Meet the Artists
Programs, schedules, and artists subject to change without notice.
Ballet Folklórico de la Universidad Veracruzana
Dancing and color are combined harmoniously in the productions of Ballet Folklórico de la Universidad Veracruzana. The group was founded in 1964 and has become highly acclaimed, being praised by the National Organization of Theater and Music Columnists as "the best folkloric ballet in Mexico for its authenticity and artistic quality." The company presents the traditional musical and dance of Mexico and Latin America amid mosaics of spectacular scenic designs, choreography and costumes, all of which are based on historic, anthropological and aesthetic studies. The group has performed in nearly all of Mexico's major cities and in more than 30 other countries in the Americas, Asia, and Europe. The company has a professional artistic group and dance laboratory where students receive training, joining the professional group when they reach a level of excellence. The performances are always accompanied by live music from the group Tlen Huicani, whose versatile musicians play everything from pre-Hispanic dances to mariachi music.
Batala in Washington, D.C. is part of a larger Batala family created in 1997 by Giba Gonçalves. Born and raised in Salvador, Bahia in Brazil, Gonçalves was living in Paris when he first had the idea for the band. Open to anyone with an interest in learning the samba-reggae beat, the band started off with 60 people.
From Paris it spread to other cities in France, Belgium, and the United Kingdom. In 2003, the band finally made its way back to its origins, brought to Brazil by Paulo Garcia. Composer and musical director Gonçalves enlisted the help of friends to create the visual identity of the band. The instruments and costumes are all manufactured in Salvador, Bahia, where the band has a social program that gives jobs to many families. From there they are shipped to the bands around the world. In 2007, the newest branch of the Batala band was created in Washington, D.C., expanding the reach of the band's music to the United States. Today, the band has over 300 percussionists around the world.
Beat Ya Feet Kings
Beat Ya Feet Kings is one of nine crews that are part of the fourth season of MTV's America's Best Dance Crew. Based in Washington, D.C., they pioneered a style called "Beatin Ya Feet"—a mix of footwork and energy. While it's currently popular only in the nation's capital, they have performed at Dance Africa NYC, as well as for Showtime and MTV's inauguration special. They're also proud of their deep connection with each other, as they and their families are very close. The crew includes Brandon "Locks" Faulker, Dante "Styles" Hancock, Jose "Foots" Hancock, Porche "Queen" Anthony, and Richard "Richboy" Ogunsiakan.
Candombe Forever performs candombe, a musical genre that has its roots in the African Bantu, and is found in Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil. Uruguayan candombe is the most practiced and spread internationally and has been recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Originated from the influences of African music, it was developed on both banks of the Rio de la Plata because of the large influx of slaves during the colonial period and well into the 19th century. During the 20th century, Uruguayan candombe gradually spread from the Afro-Uruguayans to become a feature of the national Uruguayan cultural identity.
Founded in 1991 by Diana V. Sáez, Coral Cantigas is the only chorus in the Washington, D.C. area with the mission of increasing awareness and appreciation of the many rich styles of Latino (Latin American, Spanish and Caribbean) choral music, and promoting diversity by uniting communities through the joyful and transformative power of music. Coral Cantigas provides artistic excellence in creative programming, educational workshops, and bilingual, cross-cultural and collaborative performances to national and international audiences. The chorus performs in Spanish, Portuguese, and a variety of American languages and dialects such as Nahuatl, Quechua, and Creole, with bilingual concert program notes and texts. They have appeared at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Mexican Cultural Institute, Strathmore Hall, Washington National Cathedral, and the Capital Children's Museum. In 1996, Coral Cantigas represented North America at the "IV Encuentro Coral José Antonio Calcaño," one of the premier international choral festivals, in Caracas, Venezuela. In 2001, the choir opened its 11th season with a tour of Puerto Rico and in 2006 toured Argentina.
Dance Theatre of Harlem Residency
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.
Enrique Arturo Diemecke
Maestro Diemecke brings an electrifying balance of passion, intellect and technique to his performances. Warmth, pulse, and spontaneity are all hallmarks of his conducting - conducting that has earned him an international reputation for performances that are riveting in their sweep and dynamism. Maestro Diemecke opens his fifth season as Music Director of the Buenos Aires Philharmonic leading the gala opening concert of the Teatro Colon. He enters his tenth season as Music Director of the Long Beach Symphony in California and his twenty-second season as Music Director of the Flint Symphony Orchestra. Born in Mexico, Enrique Diemecke comes from a German family of classical musicians. He began to play the violin at the age of six studying for many years with the legendary violinist Henryk Szeryng. At the age of nine he added french horn, piano, and percussion to his studies. Mr. Diemecke attended Catholic University in Washington, D.C. and continued his studies with Charles Bruck at the Pierre Monteux School for Advanced Conductors on a scholarship granted by Madame Pierre Monteux.
