The Kennedy Center

Direct Current

Modern masterpieces, cutting-edge composition, dance, drag, film, jazz, Hip Hop, video games, electronica, ecology, and activism all converge at the inaugural season of DIRECT CURRENT, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ new two-week celebration of contemporary culture. Focusing on works new to Washington, on interdisciplinary creations in which artistic worlds collide, and on innovative responses to topical concerns, this new spring immersion showcases some of the most potent, provocative, and original voices in American arts today. DIRECT CURRENT takes place on March 5–19 at the Kennedy Center and beyond, extending throughout the District of Columbia through new partnerships with four key alternative venues, to expand the growing audience for contemporary culture in the nation’s capital.

The energy of DIRECT CURRENT spreads through the city, featuring collaborations with arts organizations and venues, and the celebration of art and culture will take place around Washington D.C.

March 8
Jason Moran at The Phillips Collection (FREE)
March 9
Myra Melford at The Phillips Collection (FREE)
March 9
Madrigals Meet Minimalism: Pop-Up Party with The Washington Chorus at Dupont Underground
March 15
Mason Bates’s Mercury Soul at the 9:30 Club

Free daily performances on Millennium Stage showcase a broad range of provocative artists every evening as a part of DIRECT CURRENT, including several presentations by the Brooklyn-based artist incubator National Sawdust. All shows start at 6 p.m. and will be streamed live online.

March 5
Flor de Toloache
March 7
DCDIT presents Abdu Ali
March 8
Peabody New Music Ensemble
March 9
Sō Percussion
March 10
University of Maryland’s Gamer Symphony Orchestra
March 11
Orange Grove Dance
March 12
March 13
DCDIT presents Irreversible Entanglements/Keir Neuringer
March 14
Horse Lords
March 15
Uptown Arts Showcase
March 16
DCDIT presents Suzanne Ciani
March 17
Shabazz Palaces
March 18
Sophia Brous and Marc Ribot: When the World’s On Fire
March 19
Collaboration with National Sawdust: M is Black Enough

Ideas and themes behind many of the great performances of DIRECT CURRENT extended through discussions, workshops and education events designed to dig deeper.

In addition to a number of pre- and post-concert panels, make sure to check out DIY Junkestra, and instrument making workshop inspired Nathaniel Stookey’s work performed on instruments made of scavenged materials and objects from trash dumps in San Francisco and Washington D.C. Kennedy Center Teaching Artist John Bertles presents this hands-on workshop in which participants build their own musical instruments out of recycled materials.

Upcoming Events

Flor de Toloache

Mon, Mar 5, 2018, 6:00 PM

Latin Grammy®-winning all-female mariachi group mixes tradition and innovation, breaking boundaries of the traditionally male-dominated form with their edgy, versatile, and fresh take on traditional Latin American music.

Bowie State University Marching Band

Tue, Mar 6, 2018, 6:00 PM

The local HBCU “Symphony of Soul” performs selections from its 2018 spring season that celebrate a rich legacy in music.

Taylor Mac: A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (Abridged)

Tue, Mar 6, 2018, 7:00 PM

The D.C. premiere of this live vocal and theatrical presentation offers a radical, queer reading of American history with fabulous entertainer Taylor Mac and local performers.

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DCDIT presents Abdu Ali

Wed, Mar 7, 2018, 6:00 PM

Baltimore rapper Abdu Ali raps, sings, and chats over unothodox and future sounds.

DEMO by Damian Woetzel: Now

Wed, Mar 7, 2018, 7:30 PM

The former NYCB principal dancer curates and hosts an evening of recent commissions and D.C. premieres from some of today’s most creative voices in dance and music.

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Jason Moran at The Phillips Collection

Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 5:30 PM

Pianist and Kennedy Center Artistic Director for Jazz Jason Moran offers personal, improvisatory musical responses to Ten Americans After Klee, an exhibition at the Phillips Collection.

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Peabody New Music Ensemble

Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 6:00 PM

Baltimore’s Peabody Institute presents its new music group, Now Hear This (NHT). The program includes works by George Crumb, Steve Reich, and Kate Soper.

National Symphony Orchestra: John Adams's The Gospel According to the Other Mary

Mar 8 - Mar 10, 2018

In celebration of John Adams's 70th birthday year, Gianandrea Noseda conducts Adams's expansive composition for chorus, soloists, and orchestra depicting Jesus's final weeks as told from the unique perspective of Mary Magdalene.

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Myra Melford at The Phillips Collection

Fri, Mar 9, 2018, 5:30 PM

Pianist Myra Melford offers personal, improvisatory musical responses to Ten Americans After Klee, an exhibition at the Phillips Collection.

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So Percussion

Fri, Mar 9, 2018, 6:00 PM

Famed percussion quartet So Percussion plays works by John Cage, Caroline Shaw, and Vietnamese-American composer Viet Cuong.

