Meet the Artists
Programs, schedules, and artists subject to change without notice.
Part magician, part storyteller, part comedian, and all entertainer, Jim Alberti is a third-generation flea circus impresario. The flea circus has been an almost legendary part of fair, festival, and street entertainment for well over one hundred years. Watch Paddy O'Reilly Shaughnessy wave an Irish Flag, see Captain Spaulding fly out of a cannon, and cheer on the bikini-clad Dardenell as she attempts the traditional flea circus high dive. The Alberti Flea Circus is a "must see" that's just a little too small for the naked eye. And don't miss the 20-pipe Strolling Street Organ as Alberti makes his rounds throughout the day.
Anne is an artist who has illustrated twenty-eight books, including Jamaica's Find and six other Jamaica books by Juanita Havill. She has collaborated with Margy Burns Knight on Talking Walls and four other titles, for which they received the 1997 National Education Association Author-Illustrator Human & Civil Rights Award. She is also a celebrated writer, having written and illustrated The Legend of Hong Kil Dong: The Robin Hood of Korea, which won the Aesop Award and the Asian-Pacific American Award for Literature, and was named to Booklist's "Top Ten Graphic Novels for Youth 2007." Her newest books are After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance, a nonfiction book for ages ten and up which she co-wrote with her son, Perry O'Brien, a veteran and conscientious objector; and Jamaica is Thankful by Juanita Havill, the seventh in the Jamaica series. Her blog, "Coloring Between the Lines", reflects on race, culture and children's books.
Where does puppetry end and live acting begin? Somewhere during a performance by l'Arsenal à Musique. This world-famous company based in Montreal, Canada, specializes in bringing orchestral works to life through the characters and landscapes evoked by the music. On stage with the National Symphony Orchestra, they introduce a menagerie of exotic creatures during a performance of Camille Saint-Saëns's Carnival of the Animals. And in their original performance piece, The Ark, l'Arsenal tells the story of a planet—our planet—in peril. Through acrobats, musicians, and a host of breathtaking images, audiences are brought face to face with the state of the earth and given hope for the changes we can make to protect it.
Béron (Compagnie les Sardines)
Hailing from Montpellier, France, the witty and wonderfully clumsy Béron weaves together juggling, acrobatics, tightrope walking, and magic in a performance varied enough to fill an entire circus tent. Add to that his trademark ungainly style and you might find it amazing if he can pull any of it off at all. Yet he does, and it's brilliant.
Bio Ritmo is internationally recognized as one of the leading bands preserving the roots of Salsa Classica music, while simultaneously taking this sound to its next level. Compositions are original, largely inspired by '70s Latin music while incorporating many less common sonic influences such as electronica, Afrobeat, Brazilian and Middle Eastern grooves. Bio Ritmo's music has gained the highest respect of Latin-music connoisseurs and dancers, but the group has attracted a wide variety of fans from across the listening spectrum.
Bryan Collier is an illustrator and native of Pocomoke, Maryland, who employs a unique style of painting that incorporates both watercolors and collage in his work. In 1985, Collier won first place in a Congressional competition, and his art was displayed in the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. Later that year he was awarded a scholarship to Pratt Institute in New York City through their national talent competition. In 1989, Collier graduated with honors from Pratt Institute with a bachelor of fine arts degree. While attending school in New York, he began to volunteer at the Harlem Horizon Studio and Harlem Hospital Center with a program that provides working space and materials for self-taught artists in the community. Collier went on to become the Program Director, a position he held for 12 years. He still works with the program in Harlem as a volunteer, feeling a deep sense of responsibility to be a positive role model for kids. Today, Collier spends his time working on his book illustrations, creating his own studio pieces, and going into classrooms to talk with teachers, librarians, and students about books and art.
