Open House Arts Festival
Meet the ArtistsPrograms, schedules, and artists subject to change without notice.
AAramis y su Orquesta Ashe
Ashe, signifying life force and energy in the Yoruba language and culture, is also a powerful concept in Cuban popular and folkloric culture. Timba, or modern Cuban Salsa at its most energetic and multifaceted, is an urban expression that fuses native African and Cuban rhythms, as well as Afro-American Funk, Jazz, Soul, and Go Go. Aramis Pazos Barrera, a native of the neighborhood el Cerro in Havana, Cuba, has formed his own group to continue to promote this tradition in the United States. He and his 12-piece band want to introduce Americans to another style of Salsa, different from Puerto Rican salsa and "Salsa Romantica."
BRick Barber and Glenn Donnellen
Part of the NSO's Kinderkonzerts, NSO violinist Glenn Donnellan and NSO bassist Rick Barber present Fiddlin' Around. From fiddling to blues to classical, the spotlight is on the string instruments - the smallest and the largest - in this lively program.Blue Sky 5
Whether you love to lindy hop, remember the days when "swing was king," or just appreciate good vintage jazz, you can dig all that jive with Blue Sky 5. The band's repertoire consists of songs made popular by Count Basie, Nat King Cole, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, and Fats Waller, along with tunes by other swing era artists. Blue Sky 5 also performs original songs written by Craig Gildner and arranged by the musicians that capture the era's style and sizzle. Its sole mission is to keep live swing music thriving for generations to come and have a ball doing it!Akim Funk Buddha
An avid world traveler and self-described old-school B-boy MC, Akim Funk Buddha draws from a full spectrum of cultural traditions and artistic disciplines. Rhyming, beat-boxing, mouth and body percussion, storytelling, break-dancing, Mongolian throat singing, Indonesian monkey chants, body-balancing, martial arts, tap, and circus arts are seamlessly blended. Urban Tea Ceremony is what Akim describes as a "true fiction" of his travels through Japan where he soon learned that the people he interacted with were just as curious about his life as he was about theirs. Urban Tea Ceremony is an exchange of perspective and philosophy between the worlds of traditional Japan and urban hip hop.
FThe Suzanne Farrell Ballet
Led by the renowned ballerina and George Balanchine protégée, the Kennedy Center's own ballet company has been praised for "renewing the Balanchine legacy with maximum luster" by the Los Angeles Times. At Open House today, members of The Suzanne Farrell Ballet will perform selections from Balanchine's Bugaku, Chaconne, and Pas Classique Espagnol.Flying Feet
Ellen Engle and Marc Shepanek, a.k.a. Flying Feet Enterprises, have been performing and teaching Swing, Ballroom, and Latin dance in the Washington, DC area since 1989. They are the official instructors for Swing, Ballroom, and Latin dance for the U.S. Naval Academy and have taught for the National Park Service at Glen Echo Park since 1997.Edwin Fontánez's Washington Chalk Festival
The Washington Chalk Festival was founded by local artist and children's book author Edwin Fontánez in 1993 as an offshoot of the International Chalk Festival. It has remained a popular highlight of Open House every year since 1995. More information on Edwin Fontánez and past Chalk Festivals can be found at exitstudio.com.
This year the festival is pleased to welcome the participation of VSA arts and featured artist Sidewalk Sam. Forty years ago, Robert Guillemin took his art out of museums and created the folk-artist Sidewalk Sam. As Sidewalk Sam, he has created thousands of artworks with colored chalk and paint on sidewalks in cities and towns across America. Guillemin, a wheelchair user after a fall in 1994, has formed a nonprofit organization called Art Street to promote inclusive ways for schools, neighborhood organizations, corporations, and government agencies to find creative solutions to social problems. You can find out more about the artist at the web site artstreet.org.
Other participants this year include returning artists Rick Aleman, Scott Buga, Seemeen Hashem, and Judit Ilie, along with special guests Jordan Dossett and Timothy Leary.
Trick-rope artist Burt Hairgrove is doing his part to keep the Wild West alive. This native Texan has been roping since the age of ten when he entered his first rodeo. While roping competitively through high school and college, Hairgrove refined the difficult skill of trick roping; the art of spinning an ordinary lariat into complicated routines. Hairgrove has turned his trick roping skills into an entertainment career, from rodeo performances to television commercials and from special events and promotions to an invitation to perform on the White House South Lawn for a Texas BBQ.Christopher Hudert
A nine-year veteran of Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus, Christopher Hudert has performed live for millions and appeared in TV shows, commercials, magazines and newspapers in the U.S. and Japan. He was Boss Clown for Ringling Bros. before leaving the show to join Master Puppeteer Terry Snyder in the creation of Applause Unlimited. In Travelin' Jack & Company, Hudert portrays an itinerant puppeteer with a hand puppet booth and a knack for tall tales, entertaining family audiences with "Foolish Jack," "Why Dogs Chase Cats," and "A Bundle of Troubles."