De Colores Mexican Folk Dance Company, founded in 1996 in the Washington, D.C. area to share Mexican heritage and culture through traditional song and dance, takes pride in pleasing and educating its audiences about the traditional dance forms, costumes, and customs of the various Mexican regions. The Company has performed extensively throughout the DC area and beyond, including performances at the Smithsonian Institution and Fiesta DC. Rocio Bermudez is the company's General Director, along with Artistic Director Alexander Macedo and Assistant Director Jose Luis Macedo.
Edwin Fontánez's Washington Chalk Festival
Now in its 14th 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. More information on Edwin Fontánez and past Chalk Festivals can be found at exitstudio.com.
El Gran Silencio
El Gran Silencio is a rock en español band from Monterrey, Mexico that blends a variety of rock, reggae, dancehall, and dub influences with traditional Latin American musical forms such as cumbia, vallenato, and banda. Current members include brothers Cano and Tony Hernandez, Isaac "Campa" Valdez, Julian "Moco" Villarreal, and Ezequiel Alvarado. Their first album Libres y Locos (1999), which means ‘free and crazy,' scored a hit with the song "Dormir Soñando." Their follow-up album, Chuntaros Radio Poder (2001), was even more successful than the first and was followed by Superiddim Internacional Vol. 1. Their latest album is called Comunicaflow Underground (2006).
Farafina Kan literally translates to "the sound of Africa." A professional performing arts company comprised of young African-American artists who have been reared in various other dance companies such as Memory of African Culture, Sankofa Dance Theatre, Kankouran West African Dance Company, Dono Drum and Dance Ensemble, Maimouna Keita West African Dance Company, and Wose Dance Theatre, Farafina Kan is dedicated to maintaining the history and integrity of traditional African drumming and dancing. Under the tutelage of international performing arts legends, the company seeks to sustain the work initiated by these legends through professionalism, artistry, continual learning and proactive intergenerational transmission of African culture through music and movement.
Grufolpawa is a non-profit organization with roots in the nation's capital since its inception in the late '70s. Grufolpawa is composed of a diverse group of men and women of all ages, mostly, but not exclusively, Panamanians. The group's mission is to disseminate Panamanian folklore through its music and interpretive dances. When not travelling, the group volunteers for a multitude of activities throughout various communities in the Washington metropolitan area.
A world-renowned singer with Mexican roots, León began her musical career in the '70s singing with groups of young students who sought a place for their rebellion in Latin American music and songs of protest. Since her beginnings, León has been committed to the people and their causes. In 1985, she won the Festival OTI in Seville, Spain with the song "Fandango." Her artistic journey has led her to explore many musical styles such as the tango, norteño, bolero, Latin American music, and the classics of the ranchera song. In her career of more than 30 years, Eugenia Leon has produced 24 albums, four of them made in one year. She has given memorable concerts at venues around the world including the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Mexico City, Center Concert Hall in Shanghai, the European Parliament in Brussels, the Teatro Colon in Bogota, the Teatro Oriente in Santiago de Chile, Lincoln Center in New York City, and the KC Jazz Club, in Washington, D.C. among many others. Her 2010 release, "Cinema," is a beautiful tribute to the music of Mexican cinema from different eras, with the participation of brilliant Mexican musicians.
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.
Luis Garay Percussion World Ensemble
Described in the Washington Post as a percussionist of "marvelous virtuosity," Luis Garay is a classical, jazz, and Afro-Latin multi-percussionist, composer, recording artist, and educator. He has been percussion soloist and director of Luis Garay Percussion World Ensemble since 1996. He has accompanied numerous top artists and has been a performer, instructor, adjudicator, clinician, director, founder, composer, and conductor of timpani and percussion for symphony orchestras, bands, jazz, and percussion ensembles. A well known percussionist in the nation's capitol, Mr. Garay's performances include the Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap, The Organization of American States, Department of State, Smithsonian Institution, The Argentine Embassy, DAR Constitution Hall, Washington National Cathedral, and Strathmore Music Center, among others. Luis Garay's CD Sacumba is a collection of his original Afro-Latin compositions performed by his group. Mr. Garay is currently recording his second CD which will be released in 2010.
Macari-Sotelo Ensemble: Avant-Folk
The project started in 2007 after exploring new ways to compose music for stringed instruments. The inspirations were 6- and 12-string guitars, as well as the Chapman Stick and Mexican jarana and vihuela. The group found its roots in different styles and musical traditions that were part of the musical background of each member, then they combined these characteristics with electronic devices. Macari-Sotelo Ensemble brings together strings, percussion, and accordion in a unique way, with authentic experimentation and creativity with sound. The group is composed of Eblen Macari (acoustic guitar and Mexican jarana), Mauricio Sotelo (Chapman Stick, 12-string guitar, and Mexican vihuela), Francisco Bringas (Indian tabla, Arabic derbeke), Olga Martínez (accordion), and Kabalán Macari-Yembe (Sound Engineer).