Byron Cage knows the gospel truth. Growing up in Detroit, Michigan, Cage was surrounded by the greats of Gospel music. The 2003 release of his self-titled GospoCentric debut spawned his hit "The Presence of the Lord" and won him a Soul Train Music Award for Best Gospel Album. An Invitation to Worship (2005) peaked at number two on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart and earned Cage his first Grammy® Award nomination. Now, in celebration of Gospel Music Heritage Month, Byron Cage, one of gospel music's most dynamic artists, performs his biggest hits and new music from his forthcoming CD Faithful to Believe.
La Cabane de Pepe
At first he and his traveling theater blend in with the bustling public on the busy sidewalk. Then the curious figure, Pepe, emerges unannounced from his hut to the surprise of those around him. In a style that can only be described as unpredictable, this tender, little character from the south of France improvises his act with the cooperation of his audience, becoming anything from a portrait-artist or poet to a photographer or musician.
Positive Vibrations Youth Steel Orchestra is the brainchild of the Cultural Academy of Excellence (CAFÉ), an organization that benefits youth ages 7-18 by providing innovative arts-in-education programs. Students are encouraged to assume leadership; to value the opportunity for service; and to accept, understand, and appreciate the diversity of their community and the world. Through the music of the steel band, kids learn these lessons along with the power of cooperation and the unmistakable reward of making music.
Chopteeth is a 14-piece Afrofunk orchestra exploring the common groove between the funkiest, most hip-shakin' West African riffs and cool American pop music. The core of the Chopteeth sound is Afrobeat— a spicy stew of modern jazz, Yoruba tribal music and burning, James Brown-inspired rhythms invented by Fela Kuti in 1970's Nigeria. Chopteeth's set features original compositions along with updates of African dance classics, all while remaining true to the spirit of the music and its message.
This acclaimed program has provided classical ballet training to more than 2,000 students over the past sixteen years. Graduates have gone on to continue their ballet studies, and many are dancers with some of the nation's premier companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet, the American Repertory Company, and the Rockettes. Come and encourage these young talents as they pursue their dreams.
Daniel Burley (Sunset Theater)
Daniel Burley of Munich, Germany, is not just an actor playing parts; he is an exciting entertainer, a humorist, and something of a magician. His hilarious performance has something for everyone. Fire, water, and expressive body language combine to form a one-of-a-kind act that demands the audience's attention.
For the past 16 years, Chris Farrall, aka DJ Lunch Money, has been providing D.C.-area music fans and dancers with all things funky, including '60s and '70s sweet soul and heavy funk, reggae, dub, disco, and hip-hop. He has everything from the obscure to the classics, and it's all at his fingertips in his vast pool of vinyl 45's and 12 inches. He has had long runs at local clubs such as Aroma and Saint-Ex over the years, and can currently be found spinning at Wonderland Ballroom, Black Cat, Dahlak, and Marvin. He'll keep things moving for all the kids constructing their ideal city during the We Built This City activity.
Now in its 13th year at the Kennedy Center, the Washington Chalk Festival was founded by 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. A local artist and children's author, Edwin Fontánez's books include On This Beautiful Island, The Vejigante and the Folk Festivals of Puerto Rico, and Hadas, Sirenas y Sapos, among others. He is also a frequent guest at the Kennedy Center's Multicultural Children's Book Festival. This year’s artists include Rick Aleman, Scott Buga, Pat Goslee, and Seemeen Hashem.
Most kids can jump rope, but the S.I.T.Y. Stars can jump one rope; they can jump two ropes; and they can jump from child's play to sport in an amazing display of coordination, creativity, and athleticism. The Greenbelt Youth Double Dutch League started as a movement to give children in the Greenbelt neighborhood a positive pastime, and the S.I.T.Y. Stars Jump Rope Team is the cream of that jumping crop. The team is currently coached by Kim Bradshaw, 2006 & 2007 Grand National Jump Rope Champion, and once you see them you will never look at jumping rope the same again.
Try to decipher the illusion as these two French characters take full advantage of television trickery to splice together movie images, pre-recorded video clips, and a live show. It's hard to tell where reality ends and the puppetry begins when you are face to face with these "TV personalities." This is an act that dares you to figure out what's happening behind the screens.
