DC, rather than, say, New York City with all its dance companies?

ROBERGE: The Washington Ballet. It struck me as a good fit. I liked their diverse array of work. I knew I’d be able to use my background in jazz and musical theater. I didn’t know much about the town. That came later. I was excited about work and fell in love with the city afterward. In my travels I’m always an advocate for the city. Subsequently I’ve found many opportunities here including doing an ad campaign for D.C.’s City Center. For right now my career is just where I’d like it to be.

BLADE:  And do you have a favorite ballet?

ROBERGE: I like doing anything that makes me feel good whether that means the process or the music. I do what I do because I love it. That’s the only way I can put it. Each piece is unique. I feel different things for different pieces. I love contemporary work and I love classical ballet too although it can be a little rigid sometimes. Working on Chamber Dance Project’s “Chant” allowed us all to bring what we have to the table. And when you do that it doesn’t feel like work.

BLADE: As a kid you did musical theater. Have you brought that to Washington Ballet?

ROBERGE: Yes, though I was never a principal actor, I love doing non-dancing character roles in ballet. I’m comfortable doing it and I’m good at it. I received very good reviews for playing Bottom en pointe in … “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and for tapping in another of our ballets.  I’m a versatile dancer and performer for sure.

BLADE: And when you’re not working?

ROBERGE: My partner and I travel a lot. He’s a Midwesterner who works in medical education. Before he met me he’d never been to a ballet. We’re different but I’ve exposed him to the arts. It’s changed him. I’ve learned a lot from him too. Also, I’m working on a liberal arts degree. It’s been interesting because as dancers we start our professional careers so early, we don’t have a lot of time for university.

BLADE: Is it difficult being on the other side of the world from your native country?

ROBERGE: I came to the U.S. with dual citizenship and the money I’d won at a ballet competition in 2009 in Singapore. And with that I made it work. When I reflect on the last eight years, I think about how far I’ve come. I have a good credit score and a savings account. And most importantly I’ve learned from other people’s mistakes. I’ve seen people get into debt, spiral out of control on drugs and other things. Things could have gone very differently for me. Also, I came out young. Basically, I’ve always been out. And my parents have been fine with it. I’ve never had to overcompensate for that. And I think that’s helped a lot to build the confidence that I have today.


Music & Concerts

The Atlantis to showcase musical legends of tomorrow

New venue, a near replica of original 9:30 Club, opens next month



A look at the interior of the original 9:30 club. (Photo public domain/Library of Congress)

A new nirvana for music fans opens next month adjacent to the 9:30 Club. Dubbed The Atlantis, this intimate venue embraces a 450-person capacity – and pays homage as a near-replica of the original 9:30 Club.

The $10 million venue comes courtesy of I.M.P., the independent promoter that owns and operates the 9:30 Club and The Anthem, and operates The Lincoln Theatre and Merriweather Post Pavilion.

The Foo Fighters will inaugurate The Atlantis on May 30, which is also the 9:30 Club’s anniversary. Foo Fighters lead singer Dave Grohl, during a concert in 2021, kicked off speculation that I.M.P was planning to open a new venue, noting that, “We’ll probably be the band that opens that place, too, right?”

Other big names on the inaugural 44-show run roster: Franz Ferdinand, Barenaked Ladies, Third Eye Blind, Spoon, and Billy Idol.

To thwart scalpers, The Atlantis utilized a request system for the first 44 shows when they went on sale two weeks ago. Within four days of the announcement, fans had requested more than 520,000 tickets, many times more than the total 19,800 available. All tickets have been allocated; fans who were unable to snag tickets can attempt to do so in May, when a fan-to-fan ticket exchange opens.

While I.M.P. oversees multiple larger venues, “We’ve been doing our smallest shows in other peoples’ venues for too many years now,” said Seth Hurwitz, chairman of I.M.P. “We needed a place that’s ours. This can be the most exciting step in an artist’s career.”

The 9:30 Club holds 1,200 people, while The Anthem has space for up to 6,000.

“This will be where we help introduce new artists to the world… our smallest venue will be treated as important, if not more, than our bigger venues. If the stories are told right, both the artists and the fans begin their hopefully longterm relationship. Its stage will support bourgeoning artists and the legends of tomorrow,” Hurwitz said. Hurwitz and the team developed a tagline for the new venue: The Atlantis, Where Music Begins.

Hurwitz got his start at the original 9:30 Club, originally located at 930 F St., N.W. He was an independent booker of the club for the first six years and then he bought it, and managed the move from its original location to its current location in 1996. The venue first opened in 1980.

Audrey Fix Schaefer, I.M.P. communications director, provides further insight. “We were missing small venues in our umbrella. Big acts don’t start in stadiums. We need a place for emerging artists and for the community to discover new acts. The Atlantis can help new artists grow.”