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.
Metro Youth Tap Ensemble
Under the Artistic Direction of Katie Padgett and managed by Nick King, the Metropolitan Youth Tap Ensemble (MYTE) is a youth tap dance ensemble comprised of a group of highly motivated and talented tap dancers from the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. MYTE was founded in 2007 by Nick King, Katie Miller, and David Covington. In only its second year, MYTE's credits include the National Cherry Blossom Festival, the CBS Early Show, The Ellington Theatre, The Jack Guidone Theater, LEGacy: A Tribute Concert to Jimmy Slyde and Lavaughn Robinson, National Tap Dance Day at Baltimore's Inner Harbor, Metro-politan Performing Arts Alliance's "Fall Into the Arts Banquet" and 2009 Benefit Concert, the annual MFAC Holiday Showcase, DC's FOX5 Morning News, and the first annual FROSTIVAL in Chantilly, VA.
National Children's Museum
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
The National Symphony Orchestra is the nation's orchestra, making its home at the Kennedy Center. Led by Music Director Christoph Eschenbach, the NSO welcomes the world's greatest guest artists to performances in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall all throughout the year. Now in its 78th season, the NSO remains a unique ambassador of the American experience, performing favorites from the classical repertoire as well as the classics of tomorrow.
Nominated "Best Latin Duo/Group 2009" by Washington Area Music Association and named in the D.C. Examiner as one of the best latin rock bands in the District, Nayas "deftly shifts from rootsy reggae to ska to introspective rock" (The Washington Post). Their mixed rhythms of cumbia, reggae, rock, and ska know no limits and never fail to bring down the house. Lyrics are in English, Spanish, Spanglish, and they have been known to throw in some Portuguese for good measure. The band members hail from Peru, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, and the US. Nayas has become a fixture in D.C., regularly playing at premier venues such as the 9:30 club, Black Cat, and The State Theatre. They have shared the stage with Calle 13, Molotov, Si-Se, El Gran Silencio, Kinky, Yerba Buena, Volumen Cero, Easy Star All-Star, Amigos Invisibles, and others. Their first self titled album was released in 2006 and they are currently recording their second in Right-On studio under the direction of Emmy winning sound engineer/musician Jerome Maffeo. The band is composed of Luis Torrealva (lead vocals/bass), Lilo Gonzales (lead guitar/vocals), Joey Carrasquillo (percussions/vocals), Joey Rossetti (drums/percussion), and Scott Schoem (keyboards/vocals).
Nicolo Whimsey Show
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 comedy juggling, plate spinning, musical-saw playing, character acting duo, Nick Newlin and Joanne Flynn, embraces the magic inherent in every performance and shares it gratefully with the audience.
NSO 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!
Pan American Symphony Orchestra
The Pan American Symphony Orchestra (PASO) was founded 17 years ago by dynamic Argentine conductor and musician Sergio Alessandro Buslje with the objective of bringing Latin American symphonic music to Washington, D.C. area concert halls. Maestro Buslje had studied and performed standard classical music for many years but noticed that Latin American culture was not being fully represented in area performances. PASO provides quality performances of music originating from Latin America with an on-going concert series that showcases gifted Latin American musicians and soloists, newly commissioned works, and rarely performed works by composers from Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador, Cuba, and Brazil, among others.
Instrumental duo Pastorale features Davis Duff on guitar and Raycurt Johnson on violin. They perform classical, jazz, gypsy swing, and bossa nova.
Rincón de la Marimba de Oaxaca
El Rincón de la Marimba (The Marimba Corner) is a musical project that incorporates students from all
around the State of Oaxaca, Mexico in regional groups in order to teach them the traditional sounds of the marimba. The Government of the State of Oaxaca along with the Ministry of Culture began this project in 2006 with support from the National Council for the Culture and Arts (CONACULTA) and the City Government of Santo Domingo Tehuantepec. The mission was to resuscitate the use of this instrument, whose arrival in the region dates back to the early 20th century. Though it left a profound mark on the cultural identity of Oaxaca, it has since been substituted for other instruments, and the result has been fewer trained marimba players who can keep this beautiful tradition alive. El Rincón de la Marimba has been successful in its outreach to young performers who are learning to play, tune, and perform this unique instrument. Today, there are 11 children's marimba groups consisting of 77 girls and boys across Oaxaca ranging in age from 10 to 15 years old, and they are continually expanding their repertoire. Members of the group have performed in Mexico, Washington, D.C., Bogota, Colombia and have been invited to perform at the Expo Shanghai 2010 in China.