Hôtel des Hortensias (Théâtre des Monstres)
From Dijon, France, Théâtre des Monstres manages to convey a moving story without words, expressed only through movement, objects, and sounds. Bouncing between dreams and reality, this clownish play depicts daily life in a succession of quick and unexpected actions. Accompanied by live music and sound effects, this story makes you realize just how fascinating everyday life can be.
Lesole's Dance Project is a company of six dancers that creates and performs works that highlight the unique qualities of modern and Afro-Fusion styles of dance. The Project also provides educational information on the movements and histories of popular South African dances such as Gumboots, Indlamu, and Panstula.
Linda Sue Park is the author of A Single Shard, which was awarded the prestigious Newbery Medal by the American Library Association in 2002 for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. She has written both picture books and novels for young people, including the Jane Addams Peace Prize honor book, When My Name Was Keoko, and the Chicago Tribune Young Adult Literature award title, Project Mulberry. Her most recent books are Tap Dancing on the Roof, a collection of poetry, and Keeping Score, a baseball story set during the time of the Korean War. The daughter of immigrant parents, Park draws on her Korean ancestry for much of her work. A childhood love of the public library has led her to consider herself a reader first and a writer second. She lives with her family in western New York.
When French pianist, Macadam Piano, plays a movement he really gets moving. Flexible, magical, and unexplainable, his piano doesn't just entertain the crowd, it wanders through it. This is an act that quite literally brings the music to the people—and in the process a smile and a laugh.
Lesser magicians bow down before Magic Brian. His award-winning show has been performed around the world to fanfare and acclaim. This family friendly, high-energy, and interactive comedy magic show isn't your traditional rabbit-in-a-hat routine. It is full of surprises, culminating in a record breaking escape from 40 feet of chain and a regulation straitjacket. Come and discover what audiences worldwide already know: Brian is real magic.
Mambo Sauce is just as zesty as its namesake— the electric-red mystery concoction that is a staple take-out condiment for any true Washingtonian. The band brings to life a tapestry of unparallelled musicianship. Although their sound is often described as funky, their vast array of loyal fans claim that the band looks, feels and sounds exactly like pure music. Mambo Sauce delivers a fresh fusion of classic soul (think Marvin Gaye) and new school hip hop, all cross-bred with rock and the deep percussions of go-go. This is the indigenous sound of D.C.
He juggles, eats fire, spins plates, and can leap tall shrubbery in a single bound! It's Mark Lohr, Super Vaudevillian! An entertainer in the vein of Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and Bill Irwin, Mark has wowed audiences from the beaches of L.A. to the streets of Baltimore.Mark's Vaudevillian clowning around is laugh-out-loud entertaining with or without words, with or without props, and with or without being old enough to know what Vaudeville even is.
An award-winning author of multicultural books for children, Monica's books include Butterflies on Carmen Street, My Name is Gabito: The Life of Gabriel García Márquez and My Name is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz. She has just published a new bilingual book, Pelé, King of Soccer/Pelé, El Rey de Fútbol that tells the story of the Brazilian soccer legend who inspired thousands of children to dream big. Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez and Chavela and the Magic Bubble are forthcoming in 2010. Brown's books have received the Americas Award for Children's Literature, ALA Pura Belpré Honor Medals, and starred reviews in School Library Journal and Críticas. Brown is also a Professor of English at Northern Arizona University where she specializes in Multicultural Literature.
The National Children's Museum is scheduled to open in 2013 as a world-class cultural and educational center dedicated to engaging children and empowering them to make a difference. Through 2013, NCM is operating as a Museum Without Walls, participating in a variety of community. This spring, NCM opened the Launch Zone, a 2,700 square-foot space at National Harbor where kids and families can prototype and test exhibit and program concepts.