DIY Junkestra: Instrument-Making Workshop

Fri, Mar 9, 2018, 7:00 PM

This Explore the Arts workshop gives participants an opportunity to build their own musical instruments from recycled materials.

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Philip Glass's 20 Etudes: A 5-Pianist Collaboration with Philip Glass, Jason Moran, Aaron Diehl, Devonté Hynes, and Jenny Lin

Fri, Mar 9, 2018, 8:00 PM

Contemporary classical piano meets jazz improvisation in this live musical performance featuring Glass in his eagerly awaited Kennedy Center debut, along with our Artistic Director of Jazz Jason Moran and three other pianists.

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Madrigals Meet Minimalism Pop-Up Party with The Washington Chorus at Dupont Underground

Fri, Mar 9, 2018, 10:00 PM

Join a pop-up party at Dupont Underground, Washington’s funky an innovative art space. The Washington Chorus will perform a vocal mash-up with DJ Justin Reed, exploring sonic textures of 16th century madrigals and 20th century minimalism.

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Gamer Symphony Orchestra at the University of Maryland

Sat, Mar 10, 2018, 6:00 PM

Gamer Symphony Orchestra presents From Bits to Brass: A Symphonic Adventure through Video Game Music, original orchestral arrangements of music from iconic games.

KC Jazz Club: Myra Melford with Snowy Egret

Sat, Mar 10

American avant-garde jazz pianist and composer Myra Melford returns to the Kennedy Center with her quintet.

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Orange Grove Dance

Sun, Mar 11, 2018, 6:00 PM

Orange Grove Dance presents the world premiere of Remnants, combining virtuosic athleticism with provocative multimedia design.

Mason Bates's KC Jukebox: California Mystics

Sun, Mar 11, 2018, 7:30 PM

This journey in ambience, rhythm, and texture explores music by composers from California's past and present, using Bedouin-inspired tenting and pillows to transform our Atrium into an immersive and inviting environment. Standing room only.

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Mon, Mar 12, 2018, 6:00 PM

In PunjabTronix, cutting-edge live electronica and digital projections meet traditional Punjabi folk music.

DCDIT presents Keir Neuringer and Irreversible Entanglements collective

Tue, Mar 13, 2018, 6:00 PM

Keir Neuringer and Irreversible Entanglements collective performs a night of politically driven free jazz. 

Julia Wolfe's Anthracite Fields

Tue, Mar 13, 2018, 7:30 PM

In this multimedia D.C. premiere, the Bang on a Can All-Stars, Choir of Trinity Wall Street, and conductor Julian Wachner reprise their Grammy®-nominated account of Wolfe's Pulitzer Prize–winning oratorio recalling Pennsylvania's coal-mining past.

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Horse Lords

Wed, Mar 14, 2018, 6:00 PM

With Horse Lords, drums, bass, saxophone, guitar, and percussion create deep, hypnotic grooves of bold new American rock ‘n’ roll.

Jamal Gray & Uptown Arts Showcase

Thu, Mar 15, 2018, 6:00 PM

Progressive, explorative responses to today’s society led by Hip Hop artist and veteran arts organizer Jamal Gray and local artists.

Mason Bates's Mercury Soul

Thu, Mar 15, 2018, 7:30 PM

New music will meet electronica, projected visuals, and immersive stagecraft in this visceral "classical rave" featuring new music by some of today’s most talked-about composers. NOTE: This event takes place at the 9:30 Club in D.C. Tickets on sale now on their website.

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DCDIT presents Suzanne Ciani

Fri, Mar 16, 2018, 6:00 PM

Synthesizer performance from pioneering electronic artist and five-time Grammy® nominee Suzanne Ciani.

Philip Glass's Koyaanisqatsi: Film & Music with the Philip Glass Ensemble

Fri, Mar 16, 2018, 8:00 PM

The legendary American composer's iconic multimedia collaboration with experimental filmmaker Godfrey Reggio receives its Kennedy Center premiere, with the Philip Glass Ensemble and The Washington Chorus performing the score live.

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Shabazz Palaces

Sat, Mar 17, 2018, 6:00 PM

Avant-garde Seattle-based Hip Hop duo featuring Digable Planets alumnus Ishmael Butler and Tendai “Baba” Maraire.


Sun, Mar 18, 2018, 6:00 PM

Australian performer and National Sawdust artist-in-resident Sophia Brous joins with New York icon and guitarist Marc Ribot to premiere a new collaboration with Shazhad Ismaily on percussion.

The Colorado: A Documentary Film & Live Music Experience

Sun, Mar 18, 2018, 7:30 PM

The D.C. premiere of this groundbreaking music-driven eco-documentary from filmmaker Murat Eyuboglu features the score performed live by Grammy®-winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth and others, with narration by Academy Award® winner Sir Mark Rylance.

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National Sawdust Project: M is Black Enough (D.C. Premiere)

Mon, Mar 19, 2018, 6:00 PM

In M is Black Enough, steel pan, cello, drums, and poetry/vocals create hard-driving rhythms and biting social commentary.