Rocknoceros (pronounced like rhinoceros) has dominated the Washington, D.C. children's music scene since its inception in 2005, winning four Washington Area Music Awards, and landing an ongoing Video-on-Demand offering through COX Cable. As every family with youngsters in the DC area already knows, Rocknoceros is three guys: Coach Cotton, Williebob, and Boogie Woogie Bennie. Together, they cover a dizzying range of musical styles, from Tin Pan Alley to the shores of Jamaica, hopping from genre to genre like a toad on summer asphalt. They perform more than 20 shows each month, independently produce a bi-weekly video podcast series, and they have just completed their second animated music video for their third CD, PINK!.
Sherele is a klezmer quartet from Guadalajara, Mexico. Composed of musicians from France, Argentina, and Mexico, the group comes together in music thanks to this rich and exciting genre that has been embraced by many nationalities throughout history. Infusing klezmer with Latin American folklore (chacarera, tango, cumbia), jazz, and funk, Sherele takes audiences from the sounds of the shtetls to those of contemporary Latin American. Sherele's performances are filled with intense rhythm and driving melodies that seduce neophytes and surprise connoisseurs. Their first album, Oy Mame Shein –Pickles Chiles and Jrein, was selected as "CD of the Week" by Mexico's Presidential Press Bulletin. The song "Polka Dot Blues" by Sherele's Nathalie Braux is featured in Putumayo's Jazz Around the World (2009) compilation.
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.
As a child, Richard Smallwood began picking out melodies by ear on the family piano when he was only five, and by age seven he received formal instruction and performed as the regular pianist in his father's churches. As an 8th grader, he was taught by a fresh-out-of-college music teacher named Roberta Flack. Smallwood was accepted into a program for musically gifted children at Howard University which he later attended full-time, graduating with a degree in classical piano and voice. He was a founding member of the Howard Gospel Choir, and a featured member of the Celestial Singers, the first gospel act ever to perform at the internationally renowned Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland in 1973.
Forming the Smallwood Singers in 1977, he garnered a major-label recording contract in 1982, leading to an almost-unparalleled string of 15 consecutive Top-10 albums. His song, "I Love the Lord," crossed into the mass market when Whitney Houston sang it on the soundtrack to the hit film, The Preacher's Wife. His work has been recorded by an array of artists, including Destiny's Child, Yolanda Adams, Boyz II Men, and Karen Clark-Sheard. He is the recipient of numerous Stellar and Dove Awards and winner of a Grammy Award for his production on Handel's Soulful Messiah. On November 14, 2006, he was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame by the Gospel Music Association (GMA), placing him in the company of Elvis Presley, Mahalia Jackson, Andraé Crouch, and Thomas A. Dorsey. To celebrate his 25 years of recording, Smallwood invited long-time friends, collaborators, and artists to join him on his recent release Journey! Live in New York, including Chaka Khan, Kim Burrell, Kelly Price, The Hawkins Family, and the original Smallwood Singers.
Mexican pianist and composer Eugenio Toussaint began playing in 1972 with the band Odradek. In 1975, he took part in the jazz band Blue Note and a year later founded one of the most important Mexican jazz bands, Sacbé. After receiving a scholarship to the Dick Grove Music School in Los Angeles, CA and studying orchestration with Dr. Albert Harris, Toussaint worked with Paul Anka and Herb Albert from 1982 to 1983. He returned to Mexico City in 1986 to compose concert music. He was nominated for two Latin Grammy Awards for Best Classical CD for his albums Gauguin (2001) and Musica de Cámara (2004). Most recently he released the album Oinos with his jazz trio including world famous bass player Eddie Gomez and drummer Gabriel Puentes from Chile. He is currently traveling with Doc Severinsen´s band. He has also established an educational website called musycom.com that gives free music lessons over the internet.
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.
Washington National Opera
Washington National Opera is recognized as one of America's premier opera companies. Under the leadership of Plácido Domingo, WNO has moved confidently forward since the company's founding in 1956. Washington National Opera makes its home in the nation's capital and in the beautiful John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. With this inspirational backdrop, in each new season Washington National Opera strives to present the best that the art form has to offer. WNO has had innumerable artistic highlights, including world premieres, commissions of new works, new productions, and international tours. At the center of these triumphs have been performances by some of opera's most admired artists, including Plácido Domingo, Frederica von Stade, José Carreras, Mirella Freni, Renée Fleming, Samuel Ramey, Olga Borodina, Salvatore Licitra, Anna Netrebko, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Juan Diego Flórez and Denyce Graves, to name only a few.