While design elements are still coming into focus, Schaefer says that the space will be intimate, with almost no separation between the artist and the crowd. “There will be energy on both sides of the stage,” she says.

Although The Atlantis is set to be a replica of the original 9:30, I.M.P. has spared no expense. Schaefer notes that the sound and light systems use the latest available technologies, similar to next door at the current 9:30 Club.

The Atlantis takes over the footprint of now-closed Satellite Room. The venue will have at least two bars flanking the stage; cocktails but no food will be available.

Schaefer notes that since its early days, 9:30 Club and I.M.P. “has always been a place where people are welcome. People come and feel safe with us.” 9:30 Club has hosted several LGBTQ Pride parties, the BENT dance party series, and other events for LGBTQ patrons. Particular acts of note during the kickoff run include Tegan & Sarah and Tove Lo.

The Washington Blade was a neighbor to the 9:30 Club at its original F Street location back in the 1980s. Despite their proximity, noise wasn’t an issue for on deadline nights, when Blade staff worked late hours.

“We would of course work later hours back then,” said Phil Rockstroh, a longtime Blade staffer, in a 2016 Blade interview. “Everything was typeset and done by hand without computers and fax machines so getting through deadlines was much more time consuming.”

Rockstroh said the noise wasn’t a distraction.

“It wasn’t too bad as older buildings were constructed more solidly,” Rockstroh said. “There was only one entrance to the building and you entered so far to the elevator that went up to the other floors and then continued down the hall to the entrance to the 9:30 Club. Frequently at night if I was coming or going, there were people spilling out the doors.”

“The Blade has always had a friendly relationship with the 9:30 Club,” he added.

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Music & Concerts

National Philharmonic to perform classical, contemporary works

Violinist Melissa White returns



The National Philharmonic will host “Beethoven’s 7th” on Saturday, April 15 at 8 p.m. at Strathmore.

Past and present will collide in this performance of contemporary works and classical masterpieces. Maestro Piotr Gajewski will direct Valerie Coleman’s “Umoja, Anthem for Unity for Orchestra” Violinist Melissa White will also return to the Philharmonic to perform Florence Price’s sweeping, melodic “Violin Concerto No. 2.”

Tickets start at $19 and can be purchased on the Philharmonic’s website.

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Music & Concerts

Bruce & Janet & John Legend, oh my!

Slew of iconic acts hitting the road after pandemic cancellations



Janet Jackson is among the iconic acts touring this spring.

Pop and rock icons are releasing their pent-up pandemic frustrations by mounting huge tours this spring and summer. After three years of canceled and postponed shows, everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Janet Jackson is hitting the road at long last. But save your coins because the TicketMaster algorithms are driving ticket prices to astronomical highs. Here are a few highlights from D.C.-area venues this spring. Although some of the iconic acts aren’t coming until summer — Beyonce, Madonna, Pink — several others are hitting the road this spring.

Betty Who plays March 10; Keyshia Cole headlines the All Black Extravaganza 20 Year Anniversary tour on March 18; the Yeah Yeah Yeahs come to town on May 3; Seal brings his world tour to town on May 10; and the beloved Pixies are back on the road with a new North American tour stopping here on June 10.

9:30 CLUB
Don’t miss Gimme Gimme Disco, an Abba dance party on March 18; Inzo arrives on March 31, followed by Bent on April 1; Ruston Kelly brings his The Weakness tour on April 17 along with Purr; The New Pornographers show on May 19 is sold out but there are tickets available for the May 20 show; The Walkmen have added a fourth show on May 23 because the other three shows are sold our;

Living legend Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band are back with a vengeance, playing one of four area shows on March 27. (They’re in Baltimore the night before.) If you missed out this time, don’t worry, Bruce is playing Nats Park in September as well as at Baltimore’s Camden Yards. April 1 brings the R&B Music Experience, including Xscape, Monica, Tamar Braxton, and 112. Blink-182 comes to town on May 23. And this summer watch for Sam Smith to continue his hot streak, bringing his “Gloria” tour to town on Aug.4.

Janet Jackson makes her highly anticipated return to the stage this spring, arriving in our area on May 6 along with guest Ludacris. The LGBTQ ally and icon has promised new music on her upcoming “Together Again Tour,” which follows the pandemic-related cancellation of her “Black Diamond Tour.” Jackson also plays Baltimore’s newly renovated CFG Bank Arena on May 13.

John Legend plays two nights at Wolf Trap on June 2 and 3; Charlie Puth follows on June 4. Wolf Trap also hosts the Indigo Girls on June 7 just in time for Pride month. Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with the Smithereens at the Birchmere on March 17. Fans of ‘80s alternative will be lined up for the Church also at the Birchmere at April 4, followed by Suzanne Vega on April 26. Amy Grant returns to the stage this spring and plays the Birchmere on May 2. Echostage plays host to a slew of buzz worthy shows this spring, including Ella Mai on April 8 and Fisher on May 12.

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