National Symphony Orchestra: Iván Fischer, Principal Conductor; Christoph Eschenbach, Music Director Designate
The Kennedy Center's resident orchestra, conducted by Emil de Cou, shows off their lighter side with Camille Saint-Saëns's delightful Carnival of the Animals. In this performance, always a hit with the kids, the audience gets to see animals come alive thanks to the stage magic of Montreal's l'Arsenal à Musique. Watch as lively choreography, life size puppets, giant colorful umbrellas and other visual effects vividly illustrate the music. Captivated by the action and humorous dialogue, children can readily associate the animals impersonated on the stage with the characteristic rhythms created by the composer.
National Symphony Orchestra Musical Instrument "Petting Zoo"
A project of the NSO Women's Committee
Here young music fans have a chance to get up close and hands-on with the instruments they'll see played professionally on the stage—from violins, flutes, and clarinets to trumpets and percussion!
Nomad: La Voile
One man mixes juggling, dance, mime, and contortionism—all while hanging high in the air from a sheet of cloth. See this artist perform his astounding feats as he dangles high above the North Plaza. He will defy gravity and pretty much every law of physics as he hangs without hands doing unimaginable tricks.
Washington's own Bog Band is a talented group of young people with a passion for Irish music. The band leader is Pete Moss (aka Mitch Fanning), a strings teacher at the Washington Waldorf School. His band grew from a group of his sixth grade students who in 2004 graduated fiddle club to band status. Today the boisterous band boasts 15 musicians ranging in age from ten through teen and beyond. They will whip up audiences on a variety of instruments including flute, guitar, bodhran, tin whistle, uilleann pipes, harp and cello.
For Petit Monsieur, the easiest actions can have disastrous and hilarious results. In "Out of Order" this little man in a too-tight business suit just needs to make a call, but when a telephone booth proves to be a little stubborn, a wrestling match/acrobatics act emerges. And in "Wait a Second," our friend is back in a struggle against the conveniences of modern technology.
Polyglot Puppet Theatre: We Built This City
Using nothing but thousands of big cardboard boxes and the energy and ingenuity of kids and families, a magnificent city rises from the ground in one day in a public construction extravaganza. With sound, movement, and architecture kids and families are invited to build their own city filled with any structure they can think of, as tall or as wide as they like. Wandering around the new city are construction experts to help or provide some advice. Builders will bop along to the musical sounds of the city provided by DJ Lunch Money, Positive Vibrations Steel Band, and Mambo Sauce.
Having recently opened for Coldplay at Madison Square Garden, composed music for several acclaimed feature films, and released his solo debut record, PT Walkley is a New York City musician on the rise. His blend of whimsy, theatrics, and wild instrumentation works perfectly for his music, which has as its guiding principle: storytelling. His album, Mr. Macy Wakes Alone, is an attempt to bring back the kind of LP listening where you start an album at the beginning and follow a narrative all the way to the end. He'll tell his story to everyone willing to listen on the Open House stage—and it's definitely one worth hearing.
A one-man creative force, Shane Evans comfortably wears titles that include artist, author, illustrator, musician, songwriter, and founder of Dream Studio, a community art space in Kansas City, Missouri, where he resides. He has more than 30 books to his credit as an illustrator, including Olu's Dream, which he also authored. Many of the books have been featured in the media such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Today Show, Reading Rainbow, and Late Night with David Letterman. Five of his books are scheduled for publication in 2010 including Chocolate Me with actor Taye Diggs, My Brother Charlie with actor Holly Robinson Peete, and Black Jack, with Coretta Scott King Award winning author Charles Smith. His portfolio includes the "Shanna Show" (now a Disney animated short along with the spinoff "Shane's Kindergarten Countdown"). In addition, he has exhibited, lectured, and developed art programs for youth in Burkina Faso, Botswana, Brazil, China, France, Japan, Lesotho, and across the United States.
The ABC 7/WJLA-TV Storm Chaser is the station's mobile weather unit. This special weather vehicle is outfitted with meteorological tools linked to an on-board computer and cell phone line which can feed data from anywhere the meteorologists travel back to the ABC 7 Weather Center.