The Imagination Movers, who describe themselves as "what would happen if the Beastie Boys collaborated with Mr. Rogers," are Rich, Scott, Dave, and Smitty. The Movers began in New Orleans in 2003 and now are fast-rising stars on the national kids music scene thanks to their combination of radio-friendly songs, kid-friendly themes, and dynamic live shows. In concert, the Movers teach high-energy dances, play games with the audience and make music on their one-of-a-kind trashcan drumset. Kids and parents help perform new kids classics like "The Wah-Wah Song," "Clean My Room," "What's in the Fridge?" and "Looking Out the Window."
KJustin Kauflin Trio
Classically trained pianist Justin Kauflin, who participated in the Kennedy Center's jazz residency program Betty Carter's Jazz Ahead in April 2007, was born legally blind. He began studying music at age four, focusing primarily on the violin and piano. In high school he studied jazz at the Governor's School for the Performing Arts and Old Dominion University with John Toomey. Presented by VSA arts.Ben Kweller
ATO/RCA recording artist and multi-instrumentalist Ben Kweller brings his combination of alt-country and indie rock to the Concert Hall, as heard on Sha Sha and On My Way. Kweller garnered honorable mention in Billboard Magazine's young songwriters competition at the age of nine, was hitting the late-night talk show circuit and touring the world by 16 at the helm of Texas rock band Radish, then pursued a solo career when Radish disbanded in the late 90s. He has toured with everyone from Evan Dando to Juliana Hatfield to Jeff Tweedy to Death Cab for Cutie.
NNational Symphony Orchestra
The National Symphony Orchestra is the nation's orchestra, making its home at the Kennedy Center. Led by Music Director Leonard Slatkin, the NSO welcomes the world's greatest guest artists to performances in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall all throughout the year. Now in its 77th season, the NSO remains a unique ambassador of the American experience, performing favorites from the classical repertoire as well as the classics of tomorrow. Today, NSO Associate Conductor Emil de Cou leads the NSO, pianist Monica We, and members of The US Army Field Band Soldiers' Chorus - Sergeant First Class Laura Dause, soprano; Master Sergeant Joan Mercer, mezzo-soprano; Sergeant First Class Robert McIver, tenor; Staff Sergeant Mark Huseth, baritone; and Staff Sergeant Andre McRae, baritone - in works by Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Leroy Anderson, Richard Rodgers, John Williams, Franz Liszt, and more.National Symphony Orchestra Instrument "Petting Zoo"
A project of the Women's Committee for the National Symphony Orchestra, this fun, popular activity offers children hands-on experience with the instruments of the orchestra. Throughout the day, they can bang, blow, and bow their way to a great musical time!The Next Wave
The Next Wave, the United States Naval Academy Band's jazz ensemble, is one of the finest jazz bands in the Navy today. Under the direction of Senior Chief Musician Dan Drew, The Next Wave is 17 of the most highly skilled musicians in the country. They are not midshipmen, but professional musicians all, and avid jazz lovers keeping the big band sound alive in America. Their music includes time-tested arrangements by the likes of Goodman, Ellington, Basie, and Miller as well as the more contemporary names of Maynard Ferguson, Rob McConnell, and Bob Florence.Nicolo and the Queen of Whimsey
Nicolo and the Queen of Whimsey have been performing for more than 20 years, all over the U.S., Europe, and Asia, thrilling children and families with their special sense of the fun and the amazing. The stilt-walking, unicycle-riding, and accordion-playing juggling duo, Nick Newlin and Joanne Flynn, embraces the magic inherent in every performance and shares it gratefully with the audience.Nortec Collective
Nortec Collective is comprised of five artists: Fussible, Bostich, Pañptica, Clorofila, and Hiperboreal. These producers create and perform a style of music called Nortec - a fusion of Norteña (Mexican music "from the North") and techno. Since 1999, Nortec Collective has toured throughout the U.S., Mexico, Europe, Japan, and Latin America, transforming LA rock clubs, New York's Central Park SummerStage and Irving Plaza, the Winter Music Conference in Miami, and shows at the Royal Festival Hall in London and Elysee Montmartre in Paris.
