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Washington Ballet "Genius"

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Washington, DC has turned into "dance city" lately, with ABT and Washington Ballet this week following close on the heels of the Kirov! I attended the Saturday matinee of Washington Ballet's "Genius," with choreography by Mark Morris ("Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes"), Christopher Wheeldon ("There Where She Loved"), and Twyla Tharp ("Nine Sinatra Songs"). All three of these dances are romantic (small "r") pieces that are organized into shorter units (etudes or songs), which gave the program unity in variety with connections on many levels.

WB has always been a versatile, spirited company that gives 100% of themselves to everything they perform. What they added to the mix this afternoon was a new level of confidence and sophistication, from Morris's deconstructed forms to Wheeldon's neoclassicism and Tharp's subversive choreography. Standouts included Elizabeth Gaither in "Drink to Me Only," Brianne Bland / Jonathan Jordan and Elizabeth Gaither / Runqiao Du in "There Where She Loved," and Gaither / Du and Bland / Jared Nelson in "Nine Sinatra Songs."

Also -- big welcome-backs and lotsa love to Erin Mahoney-Du ("Nine Sinatra Songs"), returning from maternity leave (congratulations, Erin and Runqiao!) and to special guest & former company member Michele Jimenez (alternating with Gaither / Du in "There Where She Loved" and with Bland / Nelson in "Sinatra Songs.")

I hope you all managed to see this fine program in between performances of Sleeping Beauty! According to Sarah Kaufman, the Washington Post dance critic, Paloma Herrera and David Hallberg were among the WB audience on Thursday, and Hallberg will also be guesting with the WB in April. By the way, Kaufman loved the show.

The remaining performances are Sunday, at 1p and 5:30p.

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