The Striking Viking Story Pirates adapt and perform stories written by kids as a way of celebrating the words and ideas of young people, to promote literacy as a vital part of early childhood education, and to preserve the spark of youthful creativity often lost in the transition to adulthood. In short, they bring even more life and fun to kid's crazy imaginings—and that's a pretty wild proposition.
Author Tonya Bolden has a passion for making history come alive. Her books include The Champ: The Story of Muhammad Ali (illustrated by R. Gregory Christie) and a biography of a 19th-century New Yorker, Maritcha, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and James Madison Book Award winner. Bolden's MLK: Journey of a King received NCTE's 2008 Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children and her George Washington Carver was among the 2009 Orbis Pictus honorable mentions. A "balanced and lively account" is what School Library Journal says of Bolden's latest book, a biography of another phenom, UpClose: W.E.B. Du Bois.
The Tonys (La Compagnie Albédo)
Twin bodyguards, Tony and Tony, are on a mission to provide security for all living things on the planet. They look pretty unpleasant, ugly, and stupid but their intentions are entirely above suspicion. They are here for your safety, to protect you from others and from yourselves. They know how to do their job—if you haven’t seen the danger, they will invent it; if you want to travel incognito, they will escort you; if you were going that way, then they will take you somewhere else. An ironic take on our world of anxiety where everyone sees danger everywhere, they are your best protection.
Travelin' Jack and Company (Applause Unlimited)
An itinerant puppeteer with a hand puppet booth and a knack for tall tales entertains family audiences much as puppeteers did in America's Colonial days. Three American folk-tales are told with hand puppets by a single puppeteer who serves as both narrator and character in this frantic and fantastic show. Based on traditional Jack tales—slave song-stories and morality tales—these stories reflect the depth, scope, and humor of early American storytelling. As contemporary as it is classic, this show is a delight for audiences of all ages.
Ubaldo Sanchez Hernandez: Alfombra de Asserin
Vibrant art will take shape right before your eyes. Over the course of the day artist Ubaldo Sanchez Hernandez will use dyed sawdust, rice, dried beans, flowers, and other vegetable material to create a lush Guatemalan Alfombra (flower carpet). This spectacular yet ephemeral art form will display images that commemorate the Center, the Open House Arts Festival, and the performing arts. Ubaldo brings new meaning to "street art."
She's a one woman wheelie wacky suitcase circus. Try to keep up as this fast paced one-wheeled wonder woman transforms herself into a broad array of circus performers with the change of a hat or a tune. The Unicycle Lady™ moves from mime to magician to clown to animal tamer to acrobat to juggler and more. Whether balancing atop a 6 ft. unicycle while juggling or dancing with the grace of a ballerina on one wheel, this pedal-powered performer wows the crowd, calling on the audience to partake in the hilarity and breath-taking action.
Break dancing, flips, pops, and locks—Urban Artistry can do it all and keeps it fresh. They are a group of dancers, musicians, and historians who pursue their commitment to the hip hop by bringing urban heritage to the public eye. They are guided by the origins of the drum, the energy of the underground dance movement, and the art that documents their cultural experience. With a mission to both teach and perform, Urban Artistry brings irresistible beats and dance to eager audiences and offers to instruct anyone who is lured by this captivating dance style and rich heritage.
Charged with providing musical support to the President of the United States, the Department of the Navy, and other senior military and government officials, this Naval brass band knows no equal. Through ceremonies, national tours, public concerts, and recordings, the United States Navy Band inspires patriotism, elevates esprit de corps, preserves our nation's musical heritage, and projects a positive Navy image at home and abroad. It is also a thrill to hear and see.
The WNO Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program is designed for singers on the verge of international careers, as well as coach-accompanists, directors, and conductors. World-renowned singers, directors, and coaches work with the Young Artists to guide them in their transition from musician to artist and help them build long-lasting and healthy careers. For the Kennedy Center's Open House they will perform a montage of operatic works meant to showcase their talents and entertain.