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DanceSmith Returns to the Kennedy Center for
Three Performances January 13 and 14, 2006

Six Contemporary Dance Works to Include Premieres of Two New Works
by Artistic Director Natalie Moffett Smith

Washington choreographer/performer Natalie Moffett Smith’s acclaimed contemporary ballet company, DanceSmith, returns to the Kennedy Center for three performances Friday, January 13 and Saturday, January 14, 2006. These performances follow the success of the company’s Kennedy Center debut in November 2004. The six dance works choreographed by Moffett Smith include the world premieres of two new works, as well as collaborations with area composer Charlie Barnett and Master Painter Helene O’Neil Cobb.

The program includes the world premiere of Moffett Smith’s new duet Arm’s Length. Characteristic of Moffett Smith’s distinctive choreographic style which combines classical ballet with modern influences, the work is performed en pointe to the music of modern composer John Adams. The two dancers co-exist in moments of dependency contrasted with moments where they are oblivious to each other. Theirs is a relationship of trust, yet restrained, reticent, at times resisted. There is a magnetic pull that brings them together; they know that they are each other’s safe haven, yet they show no emotion. The work begins and ends in silence, like the unspoken words between them. The second premiere, the company’s first solo, again combines the classical with the modern. In Blue Farewell, the classical music of Karl Goldmark and movement that is rooted in classical ballet is combined with Moffett Smith’s characteristic modern edge.

Also on the program is Mélange Separé (1999), a modern dance trio which combines moments of stillness with the constant movement of one or all of the dancers. At times the work suggests a moving, living sculpture. The mood of the movement, costumes and lighting is austere and abstract, depicting at times connectedness and at others, disconnect.

Returning to the Kennedy Center stage is Moffett Smith’s large group work Disquiet (2004). Intense inner emotions are evoked through the highly stylized, ballet-based, choreography in this captivating work. Performed in five movements, tension builds and releases as the dancers move in unison, relentless, while one lone dancer connects with and separates from the group. Stunning projections on the floor and scrim intensify the atmosphere of held tension. Angular, staccato movement is juxtaposed with the soft, understated evenness of Handel’s music.

DanceSmith promotes an exchange between dance and other artistic disciplines. Moffett Smith has included two such collaborations on the program for the upcoming Kennedy Center performances. Moffett Smith’s collaboration with composer Charlie Barnett, Interior Lining (2003), is presented at the Kennedy Center for the first time. Charlie Barnett’s recent credits include the musical score of the movie Paperclips. A full listing of his movie and other credits is available at http://www.charliebarnett.com/resume.html.

Interior Lining is a highly stylized ballet, substituting angularity and edge for the flow of classical ballet. The work depicts the struggle of the individual to preserve self in the face of the mechanical routine of modern life and its devotion to conformity. The movement, lighting, costume and set design all evoke the early 20th century. As one of the dancers leaps into the air and is caught by the other women, the audience may wonder: "Are they saving her, or are they preventing her escape?"

The sixth work on the program is Divertimento (2004). Set to the music of Mozart, the piece contrasts the classical aesthetic of ballet with three abstract, polygon paintings by Master Painter Helene O’Neil Cobb. The movement is closer to pure ballet than many of the works in the company’s repertoire. This group work breaks into duets, trios and solos, but always returns to the unison of the group. Unison and symmetry in the group adagio section contrast with the asymmetry of the irregularly shaped paintings. A graduate of the Corcoran School of Art, O’Neil Cobb created these abstract paintings as Moffett Smith created the choreography; the two compliment each other and complete the visual effect of the work.

At the Saturday matinee, Moffett Smith will introduce the performance, and there will be a post-performance discussion with the choreographer and members of the company.

DanceSmith’s Kennedy Center performances take place Friday evening January 13th, 2006 at 7:30 pm and matinee and evening performances Saturday January 14th, 2006 at 2:00 pm and 7:30 pm at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Terrace Theater. Admission is $45 and $35. Tickets are available from the Kennedy Center box office (202) 467-4600 and online at www.Kennedy-Center.org.

DanceSmith is a contemporary ballet company rooted in classical technique informed by modern dance. Founded by Natalie Moffett Smith in 2002, DanceSmith makes ballet accessible to a wide range of audiences. The company redefines the experience of watching ballet by the innovative use of classical ballet technique combined with a strong emotional component that is more contemporary. The company’s style contrasts the flowing movement and extended lines of ballet with the angularity and weight of modern dance. DanceSmith is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC.

Note to Editors: Photographs (electronic or camera- ready) available on request.

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Previous Press Releases

November 18, 2005
DanceSmith's Kennedy Center Debut November 18, 2004

Contemporary Dance Works to Include the Premier of a New Work by Artistic Director Natalie Moffett Smith


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