PThe Perfect Unknowns
Montreal's The Perfect Unknowns (Les Parfaits Inconnus) is a zany medley of circus acts, comedy, and electrifying music. Armed with a bicycle, a ladder, a barrel, a board, and some balls, four eccentric characters try to outdo one another in a contest of increasingly outrageous antics. In 2004, four independent artists - a juggler, a stuntman, an acrobat, and a musician - decided to get together and create a new type of show, weaving circus arts, music, theater, and comedy into one big playful extravaganza.Portland Taiko
Established in 1994, Portland Taiko is a premier North American taiko ensemble. Taiko (the Japanese word for drum and the name of the art form) has its roots in ancient Japanese tradition. Today, taiko is a dynamic and evolving performing art combining rhythm, movement, energy, and culture into a single art form. Portland Taiko's aspiration is to createtaiko performance of the highest artistic quality to touch the universal in all of us and to provide a strong and beautiful voice for Asian America.
RRussian American Kids Circus
For more than 11 years, the Russian American Kids Circus has created a synthesis of circus arts, theater, dance, music, and comedy, giving birth to an entirely new genre of entertainment experience. Trained and produced by veterans of the world-famous Moscow Circus, these Brooklyn-based artists dazzle audiences with their synchronized acrobatics, unicycling, expert juggling, daring aerial feats, and balancing acts.
Sthe 7 fingers
Founded in Montreal in 2002, the 7 fingers (Les 7 Doigts de la Main) is made up of seven friends from such prestigious companies as Cirque du Soleil, Cirque Eloize, Pomp Duck and Circumstance, and more. Combining their years of experience and multiple talents, the members of the 7 fingers bring circus arts to a more human scale, creating an intimate and daringly contemporary experience by blending theater, dance, acrobatics, music, and multimedia in each performance. The San Francisco Gate says the 7 Fingers' "intimate clowning, aerial acts, juggling, and acrobatics may indeed be the perfect anecdote to the ever-growing glitz of Soleil."SteveSongs
Steve Roslonek of SteveSongs has been performing his unique brand of original songs for kids and their families for more than five years. Steve blends participatory songs, clever stories, and great melodies into an experience that leads young listeners on what the Boston Globe calls "not just a musical journey but an entertaining, interactive, and educational one."
UU.S. Navy Band's "Country Current"
Under the direction of guitarist and vocalist Master Chief Musician Wayne C. Taylor, The United States Navy Band's "Country Current," is the Navy's premier country music and bluegrass ensemble. The seven-member group was formed in 1973 and has performed with such artists as Charlie Daniels, Vince Gill, Bill Monroe, and Boots Randolph. They have appeared at the Grand Ole Opry, Wheeling Jamboree, International Bluegrass Music Association's "Awards Show" and "FanFest" in Louisville, and the Academy of Country Music Awards show.
WWashington National Opera Costume Trunk
Under General Director Plácido Domingo, the Washington National Opera presents high-quality productions, championing lesser-known works of significant musical worth rarely seen on today's opera stages. At Open House today, come play dress up and release your inner opera star.Jesse White Tumbling Team
Chicago's Jesse White Tumbling Team, with members ranging in age from six to eighteen years old, has been thrilling audiences since 1959. A number of members are residents of Chicago's Cabrini Green and Henry Horner housing developments, and the rest of the team is comprised from 10 communities within the Chicago metropolitan area. Founder and coach Jesse White created the team as a juvenile delinquency prevention program, providing a recreational, athletic, educational, and cultural enrichment experience for the team members. They have appeared on Late Night with David Letterman, The Tonight Show starring Jay Leno, Good Morning America, and The Mickey Mouse Club.The Wiyos
Playing old-timey American music - vaudevillian ragtime blues, early swing, jugband, and old time country - The Wiyos is a trio comprised of three vocals, washboard/ harmonica/kazoo, guitar, and upright bass. The Wiyos transports listeners back to the days when music could be heard on live radio and at community dances, juke joints, and house parties. Incorporating elements of physical comedy and theatricality, The Wiyos creates an interactive show in the tradition of vaudevillian performers like Fats Waller, Spike Jones, and Uncle Dave Macon. The band is passionate about infusing old-time American music with new blood, carrying this rich musical heritage into the 21st century.
ZZany Umbrella Circus
Pittsburgh's Zany Umbrella Circus transforms situations and props familiar to the audience into things of magic and wonder. A coat hanger becomes a trapeze; pots and pans become a percussive dance. Created by Ben Sota in 2004, Zany Umbrella is a "theatrical circus," building each act into a narrative where the clowns, jugglers, aerialists, and musicians both amaze and make you think.